1. Know your zone. What’s your local climate like? Temperature, rainfall, and winter snowfall are all important factors in determining what plants will thrive outside. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which shows the average minimum winter temperature in a given region of the United States. That’s only part of the story, though. The American Horticultural Society’s Heat Zone Map shows a region’s average number of very hot days every year. Just as some plants can’t survive a very cold winter, others will wilt in a very hot summer.
2. Know the plant. Is it suited to your climate? Can it handle your summers, and if it’s a perennial, will it survive your winters? Most houseplants have tropical origins and won’t make it through a North American winter. Others are hardy enough to handle some winter chill. Is your area’s rainfall adequate or will you need to water it on a regular basis? Does it require a sunny area or does it prefer shade?
3. Decide if you will plant in the ground or a container. This depends on several factors. Is your soil the right kind for this plant? If not, planting it in a container, like a window box or large outdoor planter, will allow you to fine-tune the soil with potting mix. Containers are also recommended for house plants that aren’t very hardy. It’s easy to move them to a sunny place inside during the winter and put them back on your porch, patio, or deck when frost danger has passed. Or you can accept that they will die in winter and need to be replaced in spring.
Here’s some helpful information about transplanting popular house plants outdoors:Kalanchoe is native to Madagascar, so you can expect that it prefers a warm climate. Kalanchoe plants thrive in alkaline soil with good drainage. Outside, they like filtered sunlight or shifting shade. They do not do well in cold weather, unfortunately, and will probably not survive temperatures below 55 degrees. In the United States, we recommend planting kalanchoes in outdoor planters and bringing them indoors during the coldest months.
Cyclamen comes in many varieties, some of which are hardy in chilly winters. The variety most commonly sold as a houseplant, however, will not survive temperatures below 50 degrees. Your best bet for re-planting a cyclamen outside is to use a container you can bring inside during winter. Keep in mind that cyclamen goes dormant during summer and blooms in spring and fall.
Gardenia plants can thrive outdoors in U.S. hardiness zones 8-10. That’s the American south, like Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. You can also plant a gardenia outside in the warmer parts of the west, like California and even coastal Oregon. Gardenias like somewhat acidic soil, and mulch will help retain moisture and protect against temperature fluctuations. Partial shade will keep a gardenia plant healthy during the hottest months.
Croton is known for its colorful foliage. You can transplant a croton houseplant outside after the last frost of the year and enjoy it during spring, summer, and early fall, but it will die when temperatures drop. This makes it effectively an annual in all but frost-free zones. Keep in mind that a croton dislikes being moved and may drop some leaves when you transplant it, but the leaves will grow back quickly.
Money Trees can grow quite tall over the months and years and look great on patios and balconies. To grow your money tree outside, replant it in a larger planter with soil that drains well. Place it in dappled sunlight for the best results. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees, it’s time to bring the money tree back inside for the winter. If you keep increasing the planter size every season, your money tree can grow to staggering heights!
4. Now plant! When you’re ready to plant, prep the plant’s new location by making sure the soil is the right density and acidity. Gently remove the house plant from its indoor container, taking care to protect the roots. Examine the roots to see if the plant has become rootbound — that is, if the roots have gotten too large for the container it was in. Then transplant it in its new location, allowing enough room for the plant’s root system to expand comfortably.
Of course, once you’ve successfully transplanted your house plant outside, you’ll need a new house plant to take its place! Check out the Giving Plants selection and have one delivered to your front door.