It's time to send my "plant babies" off to summer camp. (Have I gone too far with the "plant parent" metaphor?)
My houseplant collection (read: my plant babies) has been slowly growing since moving into our sunshine-filled home. And though I really value them as interior decoration, I am learning how to give them what they want to keep them healthy and vibrant. Sometimes that means sacrificing my preferred feng shui so that the plants can live wild and free for a moment and grow to their hearts' content in the great outdoors
Take it easy: how to harden off your houseplants
Let's face it: Houseplants are pampered. They like to sit on the shelf inside in a controlled climate, be watered at the same time every week and be heavily dosed with "oohs", "ahhs", and coos by every dweller of the home. Outside in the garden there’s fluctuating temperatures, wind, pouring rain, hot sunshine and more. That’s alot for a houseplant to adjust to. That’s why it’s important to harden them off — which means to slowly introduce them to the wilderness of the garden.
The common way to harden off your plants is to set them outside for only a few hours a day for several days before letting them stay outdoors.
I tried something a little different. I have a small sunroom with many windows that receives a lot of sun. I threw open the windows, set my plants along the windowsill and left them there for two whole days. Then I moved them all outside to a shaded, protected spot near my foundation. They were only there for two days before moving to their locations in the garden. This method worked better for me than the usual way. I can easily forget to move them inside, so it was much simpler to only have to move them outdoors one time.
A quick tip for hardening off your houseplants
Water your houseplants really well before letting them be out in the garden. They can handle the transition better if they’re hydrated.
Styling houseplants in the garden
Half of the fun of houseplants is incorporating them into my home’s decor, so I wanted to use them in a similar way in my garden. Happenstance led me to this hack: Metal brackets were already installed into the brick under the windows of my sunroom. I assume there used to be a windowbox there. I’ll probably build another windowbox in the future, but my much quicker solution is to use a piece of old lumber (also something that came with the home) on top of the brackets and, simply enough, it’s a shelf for my houseplants. I almost love it more than a windowbox.
I potted up some annuals in individual pots to incorporate with the houseplants for a little variety of color. (Also, they might be able to be overwintered indoors when the season is over... we'll see.) Its a bit more of an eclectic look, but I find it adorable. What do you think?
Tips for designing with houseplants in the garden
If you’re moving your houseplants outdoors, remember these tips to help them thrive:
- Light conditions are different outside; a plant that likes bright light indoors usually prefers part shade outside. Plants that prefer low light conditions indoors definitely prefer shade outside.
- Make sure their pots have good drainage. Indoors, its nice to have a saucer or pot that can collect and keep water from running all over your home. But outdoors, that water can collect really quickly with a hard rain and make your plant soggy and cause the roots to rot.
- Most plants put on a lot of growth in the summer season, so encourage the growth with some fertilizer. Repot your plants to give them more room to grow.
This fern of mine needed to be repotted. The leaves were paling and it really wasn’t putting out new growth. I expected it to be rootbound, but it wasn’t. Regardless, a bigger pot and some fresh potting mix should help return its vigor. Repotting houseplants before setting them outside for the summer also helps boost their growth.
It seems like I’m always getting grand ideas for adding more and more houseplants to my home. You can see what I have growing currently (including the names of these plants pictured in this post) and stay updated as my collection grows by following me on Instagram @VintageUrbanGarden!