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If you’re like me, you had your houseplants outside back in May. I know they love the fresh air circulation, better light, and great humidity—it reminds them of “home.” I love seeing all the bright green new growth and it’s nice not to have to pick up yellow leaves from the living room floor where the ficus was complaining “Get me outside, NOW!” There are some things to keep in mind this summer, however.
The light is great and your plants are feeling fine and growing much faster now that days are long. Growing takes nutrients. Feed your plants with the appropriate houseplant food. Remember all fertilizers have three numbers (5-10-5, for example.) The first number is nitrogen which promotes foliage growth. The second number is phosphorus which promotes bloom development and root growth. The third number is potassium, necessary for overall vigor.
A very general rule of thumb: Plants grown for the beauty of their foliage (ficus, schefflera, palm, ferns, philodendron, etc.) are generally fed either “even numbers” (10-10-10, 20-20-20) or a fertilizer with slightly higher nitrogen. With the exception of orchids, which have different requirements, blooming plants need a fertilizer with a higher middle number (15-30-15, etc.).
Remember that even though our plants love summer breezes, they can (along with hot summer sun) dry them out faster so you’ll need to check for water more often. In extreme cases (like my Meyer lemon which is desperately in need of repotting) sitting in a saucer outside and letting them “soak” for a few minutes could be helpful.
Yeah, plants summering outside can occasionally get an insect pest so keep an eye out—occasionally checking the undersides of leaves and stems for problems. To prevent pests from getting in the soil, don’t sit plants directly on the ground. Prop the pot up on a couple of bricks or do what I do—take inexpensive clay saucers and turn them upside down (so they don’t hold water) and sit the plant on them. This can help with slugs and snails that like to climb into all that nice damp soil inside the pot.
If you do get a pest, a good organic pesticide to use is Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, Insecticidal soap, or Pyrethrins. Remember to spray just before dark to give bees and butterflies a chance to go home first.
Enjoy watching your houseplants thrive in the summer. If you have a problem of any kind, that’s what we’re here for!