Ever wonder how your green thumb friend has those impossibly huge houseplants? We’ll let you in on a little secret: they might be bringing their plants outside. Many plants — yes even houseplants — loooooove the sunshine, and letting them live outside can really allow them to thrive.
In the spring and summer months, think about putting your indoor plants outside if you have the space. Not only will they soak up tons more sunshine, but they’ll also get nutrients from rainwater and will probably grow much faster than they would indoors by a window.
But before you start hauling your beloved snake plant to the patio, there are a few things to keep in mind. A plant that lives outdoors has very different needs than an indoor plant, so you’ll have to adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Depending on your climate and how hot it gets, that’ll affect your plant care too.
We asked our friends at The Sill, a NYC-based plant purveyor, for their expert plant-care tips. They told us the very best ways to care for common houseplants, whether they’re living indoors or out.
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1. Monstera deliciosa
When indoors, the Monstera likes water about every 10 to 12 days. Water only when the potting mix is dry (pick a well-draining soil), and keep in bright-to-moderate direct light. Keep your Monstera away from cold drafts from open windows or dry heat like radiators.
When you take it outside in the summer, the Monstera likes water about every 5 days. More light means more frequent waterings – especially if in a dry environment. If you live in a climate where it rains frequently, the weather will do the watering for you. When outside, keep in bright-to-moderate indirect light. Too much direct light can burn your Monstera.
2. Bird of Paradise
The Bird of Paradise can only be planted outdoors in zones that have a minimum winter temp of 50 degrees (looking at you, Los Angeles).
In colder climates, these plants should live indoors in the fall and may be placed outdoors in the summer. Avoid subjecting the plant to temperatures lower than 50 degrees, as it will stunt those beautiful flowers! A Bird of Paradise should be placed in areas of full sun that receive 4-6 hours of sunlight, with morning sunlight being the most ideal. Check outdoor containers daily and water if the top inch of soil is dry. These plants thrive in moderate humidity, so make sure to mist the leaves in the winter months.
Agaves do great when grown in containers that have good soil drainage, so pick a planter that has drainage holes. They are very sensitive to cold weather, so make sure to bring the plant in when temps dip lower than 45 degrees. Agave thrives in full sunlight and can tolerate partial sun when kept outdoors in a container. These plants will have a hard time growing in a home with low light. They should be watered only when the top half of the container has dried out and the leaves have become flaccid.
Aloe veras are very versatile plants, so they do well both indoors and outdoors. When grown outdoors in full sun, they may change color to a warmer hue and will grow faster and larger. With indirect outdoor sun, they’ll require more water than their indoor counterparts.
Be careful, though — too much full sun outdoors (5+ hours) may burn the leaves. They should only be watered when the container has completely dried out. Do not overwater — they are very prone to root rot. Avoid getting water on the leaves if possible, too. During winter months, you should only water them once a month (or less).
4. Snake Plant
Snake plants grow great in indoor and outdoor containers. They can be kept outdoors if temperatures stay above 40 degrees in your climate’s coldest months. Any colder, and and you’re probably looking at a dead plant. They make excellent patio plants and thrive in partial sunlight. If kept outdoors, they should be watered once every 2 weeks. Just make sure the soil has completely dried out between waterings.
5. Fiddle Leaf Fig
Ideally, Fiddle Leaf Figs should be kept directly in front of a large, south-facing floor-to-ceiling window that receives 6 hours of mostly bright sunlight. They love pots with good drainage and should be watered when the top 2 inches of the pot dries out.
Although these Instagram-friendly plants can be challenging, Fiddles can be placed in outdoor containers under the right circumstances. For example, a Fiddle placed outdoors can thrive if kept in indirect light, watered weekly, and misted occasionally. They will need to be brought in when temperatures reach below 40 degrees. Bring your fiddle outside when it’s warm enough – but only if your home doesn’t receive that much indoor light.
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