Moving houseplants outdoors and planting?

karate626(7A Maryland)April 3, 2011

I always move my houseplants outdoors as soon as temps remain in the upper 30's and above. I bring them in when the lows are 35ish. They grow so much faster than when kept inside. I normally keep them in pots in the shade and later move more sun tolerant plants out into the sun once it is adjusted. I was wondering if actually planting them in the Spring and potting them back up in the Fall would help increase growth and cause the plants to be healthier. I think for some vigorous plants this may be a good idea. Here is a list of most of my plants. Would this be a good idea for any of my plants)


2 Weeping figs (Ficus benjamina)

1 Ming aralia (Polyscias fruticosa)

1 Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) (supposedly root hardy here)

2 Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracena marginata)

2 Aloe vera

1 Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans)

1 Coastal Prickly Pear (Opuntia stricta) (Hardy in Atlanta Georgia)

3 Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

1 Christmas Cactus (S. bridgesii, S. x buckleyi)

1 Thanksgiving Cactus (S. truncata)

6 Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum sp.)

3 NOID Opuntia

1 Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)

1 Coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata) (Hardy in zone 8 might try overwintering here)

1 Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum

1 Elephant ear (Colocasia sp.)

1 Heart-Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)

1 Umbrella Tree(Schefflera actinophylla)

1 Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

1 Zigzag plant (Pedilanthus tithymaloides)

1 Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

2 Plumeria (P. alba)

1 Aloe (Aloe arborescens)

1 Violet Squill (Ledebouria socialis syn: Scilla violacea)

2 Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

1 Canna (Foliage Group) 'Auguste Ferrier

1 Croton (Codieaum species)

1 Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

I don't have any cultivation questions on these. I mainly want to know if I can plant any of these in the ground and if there is any benefit to the plants. Thanks to this forum I have learned so much. I lurk often and am always learning. That's what has kept these plants alive for the past few years!

Thank you for anyone's input.


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karate626(7A Maryland)

I forgot to put in that list 2 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 5:25PM
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Good question.

Here is a link/thread that may influence what you decide to do. Let us know what you decide, please.:-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Have you ever planted houseplants in the ground?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 6:42PM
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My personal thoughts on the issue would tend to lean toward keeping them in containers, but ensuring that root health were maintained through the use of a well aerated, free draining medium, a good nutritional program, and possible root pruning, if necessary... which would make for decent growth and good health of the plants, and a lot less work and guess work when it came time to dig and re-pot from the garden.

The only plants I, myself, would feel comfortable plunging directly into my garden beds would be a few of my more common hybrid amaryllid varieties. They'd be easily replaceable should something untoward happen, and I wouldn't feel guilty if I lost one or two.

Interesting discussion, though... I'd shy away from it, personally.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:32PM
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I am not real big on it personally, for a couple of reasons. First off, I pride myself in keeping my indoor garden pest free, and nothing says pests more then digging out dirt from outside, which would be on your plants obviously, and bringing it into the house. Also, as much as many of us want to see our plants grow like crazy, if you're like me, you'll find youself looking at a bunch of plants that have grown too big. Sure, you can prune away, but some don't work like that. For example, as I've talked about several times before, my madagascar palm, which I bought at 6" tall. I wished and wished for it to grow fast, and it did. It put on up to a foot per year, and after 8 years, I had a 7' spikey monster that was no longer practical to keep in my house. Since then, I've never brought home a plant that can't be pruned down, because it's hard to give away a plant you've had for 8 years. Anyway, what I'm saying is, sure, planting a houseplant outside will give the roots room to roam, and in turn make your plant grow immensely, but that may not really be what you want. But, on the otherhand, it's a way to get a plant to take off, if that's what you're looking for. For me, I'll pass, but I would actually like to see how it would work, just not with one of mine.

Also, I see you see 35 degrees for temps? Isn't that a bit low? I would think that'd do some damage. For me, here in the zone 4 area of Wisconsin, there is a possibility for a cold snap any day of the year. I mean, heck, it's already April, and I've seen the mercury in the teens at night. It doesn't stay reasonably decent, especially overnight, until July. Then it gets unbearably hot & humid.

But, I'd like to see some before and after pictures, if you can.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:48PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I would NOT plant them in the ground. The digging and transplanting would be stressful and damaging. And, by the way, rapid growth is not necessarily a good thing for the plant. Accelerated growth can often be at the sacrifice of other plant functions. 'Normal' growth rates are best, especially when you're going to drag them back inside for the winter.

I'd take the opportunity to lift them from their pots, root prune if necessary, and repot into fresh potting mix. That, alone, will convince them to put out a lot of new growth.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:34PM
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I keep the majority of my plants outside in containers during the warm months and some are in the greenhouse year round. The exceptions are brugs and some of my passifloras which I sink in ground in their pots. The brugs are cut back and dormant in the winter so cutting the roots isn't that traumatic. I seal the bottom drainage holes and cut new holes along the lower perimeter of the pot so that it's easy to sever the roots with a sharp spade when lifting them in the fall.

