Many outdoor houseplants are annuals; they are planted in the spring and die off in the winter. Many types of plants can successfully survive the winter outdoors, but these plants must be grown in the ground where roots can find moderate soil temperatures. Many potted houseplants can thrive outdoors for some number of months of the year before coming inside for the winter. With indoor grow lights and an air humidifier, you can grow fruit trees and other tropical plants in pots. Whether or not you have a vegetable garden and in-ground landscaping plants, here is what you need to know about adding and caring for potted outdoor houseplants.
Especially if they like lots of sun, many houseplants will do fine outdoors so long as the overnight temperatures stay warm enough. The golden rule is that the sunniest spot in your home is roughly equivalent to the shadiest spot outdoors. We’ve generally found this to be true. For temperature, it really goes houseplant by houseplant with some wiggle room for relative humidity. Some plants may be fine with overnight lows in the 40s and 50s. More tropical plants need to be inside by the time the temperatures dip much below 60 degrees.
That said, some houseplants like a period of winter dormancy with lower light conditions and cooler temperatures. The fuchsia plant, for example, has bright flowers and the look of a tropical plant. It will enjoy its time outdoors during the summer but also has little trouble conserving energy and surviving the dim light of winter.
Versatile and resilient, the lucky bamboo is another strong candidate. It can survive and even grow in low-light conditions, while thriving with lots of bright, indirect light. Adapted to living in the shade of trees and taller plants, these plants can thrive during warm season months so long as they’re kept under a fully covered deck, porch, or patio. Their climbing stems and foliage also make it easy to inspect the plant for pests.
Designated Winter Areas for Outdoor Potted Plants
One of the risks with shuttling plants in and out of the house is introducing pests. It’s one thing if your experiment with outdoor container gardening doesn’t pan out, but you certainly don’t want to contaminate the rest of your beloved plants with outdoor pests. Look for a designated area to winter over your outdoor container gardening plants.
The potential for indoor grow lights is another advantage of having a designated area for bringing in outdoor plants during the winter. You may not be able to create a greenhouse-like environment exactly, but with indoor grow lights and a whole house humidifier, you can greatly expand the list of outdoor plants you can cultivate year-round. Don’t get overzealous with your indoor grow lights. The idea is to mimic the plant’s natural habitat which include long periods of darkness. We use indoor grow lights in bathrooms and basements without windows. That way, there’s no competition for space with indoor houseplants.
Looking for a houseplant that’s not like the others? Looking for a houseplant that is uniquely suited for this indoor/outdoor treatment? Consider a dwarf citrus tree.
Hanging Baskets and Outdoor Annuals
Very few plants can survive the winter in containers. In-ground plants can at least use the moderating temperatures of geothermal forces to protect their roots. Cruel as it may sound to some, some plants aren’t meant to survive.
Hanging baskets provide for a maximum amount of flexibility and exposure without too much cost or fuss at the end of the year when the plants are destined for the compost or yard waste bin. It’s not just hanging baskets, either. You can fill your yard with pots full of outdoor annuals. You can hang a miniature planter box from a porch or deck railing. They aren’t expensive, and they’re an easy way to add some extra beauty to your landscaping during the spring and summer. Popular annual houseplants include petunias, daisies, and black-eyed Susan vines. The coleus and fuchsia plants can be grown as an annual or perennial.
Whether wood, metal, or stone, full size planter boxes are kind of a middle ground between potted plants and an in-ground garden. You can also use specially designed containers for vegetable gardening. You can simply keep the reservoir full of water and many vegetables will thrive. Tomato plants are especially popular for this type of gardening.
How to Transition Houseplants Indoors and Outdoors
Looking for tips about how to transition houseplants during the spring and fall? Check out our dedicated posts for taking a houseplant outside for the summer and for bringing a houseplant inside during the winter.