Can Outdoor Environments Affect Indoor Houseplants?

by Keith Markensen

When growing houseplants, you may be surprised to learn that the outside environment does affect indoor plants. If you are trying to maintain a healthy indoor garden, one of the main barriers to your plants’ health is pollution. In cities, and even in suburbs, dust, grime, and exhaust make it hard even for indoor plants to thrive.

Because plants ‘breathe” through their leaves, allowing their leaves to become covered with dust and dirt is not only unattractive, but also harmful to the plants. Therefore, you should pay special attention to cleaning the foliage of plants, sure that they are kept clean and free from dirt and dust.

If plants have shiny smooth leaves, the way to clean the leaves is to give them a sponge-bath with slightly warmed and a very small amount of soap. Then, rinse with clean water, sure that no soapy residue is left on the leaves. This will remove any dust or dirt, as well as any pests which may have found their way onto houseplants.

If your plants have hairy leaves, such as African Violets, keep them clean by occasionally brushing the leaves with a fine brush. However, be gentle, so that you do not harm the leaves with rough treatment.

During the summer, you can give your plants special care by returning them to nature for the season. If you have a garden, or even a porch or patio, your houseplants can spend two or three months outside each year. However, keep in mind that you should try to replicate their indoor conditions when you leave your plants in the garden, as they have acclimated to being indoors, just like an aralia plant. Try to replicate the amount of light your plants were receiving indoors, keeping plants in shady or sunny spots as needed. Aralias usually get wilted stems when exposed to too much light outdoors. A nursery can also help you determine which of your plants prefer sunny or shady environments.

While you could take the plants out of their pots and plant them directly in the garden, it is probably better to sink the pots into the soil, leaving the plant in the pot. This will keep your plants from the shock of transferring them to completely new and different soil. Also, the pot will keep the roots from spreading, which would make it difficult to re-pot them at the end of the summer. You may wish to drop some gravel into the hole first, to ensure adequate drainage.

While your plants are spending time in the garden, you should not forget about them. Even with rainfall, make sure that they are adequately watered. Make sure to examine them occasionally to make sure that they are not being attacked by pests. When you bring them back inside at the end of the summer, make sure no pests get a free ride into your house, they can attack your other houseplants.

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