How to Transition an Indoor Plant to Outdoors

Recently I shared over on Instagram a quick process of taking one of my potted indoor plants, and planting it in my mini tropical garden.

You guys were interested in learning some more about this process, so read on for some tips on how to transition an indoor plant to outdoors!

transitioning indoor plants to outdoors | Dossier Blog

There could be a few reasons why you’d transition an indoor plant to outdoors. It could be because

  • The plant has grown too big for your house (what a problem to have!)
  • You’d like to give it some temporary time outdoors to help with its health, or
  • You’d like to relocate it permanently, just because.

One of the things I always keep in mind with this process is that really all ‘indoor plants’ are actually ‘outdoor plants’. The ‘indoor plant’ label just means a plant is hardy enough or shade-loving enough to be able to grow in less than ideal conditions (aka our homes)! Keeping this in mind should help your confidence in knowing that your plant will be ok.

Tropical plants can be grown inside or outside | Dossier Blog

In fact, the majority of plants in my tropical garden (see pic above) actually are regular houseplants. They include:

  • Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica)
  • Philodendron Xanadu
  • Cordyline Rubra
  • Jade Peperomia
  • Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii (the one I just transplanted!)

Maybe you’d like to transition your plant outdoors in the same pot, or maybe you’d like to literally plant your indoor plant into the ground. Read on for tips on both scenarios!

Know Your Plant’s Natural Environment & Requirements

Researching either the plants requirements from the care tag (if you still have it) or doing a quick Google search to understand your plant’s natural growing environment will help with this process immensely.

A plant that wasn’t created for direct sun will not transition well to a sunny spot, even if done so slowly. So choose a spot that’s in line with the plant’s needs, whether that’s sun, shade, or protected. Also keep in mind if the location is on the damp or drier side, and what your plant prefers.

Check If your Plant is Invasive or Considered a Noxious Weed in your Area

This step is important! Depending on your location, certain plants may be illegal to plant in the ground because they can rapidly spread and threaten native flora. Yes, even plants that are popular house plants can be considered weeds in your area!

In my area, I know that Prickly Pear Cactus is a noxious weed. It is notorious for taking over and being very hard to get rid of! While you may have a Prickly Pear Cactus indoors in a pot, it could be potentially devastating to plant it outdoors in the ground in my area. (and may also incur a fine!)

Another thing to think about is the nature of the plant and if it has the tendency to be invasive. For plants that can be invasive, it doesn’t matter on your location – its just best not to plant them in the ground. For example, ficus/fig varieties (such as Rubber Plants, Fiddle Leaf Figs, etc) can have VERY invasive root systems. You’ll see that the Rubber Plant above in my tropical garden is actually positioned in a pot for this reason.

Planting these outside (especially near structures like houses, pools or underground plumbing) can be devastating! Make sure you check whether your plant has this tendency or not.

Transition your Plant to Direct Sun Slowly

If your plant is used to being in indirect light indoors and you’re wanting to put it in a sunny spot outside, be sure to transition the plant slowly. Even if the plant is naturally capable of being grown in full sun!

If a plant is not used to direct light, being put in sunlight all of a sudden can cause sunburn. Try to transition the plant slowly, by allowing it a couple of hours of light a day to start with, and slowly building it up from there.

Check the Area before Permanently Planting

If you’re wanting to plant an indoor plant into the ground outside, I like to test the location before permanently planting them. Do this by positioning plants in pots in your desired spot for 2 weeks or so before planting. This will help the plant get used to the position as well as make you aware of any reasons why the plant wouldn’t do well in the spot. That could be due to the amount of sun/shade it gets, other nearby plants, etc.

Enrich the Soil if Needed

Depending on the location, it might pay to enrich the soil with compost or a fresh soil mix. If your ground is particularly sandy or more clay-like, this will be handy for your plant and should help it adjust.

Planting an indoor plant outside - ctenanthe | Dossier Blog
Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii fishbone plant outdoors | Dossier Blog

Water in Well & use Seasol

If you’ve just planted your indoor plant outdoors, congratulations! It is an exciting process. Be sure to water the area as soon as it’s planted to ensure the roots don’t dry out and to help it settle in.

You can also use a soil conditioner straight away such as Seasol, to help ease the transition and strengthen the root system of the plant.

Would you ever try transitioning an indoor plant to outdoors? Let me know in the comments below!

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