Moving houseplants outside in late spring or early summer is good for them; they get better air circulation and light exposure. This also is a good time to repot your containerbound plants.
Wait to move plants outdoors until at least midto late-May, or when the weather is consistently warm. Since most houseplants have a tropical origin, temperatures below 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit might damage them.
Even if you know a particular plant prefers highlight conditions, don’t immediately put it or any houseplants in direct sunlight outdoors because they will need time to adjust to a higher light intensity. Instead, gradually increase the amount plants receive by first moving them under a covered patio or large shade tree for seven to 10 days. If you notice foliage bleaching or burning, reduce the amount of sunlight for another week or so before moving a plant to a more intense light location.
As your houseplants receive more light, most will require more water and will benefit from increased application of a general-purpose, houseplant fertilizer.
To test soil moisture, stick your finger into the first few inches of soil; if it feels dry, water the plant. When applying fertilizer, always follow the label instructions for the amount of fertilizer and water to use and application frequency.
It’s a good idea to check for pest problems on your houseplants outdoors so you can control the situation before it gets out of hand. Always read pesticide label directions to be sure the product is labeled for your houseplants. Insecticidal soap is an environmentally friendly, effective product that will take care of most houseplant pests.
If that hanging basket plant you got for Mother’s Day has the doldrums, a regular diet of plant food and water will rejuvenate it in no time.
Inadequate fertility is a common problem in hanging baskets because plants eventually use all fertilizer in the soil. Most hanging baskets need to be fertilized every one to two weeks during the peak growing season. Use a houseplant fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommended level.
Hanging baskets also need to be frequently watered. How often depends on how much shade and rainfall they receive. Some baskets need water every day or every other day, while others might need water only every three to four days. Check soil moisture to a depth of several inches with your finger.
Regardless of how often you water a hanging basket, be sure to do it thoroughly so you see water dripping from drainage holes.
You can rejuvenate hanging baskets by cutting back leggy plants. Pruning one-third to one-half the stem length will force new growth, causing plants to branch out more and flower again. Adequate fertility is critical in this situation because removing stems eliminates nutrients stored in plant tissues.
To learn more about home and garden topics, visit www2.ca.uky.edu/homegardenor contact the Letcher County Cooperative Extension Service.