Inside And Outside House Plants

House plants, like people, often enjoy a spell outdoors, in warmth, sunshine and fresh air. Come autumn, many popular summer patio plants can continue their display indoors, to give double value for money. What’s best for a plant depends on its origins, and on how hardy or tender it is. Not all house plants are suitable for outdoor life.


The benefits

  • Putting house plants out in summer takes only a few minutes, and can greatly improve their health.
  • Outdoor colour in the garden.
  • You can turn your patio into a summer garden with colourful flowers and foliage.
  • Ripe woody growth Exposure to sunlight helps flowering house plants, such as Oleander, to form next year’s flowers. With house plants such as Christmas Cherry, it encourages flowers and, hence, fruit.
  • Disease prevention Fungus, such as grey mould, thrives in stuffy conditions indoors, and house plants outdoors are less vulnerable.
  • Pest prevention Pests like white flies prefer life indoors; moving plants out in summer deprives pests of food.
  • Clean leaves Rain washes away household dust and grime.
  • Easy house cleaning. While plants are out, you can scrub down windowsills, and clean and sterilize plant saucers.

Popular indoor/outdoor plants


Zonal Pelargonium, or Bedding Geranium, is a typical indoor/outdoor plant. Coming from the hot, dry South African climate, it thrives in central heating, and can flower indoors for most of the year, if given direct sunlight. Outdoors, it brightens up the patio from late spring until the first frosts. Wax Begonia and Busy Lizzie are also indoor / outdoor plants, although their winter show indoors can be disappointing.

Indoor/outdoor foliage plants include Ivy, False Caster Oil Plant and x Fetshedere, a cross, or ‘bigeneric hybrid’between the two. These hardy ‘temperate climate’ foliage plants can stay outdoors all year round but, when grown as house plants, prefer cool winter conditions indoors. Flame Nettle, Coleus, is good for a colourful patio show in summer, and can be moved indoors in autumn, although it may get a big leggy in winter.

Moving house plants out for the summer

Harden plants off for a week or so in late spring, before placing them outdoors for the summer. Put them in a sunny, warm spot during the day and take them in at night, or when the weather turns cold.

Give them shelter and a spot where they can’t get knocked over or damaged. Be guided by their light needs indoors. Cacti and succulents, for example, like the sunniest spot inside, so enjoy full sunlight outdoors, while Ivy and Cymbidium prefer light shade. Water according to individual needs, remembering that many containers, especially those made from terracotta, will dry out more quickly outdoors than inside.

Autumn care

  • Remove any damaged or diseased leaves and shoots from plants, and any debris that has collected in the pot.
  • Take cuttings of any plants, such as Flame Nettle and Busy Lizzie, that are lanky, and discard Old plants.

Indoor/outdoor plants

Summer care

  • Take advantage of good growing especially out on a sunny patio.
  • Provide support for plants such as conditions outside, and pinch out tips ofJasmine, which grow quickly in summer, plants to promote bushy growth.

Winter, spring and summer ‘guests’

Some plants are equally happy indoors or out, all year round. Others enjoy summer on the patio, and the rest of the year inside, while a few just need winter shelter.

Tender Fuchsias are typical ‘winter guests’, not house plants. If you try to grow them in a warm, dry room, they die, but hard frost is fatal, so you must protect them indoors. Ideally, overwinter them in a cool greenhouse or unheated spare room. Bay and Marguerite are other similar examples.

Camellia is a ‘winter guest’ for another reason. Though hardy, its flowers are easily damaged by bad weather, so you can bring potted Camellias indoors to flower, once the buds are showing colour. Winter-flowering Daphnes are also hardy, but are brought indoors for their lovely fragrance. Again, sunny and cool are the keys to success!

Annuals such as French and African Marigolds, Petunias, Black-Eyed Susan and Ageratums are not, by any stretch of the imagination, long-term house plants, but you could display them indoors for a couple of weeks in a cool, sunny room. They will last longer than cut flowers, but not as long as they would outdoors. You can do the same with spring biennials, such as Canterbury Bells, Double Daisies and Forget-Me-Nots.

  • If you put annuals and biennials on a windowsill, remember to give them a quarter-turn every couple of days, to keep them from growing lopsidedly.
  • Give plants a breath of fresh air in spring and summer, and you should see a great improveinem in flowering and fruiting.
  • Short-term flowering plants add a welcome splash of colour to a group of foliage plants during spring and summer. Ring the changes every few weeks by replacing with new varieties.



  • Protect house plants from slugs and snails with slug pellets. These, however, are poisonous to children and animals and should be used with care.
  • Arrange for someone to water house plants outdoors if you go on holiday.
  • Group house plants with similar needs together, for a good ‘inicroclimate’ and display.


  • Move plants from very cold weather outside directly into central heating. Place them in a garage, shed or unheated bedroom for a few days first to let them gradually acclimatise to warmer conditions.
  • Hose down or mist spray house plants in bright sunlight; the drops of water magnify the sun’s rays and burn the leaves.

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