Part Time Houseplants
Who Are They

Part time houseplants! These are the plants that make the great trek from

inside to outside in the spring and back again in the autumn. They really fall into two groups. There are tender outside plants that are stored indoors for the winter and there are indoor plants that go outside during the summer for a variety of reasons. They really aren’t that different, it’s just in the reasons for the move.


My Orchids bloom indoors during the winter but need the bright summer sun and the autumnal temperature and day length changes to initiate that flowering cycle. The Hibiscus standard, on the other hand, blooms and decorates the deck all summer and survives the winter indoors. The Papyrus from the pond also moves indoors to escape the killing winter freeze up. They all have their reaons for being Part Time Houseplants.

Ficus benjamina Full time houseplants! Now I’m a lazy gardener and all this moving in and out adds to the mental and physical stress during the busiest gardening times of the year. Houseplants that have no need to go outside during the summer stay put all year. This laziness has two benefits. It saves a lot of heavy moving and it actually keeps those plants happier. If we drag our Ficus benjamina tree outside in the spring it can suffer a significant sunburn on all those leaves that developed in the lower light of its indoor home. Once they all get crispy and fall off then a new set of leaves develops that are adapted to the higher light levels outside. We bring it indoors again in the autumn and the lower light levels cause all of the summer leaves to fall off and be slowly replaced by another set of low light leaves. Leave the poor thing where it is, in the corner of the dining room and both you and the Ficus will avoid a lot of unnecessary stress.

Preparing For The Trip! On the way out in the spring, Part Time Houseplants should be prepared for their strong summer growth period. Some like the Hibiscus need pruning. Others like the Orchids and the Amaryllis may need dividing and repotting. They all need to spend the summer in the appropriate part of the garden. Sunny or degrees of shade; hidden from view for those that are just growing on, or on display, for the summer flowering types.

The return trip back into the house in the autumn also requires some preparation. Insect control is important so that we do not create mid winter problems that make life difficult. Timing of the move indoors can also be critical. Amaryllis bulbs have a very low tolerance for any sort of frost. Others, while also being frost sensitive, need the cooling days of autumn to initiate their flowering cycle or dormant period.

As with almost any aspect of this wonderful gardening hobby; seasonal moving of Part Time Houseplants is much more successful with a bit of planning and preparation. Nonetheless we will all rush out one fall night and quickly drag everything into the house as the radio is warning us of an early frost.

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