As gardeners we have all been outside nurturing our vegetable and perennial gardens and our beautiful annual selections we have brought home from the greenhouses.

We love to be outside and enjoy the rains and bright warm sunshine that this season brings after being inside for so long this winter.

Our houseplants love to be outside with us and enjoy those rains and sunshine. Have you moved your house plants outside yet? Or have you ever thought about moving them outside?

They will reward you with lots of great growth over the summer months. There are a few do’s and don'ts to that process to help you succeed.

First of all, check the temperature outside. It has to be consistently above 40 degrees in the nighttime hours. 45 degrees is better, but most house plants will tolerate the 40 degree temperatures.

You want to gradually introduce your plants to the outside world. Do not put them directly out into the full sun or they will sunburn just like we do.

Our skin will repair itself after the sunburn heals, but plants do not. Once they have sunburn leaves they stay that way.

The first couple of days they are outside keep them in the shade, the third and fourth day you can put them in morning sun for a couple of hours then back in the shade. Then gradually increase the sun exposure.

One caution would be that most houseplants don’t like the full hot sun all day — at all. Cacti and succulents would be the exception, but only after they have been acclimated to the outside world.

Morning sun is best for those houseplants or light dappled shade. Your plants are developing stronger cell walls during the acclimation time that will help them to become stronger plants.

You will have to water them more often while they are outside, especially if the gale force winds we have been having continue. The winds have been drying things out really quickly. It is too early in the year to begin the watering chore. I always think of that starting in the dog days of summer.

It is a good time to repot those plants and put them in fresh soil before they start their new growth period. If they need cutting back or trimming, it is also a perfect time to do that.

Another thing to keep in mind when you are repotting plants is to have drainage holes in the pot. I have lost a few plants by not having a drainage hole in the pot when we have a 2- or 3-inch rainfall, so learn from my mistake. You will want to fertilize them two or three times a month while they are outside.

Plants like to be clustered together whether they are inside or outside, so try and keep them grouped together. They make more of an impact if they are grouped.

Check your plants weekly for plant pests. You will want to inspect them thoroughly before bringing them back inside in the fall.

I am always amazed at the growth over the summer when I bring my plants inside for the winter. There is nothing like being outside — the extra light, humidity and warm temperatures are the perfect scenario for your houseplants. 

Lorrie Rugg is master gardener coordinator for Steele and Rice counties.

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