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Garden Guide: How to acclimate your plants back outdoors

You successfully overwintered your plants inside, but now you face an even bigger hurdle - getting them back outside!

Alex Calamia

Apr 3, 2024, 9:59 AM

Updated 105 days ago


April warms up faster than any other month of the year, and we are starting to see mild days in the forecast. It’s still too early to keep tropical plants outside all year long, but you can start to bring your plants outside on mild days to acclimate them back to outdoors. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Alex Calamia answers a few of your questions in the video below:

Start indoor plants in full shade

After spending winter inside, even sun loving plants will burn if given direct sunlight outdoors. The sun is as strong now as it is in early September! It takes about a month of gradually introducing them to more sunshine. That’s why I bring my plants outside on mild days, even if they occur before the last freeze. It gives them a little jumpstart on that acclimation process.

Syncing with the seasons

Freezing temperatures are a death sentence for tropical plants (freezes will even damage our hardy landscape plants when they’re actively growing), but some plants can handle more “chill” than you might expect.
I leave my citrus outside anytime temperatures are above freezing, even in the winter. Plants unfortunately don’t have a calendar, so when you bring plants like citrus into a warmer house, it could force them to produce spring blooms in the middle of winter.
That’s a problem because citrus love light and won’t fruit properly if they bloom indoors. By leaving plants like citrus outside in chilly weather, I’m “syncing them with the seasons” and getting them to bloom in-line with our springtime.

Know what plant you have

Some plants can handle the chill and others cannot. Citrus aren’t true tropical plants. They can handle cooler temperatures and dry days. Geraniums and petunias are sold as annuals, but can actually bloom beautifully during chilly days. That makes it possible to keep these outside at this time of the year - as long as they go inside if there’s a hard freeze.
Tropical plants like philodendrons and hibiscus don’t like chilly weather, so it’s best to leave those inside the house until nighttime temperatures are frequently staying near and above 50 degrees.
Do you have a plant question? Send it to us!

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