You can bring a taste of Florida to your outdoor landscape, deck or patio, by moving your indoor plants outside in the spring. Plants like Palm trees will add an exotic touch and you will allow them a chance to breathe the fresh air after a long winter cooped up. However, sudden changes in sunlight, wind and temperature can be detrimental to your indoor potted plants, so acclimating them gradually to their new environment by 'toughening them up' is key.
First and foremost, plants don't appreciate shock of any kind. Taking a plant from its indoor cocoon to the outside can easily shock the plant. Many people believe their indoor house plants enjoy the sunshine like they do. However, the light intensity from direct sunlight outside can easily be one hundred times more than indoor lighting conditions. Plants need light to grow, but they don't adjust well from quickly going from one extreme to another.
For example, if you took a tropical plant like 'Dracaena' Corn Plant from the indoors and placed it in bright sunlight outdoors, you would find the leaves badly sundamaged within a few hours. Sunburn occurs in plants like it does in people. While we cannot apply sunscreen lotion to block the harmful UV rays, we can take steps to prevent the damage.
When taking a plant outdoors, don't place it in direct sunlight. Instead, place it in an area that is well shaded, like a porch or under a tree. Slowly give them more time outside each day, then bring back indoors for the evening. Once the plant is staying outside for the entire day, you will be able to leave them out all night. This hardening process can take about 2 weeks.
Wind is another factor to consider when taking plants outdoors. Indoors plants are rarely subject to any type of breeze, but outside can be very different. Too much wind causes plants to lose water through the leaves and dries out the soil. Additionally, wind can toss the plants around causing weak stems to break. Choose a first day outdoors that is not windy and move your plants to an area that is sheltered from strong winds. During times of exceptional wind or thunderstorms, bring the plants inside.
Keep in mind that most house plants are native to tropical or sub-tropical regions of the world. Temperatures inside are constant and generally do not drop below 60 degrees at the night. Outside temperatures can fluctuate and dip below freezing. Freezing temperatures will kill houseplants.
Acclimate your plants to get them used to the outdoor conditions. Take the plants outside for a few hours each day and then gradually increasing the time outside until the temperatures are stable enough for them to survive through the night. You can make life a little easier on yourself by purchasing rolling plant caddies to move your large heavy potted containers.
During the summer, plants are more actively growing, therefore using more water and nutrients. Plan on watering your plants outdoors more frequently than you would when they are indoors. Following these steps will help ensure the survival of your plants journey from indoors to the outdoors.
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