Issue: March 5, 2005

When to move houseplants outdoors | Plants for midsummer bloom

When to move houseplants outdoors

Question:

When will it be safe to move houseplants outdoors for the summer?

Answer:

Don't move plants outdoors permanently until the chance of frost has passed. Plants that have been kept warm indoors will be susceptible to frost damage. However, there are some exceptions to the "wait till chance of frost" rule.

Plants can be moved outdoors into a protected microclimate earlier. Some areas, especially on a porch on the south side of a house will stay several degrees warmer than a location in the open. In this location frost damage will be much less likely, but slow acclimation to the light intensity may be necessary. Plants grown indoors often develop shade leaves that cannot tolerate direct sunlight. Plants should be in a shadier location on the protected porch at first. They should initially be given only brief periods of direct sunlight. As time passes, the duration of direct sunlight can increase if the plants are those plants that can tolerate full sunlight.

Another option is using the protected microclimate on an in-and-out basis. On warm days (and during nights above freezing) plants can be taken outside at any time of the year. Once again, care must be taken not to subject them to too much direct sunlight. Since they will be going back inside, they will not be acclimating to the sunlight. Place them in locations with light levels similar to or slightly brighter that the light levels at their indoor location.

Remember, plants outside may dry more quickly than indoor plants if the day is windy. Water as needed to keep them from drying more that the particular type of plant can tolerate.

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Plants for midsummer bloom

Question:

What are some good plants for midsummer blossoms? My garden is pretty in the spring, but the flowers vanish before the heat of summer.

Answer:

There are some good annual and perennial plants that will produce blooms during the heat of summer. Many of these are plants that are efficient water users and may be damaged if overwatered. I like the chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) for midsummer bloom because its chocolate perfume is a great addition to its yellow daisy-like blossoms. It is a perennial that will do well with very little water. Cherry sage (Salvia greggii), Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose), Caryopteris, and roses will bloom well in midsummer. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus and C. sulphureus) will provide bright color in midsummer as well. The Cosmos bipinnatus have pink, white, and red flowers with a very fine textured foliage. Cosmos sulphureus is smaller with bright yellow, orange, or red blossoms. Marigolds are also good producers of midsummer yellow blossoms.

These are only a few of the many very desirable midsummer flowering plants.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu or at https://www.facebook.com/DesertBloomsNM/. Please include your county Extension Agent (aces.nmsu.edu/county) and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at desertblooms.nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.