Give Houseplants a Summer Tune-up

Summer can be rough on houseplants. Warm temperatures, cool air from air conditions, dust, changing light and varying humidity can stress indoor plants. Luckily, summer is also a great time to give your houseplants a little vacation and take them outdoors for some extra tender loving care.

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Choose a place outdoors that stays lightly shaded all day; under a shade tree on the patio or on a covered porch is perfect. Spray the foliage gently with a hose to remove any dust. Insects love dusty leaves. It may take several passes with the hose to remove all the dust. If that doesn't do the job, wipe the leaves down with a moist towel or cloth. Rinsing the towel in lukewarm water with a drop or two of mild liquid dish soap should help. If you use soapy water, rinse the foliage with fresh water from the hose afterwards. For more information, see Cleaning Your Houseplants.

As you rinse the foliage, repeatedly water the root ball as well. This will help leach out any salts that have accumulated in the soil and could burn the leaves. After leaching the salts from the root ball, fertilize with a houseplant food according to label instructions.  Also look carefully for any pests and if necessary, treat with an insecticide, such as the Natria products featured above. Always read and follow label instructions.

After the plants dry, you can move them back indoors but many gardeners prefer to leave them outside for days, weeks or even all summer, especially if the plants have been struggling. Outdoor conditions will usually revive the plants and get them back to their beautiful selves. Just make sure you water and fertilize regularly. For tips on bringing your houseplants back inside after their vacation, see Bring Houseplants Indoors- Leave the Bugs Outdoors.

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