8 Houseplants You Can Move Outside Now That It’s Warm

updated Sep 13, 2022
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Summer is around the corner, bringing long daylight hours, climbing temperatures, and the occasional warm afternoon downpour. You’re probably looking forward to spending more time on your outdoor patio—and so are some of your plants! And while not every houseplant is happy to be outdoors, for the ones that are, outside time can help boost their growth and health.

The Houseplant Guru Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, author of “Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, & Caring for Indoor Plants,” “Grow In the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants,” and “Houseplant Party: Fun Projects and Growing Tips for Epic Indoor Plants” weighs in on which of your houseplants can thrive outdoors and how to transition them into this new environment.

Bringing Your Indoor Plants Outdoors

Steinkopf says the key, after determining which plants are suited for outside time, is to slowly acclimate your indoor plants to the outdoors by first moving them to a shady spot—either on the north side of your home or under a tree or other shady area—for a few weeks before moving them to a sunnier spot. “The light outside in the shade will still be exponentially more than in our homes,” says Steinkopf.

And just because it’s warm during the day, don’t forget to consider the nighttime temperatures when deciding when to move your plants outdoors. Most plants that thrive outside are tropical plants and won’t like temperatures under 50 degrees. Steinkopf adds that you’ll also want to make sure their new location offers them some kind of protection from strong winds and heavy rain.

Something else to take into consideration: sunburn. 

“I tell people as a very pale girl from Michigan, if you plopped me on the patio in May, I would burn to a crisp immediately,” jokes Steinkopf. Plants are no different! They need to slowly build up to more sun exposure. “If sunburn occurs, those leaves should be removed. The sunburn is not going to fade into a nice tan like it does for us,” she adds.

After properly acclimating your plants, stick to their regular care routine, but make sure that all pots have proper drainage holes and if you are using saucers, make sure the plants are not standing in water for any period of time. Now that you’re prepared to transition them, here are eight houseplants you can move outside once it gets warm.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Cacti and Succulents

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that succulents and cacti will thrive outdoors. These plants prefer bright light and to dry out in between waterings, but just because they are desert plants, don’t just move them into the brightest spot outside one day and assume they’ll fend for themselves.

“Many people believe because they are desert plants residing in the full sun, it means they can immediately be put in the sun. Not true,” warns Steinkopf. Instead, she suggests acclimating them as you would any other plant you are transitioning to the outdoors: a few weeks of shade in a covered area or under a tree before introducing it to a sunnier spot to avoid sunburn.

Credit: Marisa Vitale

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Plant parents (and pets!) love a ponytail palm, and the ponytail palm loves the outdoors. While it is famously low-maintenance and can live happily indoors, when grown outdoors, it might produce flower stalks and could reach heights of up to 20 feet (although most stall out around 3 feet). Ponytail palms prefer full sun but can also tolerate lower light atmospheres. The ponytail palm’s water routine is much like that of succulent plants—let the soil dry out between waterings. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

This flamboyant and finicky multi-colored shrub loves bright light and humidity but is particular about its water intake. Croton leaves will drop if it’s getting too much or too little water or if the temperature dips too low. It prefers moist—not soggy, not dry—soil.

Credit: Irina Borsuchenko/Shutterstock

Hoya

Hoya plants are beautiful hanging window plants, but they can also be happy on the other side of that window. They prefer bright, indirect light and moist—but not wet—soil. Hoya plants’ waxy leaves are able to hold a lot of moisture, giving them an advantage when it comes to outdoor heat.

Credit: Jeri Bland/Shutterstock

Amaryllis 

Your radiant <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="amaryllis%20that%20loves%20being%20<a%20href=" https:>on a windowsill might also love being outdoors. Known for being relatively easy to bloom, these plants function best in bright, indirect light with regular waterings.

Ficus

Even though some ficus trees get a reputation for being finicky—looking at you, fiddle leaf fig—these trees actually can thrive outdoors. But if your ficus is living its best life in a bright corner in your home, don’t move it just because you can—you might find that the disruption will do more harm than good. Steinkopf adds that it’s normal for a few leaves to drop when moving your plant, especially when moving it back inside in the fall. 

Credit: Samara Vise

Snake plant (Sansevieria)

It seems like snake plants can seriously survive anywhere, including the outdoors. While snake plants can tolerate low light, they can thrive in a variety of light conditions. They prefer to dry out in between waterings.

Steinkopf says that other plants that might enjoy outdoor shady areas but not full sun exposure include agalaonemas, calatheas, dracaenas, ferns, ivy, most orchids, philodendron, monstera, schefflera, and spathiphyllum. But, she adds, if they’re happy and thriving inside, it’s probably best to leave them be.