The only plants on your list that I would consider sinking in ground would be the plumeria and the canna.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 7:33AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I suppose I'm the only fellow that does this, so I'll offer some advice.
As Karyn said, the Canna would do very well in the ground- perhaps too well, even ;-)
The only other plant from the list that I'd put directly in the ground is the Aloe.
I put my Aloe nobilis in the ground for the Summer and the growth was phenomenal.

Generally, I plant things out such as Jades, Portulacarias, Euphorbias, and Aloes.
These are all succulents, you notice, and they handle root-pruning quite well for the most part.

At the end of the season, I dig them up and clean all the garden soil off the roots.
If you don't clean the plants, you'll potentially bring pests indoors.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 9:37AM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

I agree with Rhizo, I wouldn't plant them into the ground because of bugs. I wont even place my pots directly onto the ground because of slugs and other bugs getting into the pots and compromising the root systems.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 12:57PM
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There's not only the possibility of insects and pests to consider, there's also disease. Some type of blight or other form of disease that might not harm indigenous plant materials could possibly harm the plant types you're planning on placing in the ground. I don't know that this is the case, but I don't know that it's not, either. There are lots of soil borne viruses and other things that can remain dormant, and can attack when conditions are favorable.

Care should be taken in making such a decision, especially if you really like the plants you have.

By freshly re-potting into new medium, and ensuring a healthy nutritional plan, just the outdoor sun and other elements would be enough to show nice growth gain over the warmer months.

I don't know... I'd think carefully before attempting anything of the sort, myself. The Canna, however, would do well as a seasonal plant in the garden, and after the first frosts have caused the die back of leaves and such, you could dig the rhizomes and store for winter, as many gardeners do.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 6:55PM
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Josh, you're not the only member here who has planted house plants in the ground. :)

Karate. Planting in the ground has its pros and cons, unfortunately, more cons than pros.

Pros...plants will grow like weeds.
Con. Depending on the plant, it might grow too big. For example. One spring I planted two, 1' Musas/Banana Trees in the ground. By autumn, they stood over 15' tall, 7-9' wide. Because of their sizes, I had to leave them out to die.

I also planted a 7" Brugmansia. By autumn, it stood 3-4' tall. I dug up the Brug..many roots broke, but not enough to kill it. The following spring, I planted the Brug in ground again. It grew another 2-3', and bloomed profusely. From then on, it was kept in a large container.

I also planted a few palms and a hardy Citrus. The palms didn't put on much growth, but foliage was full, compact and very green.

Some of your plants would do okay in ground, but don't forget the cons..
Cons: Broken roots, bugs, disease. If you decide to plant in the garden, when you dig up, hose entire plant, including roots.

Some of your plants that could be planted in the garden:

Jerusalem Cherry
Elephant Ear

Most of your other plants would do fine outdoors, in pots. Be very careful with the Pothos and Philo. Leaves could burn.

Keep us posted..Toni

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 3:16PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I agree with Toni's suggestions and add the ones I do plant in the ground.

- Wandering Jew (I do not dig it up but take cuttings)

- Spider Plant (I have so many but the variegated does not grow fast but if I plant it I get tons of babies that I put in a pot when I bring it inside) When I have a sick friend want to take a cute pot with a plant to the hospital or Senior home I have lots of babies to use.

I hunt for cute pots or unusual items that could be used as pots. I put a spider and a piece of W/Jew and presto you have a pretty little gift.

. Question? Have you ever had a bloom on your Opuntias growing them indoors?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 4:47PM
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Marquest...great idea growing Spiders and WJ's. Do Spider offsets root in soil? 'in your garden.' Also, are they shaded, placed in a dim spot, or bright light?

Mother of Thousands/Millions is a great plant to start from cuttings, in a garden. They grows tall, huge leaves, then if dug up, by mid-winter, you'll have flowers galore.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 5:17PM
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karate626(7A Maryland)

I don't have the time right now to form a post responding to everyone but I will later this weekend.
Just to quickly answer hopefulauthors's question on WJs rooting: Mine seem to grow little root nubs (not a technical term) quite similar to the ones that form on pothos plants.My guess is they would root just as a pothos would in moist soil.
BTW great idea on the plant gift Marquest! I'm going to copy you :)
Thank you for everyone's input! I will definitely keep y'all posted!


    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 6:12PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Yes Toni I just cut off the babies and put them in the shade garden with my hostas. They grow like weeds and send out a lot of baby spiders. At the end of summer I cut the babies off and wash them and put them in a pot by themselves. It is easy to take one out when I want to make a little planter.

I found some really cute cups at the thrift store that I used as a planter to take to the senior center. The seniors loved them. One said it looked like a cup she had in her china closet years ago. She felt she had one of her dishes back. The seniors are so sad that they do not have their things anymore.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 6:15PM
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