Send Your Indoor Plants to Summer Camp

Our favorite transitional plants—and how to give them a few months of freedom in your outdoor living spaces.

Summer time in Colorado is spectacular for people, gardens, and pets. We all get together outside and spend days and evenings relaxing and enjoying the sun and blue skies. Indoor plants have been our faithful friends all winter long, providing us with clean air to breathe and greenery to carry us through the cold months. Yet we abandon them inside, when all these tropicals want is to join the party outside. Well, have no fear: Here comes summer camp for your plants!

Indoor plants, either tropicals or succulents, will greatly benefit from spending the warm season outside—and there are a few precautions needed to ensure success with summer camp.

Make sure all frost danger is long gone.

A good rule of thumb would be to start summer camp when the nightly temperatures are steadily in the high fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Your plants are heat-lovers and will be very sensitive to cold weather, so spare them the trauma.

Ease them into their final destination.

At the right time, bring (or drag) the plants outside, first choosing a shady spot. Even though the plants will thrive in a sunnier location later on, they must first be acclimated to their new environment. Pick a spot under a shade structure, on a covered front porch, or north- and east-facing. Even succulents cannot go directly from inside into the hot blazing sun without getting adjusted to the elements.

Over a couple of weeks, slowly move the plants to their final summer-camp destination. I would only place succulents in full sun. All other tropicals might have a harder time adjusting but will be perfectly content in the shade or partial shade. Think of it as the succulents going to a beach summer camp and the tropicals going to a dude ranch in the mountains.

Don’t forget water and food.

With the fresh air, your plants will get hungry, so don’t be surprised if you need to water them more. Make sure you do it early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sunrays are not so harsh. Your plants would also appreciate a little feeding; feel free to give them a few good doses of organic fertilizer over the next few months.

A few of our favorite indoor-outdoor plants

Sansevieria or Snake Plant
This is the perfect specimen to use outside in the shade. This is not a demanding plant and does not require a lot of water. Display it by itself for an elegant and structural look, or introduce a few blooming plants around it, like begonias or impatiens for a pop of color. If you have an ivy plant somewhere in the house, it could also be a good trailing companion for the Sansevieria.

Strelitzia reginae or Bird of Paradise
Don’t be fooled; this is not a banana plant. Its jungle size and glossy leaves make it a favorite for large spaces. Let the wind flow through the foliage, even if it results in split leaves, which would occur naturally in the wild! The bird of paradise will most likely not bloom inside, but you may be lucky enough to enjoy flowers by the end of summer. Let it shine in its own container for a dramatic and lush feel.

Nephrolepsis exaltata bostoniensis or Boston Fern
The perfect location for your fern will be shady to dappled shade. Create your own forest undergrowth with this beauty or hang it for a natural screen. No matter where, make sure you keep it well hydrated.

Ivy, ferns, and moss
Go ahead and experiment with combinations of like-minded plants, as you would with annuals. Instead of mixing shade-loving impatiens, begonias, and sprengeri ferns, switch to the alluring results of indoor plants’ unique textures, growing patterns, and shades of green.

Succulents and cacti
Always the favorites thanks to their architectural shapes and unique personalities, succulents and cacti make for a highly designed display, both inside and outside. Give them plenty of light and sun, little water, and great drainage, and they’ll be sure to impress you. We’re fans of the pencil cactus and its easy character.

When summer comes to an end…

When temperatures fall down to lower than high 50s at night, it is time to end summer camp and go back inside. The plants will be invigorated and ready to go through another winter with full reserves of energy and food.

Annie Huston is the co-owner of Birdsall & Co., a home and garden boutique in Denver, Colorado that is considered to be one of the finest in the nation. View their profile or reach Annie at

Content for this article provided by Birdsall & Co.

Categories: Landscaping & Gardening