If you're living in the greater Columbus area, or the Midwest generally, you're feeling the warm temps this past week. We've been enjoying day temps in the 70s and nighttime temps in the 50s to high 40s. ...and you're probably itching to get some of your houseplants outside to enjoy some fresh air (and free up some space in your house!) Is it safe to do that yet?
Short answer: yes.... and no...
If you're experiencing temps in the 70s during the day and you have the time, you can set out your plants in a place sheltered from the sun (covered porches are great). BUT you'll want to bring them in at night as we're not frost-free in Ohio until after Mother's Day, and most tropical houseplants can be harmed even in 40 degree temps.
Plants that are hardier (snakes, jades, aloes) are a good starting point for some early fresh air, and will probably be okay if you forget them one night.
If you have "bright light" plants like birds of paradise, alocasias, or hibicus, you'll want to ease them into the sun on your patio or deck. Put them out for a couple of hours at a time, over the course of a week or two. Going from indoor bright light to direct summer sun too quickly will scorch their leaves.
What else should you consider for summer prep? Now is a great time to inventory your collection and do the following:
- Repotting: if you see roots coming up through the top of the soil, it's time to repot. Look for a pot 1" bigger in diameter than the current pot; houseplants don't mind being a little cozy. Make sure you use a good, well draining potting soil. (See our post on repotting for more details.)
- Fertilizing: spring is the start of growing season for tropical plants, so it helps to give them a fertilizer boost to keep them healthy. (We like Jack's Classic 20-20-20, a balanced formula of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Potassium, or Dyna Gro Liquid Gro Plant Food (it has a lower percentage of each nutrient, so it's harder to over-fertilize.)
- Prune and Clean: Clean up any dead/dying leaves from the plant, or on the soil surface. Give them an outdoor bath to rinse off any dust that may have accumulated over the winter--clean leaves work the best at photosynthesizing nutrients. Now is also a good time to do a little thinning of overly-long vines, broken stems, or damage. Pruning will refocus and encourage the plant to generate new, healthy growth.
Alright! We made it through a long, hard winter. Let's get ready for a warm, sunny, beautiful summer. Happy Growing!