When Can I Move My Houseplants Outside?

Updated: Jul. 28, 2023

Knowing when it's safe to move houseplants outside in the spring ensures they'll enjoy a good summer outdoors.

When the days get warmer, I’m ready to move some of my houseplants and the tender plants I brought inside for the winter back outside. I’m following the example set by my dad. He turned a shaded area in our backyard into a neighborhood gathering place by installing a small pond as a backdrop for several large houseplants he moved outside for the summer.

Spending the summertime outside can be good for some houseplants. And it opens up the rooms where the plants were inside, at least for a few months.

But you shouldn’t just toss your houseplants outside and hope for the best. Take some time and do it slowly to ensure they survive the move and enjoy a good summer outdoors before it’s time to move them back inside for the winter.

Here are some tips for successfully transitioning houseplants for a summer outdoors.

Check Nighttime Temperatures

Most houseplants are tropical, so wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. The same is true for those tender annuals you brought inside for the winter.

As noted by Marianne Willburn in her book Tropical Plants and How To Love Them, “If you’re still putting on a padded jacket to walk out to the garden, it’s way too cold for your tropical plants.”

Put Houseplants in Shade First

While some indoor plants may have been getting light from a south-facing window, it’s still brighter outside. Put your plants in a protected, shaded area first to give them a chance to acclimate before moving them to their summertime homes.

Check them periodically. If they look wilted or scorched, take them back inside for a while. As Willburn writes, “I prefer to wait until temperatures are warm enough, and then transition them outside to shady outdoor spaces, gradually giving them more light.”

Keep Plants Well-Watered and Fed

Plants outside will dry out faster than inside, so check more often to see if they need water. Houseplants also grow faster outside, so regularly apply a houseplant fertilizer, following the directions on the label.

Use the Outdoor Time To Repot Your Houseplants

Houseplants generally grow much more during spring and summer, so spring is a good time to repot any that have outgrown their containers. Some can be divided at this time as well.

Watch for Pests

Once your houseplants are outside, check for new pests they may attract. Some common pests include:

  • Chipmunks: They may be cute, but they love to dig in pots. Placing large flat rocks on exposed soil is one way to keep them at bay.
  • Mealybugs: These look like a cottony mass on plant stems. Wipe them off with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Slugs: If the edges of leaves look like something’s eating them, it might be slugs. There are several non-toxic ways to get rid of them. One of the easiest: Put a layer of diatomaceous earth around the plants.

Can I Keep Houseplants Inside for the Summer?

Yes.

Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, author of Bloom: The Secrets of Growing Flowering Houseplants Year-Round, prefers to keep most of her houseplants inside, even in the summer, including African violets and Phalaenopsis orchids. She says she’s seen too many orchids and other houseplants damaged by slugs outside.

Should I Plant Houseplants in the Ground?

No. Keep them in their containers.

If you’re afraid a special container may break if exposed to the elements outside, temporarily repot the plant in a container better suited for the outdoors, and then put it back into its special container before bringing it inside for the winter.