Have you started planning your flower beds and patio pots for the summer yet? You may be surprised to hear, but lots of your favorite houseplants can do double duty. After keeping your house green and fun throughout the winter, you can bring them outside to add some extra color and excitement to you pots and flower beds for the summer season!
These five common houseplants are sure to bring vibrant color to your outdoor flower beds in Iowa this spring.
Also called wood sorrel or false shamrock, oxalis are common favorite houseplants. The purple version of oxalis is the most popular, but there is a wide variety of colors across the genus of some 900 cultivars. These beautiful houseplants can add elegance, color, and delicate texture to your outside flower beds this spring.
You should not plant oxalis outside until nighttime temperatures stay above 55º in the spring, usually around mid-May. There are two cultivars of oxalis, Bermuda buttercup oxalis, and creeping wood sorrel, which are considered invasive. Other varieties are not invasive, and most won’t survive an Iowa winter outside.
Oxalis prefer bright, indirect light, but they can take a few hours of direct sun. They should have dappled shade in the hottest part of the afternoon to protect them. Allow the soil to dry to a depth of 2-3 inches before watering.
Caladiums are commonly called elephant ears or angel wings. They’re closely related to alocasia and colocasia, which share the common name of elephant ear. The foliage of these gorgeous houseplants will add unique leaf shapes and striking color patterns to your outside flowers in spring.
Caladiums are tropical, so it’s ideal to wait until spring has actually almost passed to plant these striking houseplants outdoors. Around June 1, or until nighttime temperatures are 60º is ideal. These beauties work well in patio containers, hanging baskets, mass plantings, or window boxes.
The most common color combinations for these houseplants are pinks, greens, and whites, and they have gorgeous variegated leaves. With so many different cultivars, they come in a wide variety of patterns and sizes.
Caladiums tend to prefer partial to full shade, though some varieties will take quite a lot of sun. Generally, in the north, they can take more sun but should have dappled afternoon shade. Caladiums need good drainage but also need to have consistently moist soil through the season.
Crotons are popular, colorful, low-maintenance houseplants that can brighten up your outside planters in spring. They feature large shiny leaves with bold variegations in red, pink, orange, yellow, black, white, and green. They’re very eye-catching!
Croton houseplants prefer warm weather, so you can move them outside once nighttime temps are consistently above 60º. Crotons need excellent drainage. They don’t tolerate wet feet, but they do like slightly moist soil. They prefer to be planted in full sun, though they will take some shade. Their color variegations will also be more vivid in full sun locations.
One warning with crotons, as houseplants or if you are planting them outdoors, is that they don’t love to be moved very much, so try not to shift them around too many times while deciding where to place them. And don’t be surprised or worried if these houseplants drop a few leaves shortly after moving outside in the spring.
Gerbera daisies are cheerful houseplants with vibrantly colored, long-lasting flowers. The flowers are gorgeous in the garden, as a houseplant, or as cut flowers in a vase. They come in just about every color in the rainbow and there are even varieties with double or crested flowers.
These popular flowering plants need excellent drainage and a full-to-part sun location when planted outside. A little afternoon shade is helpful. Try to avoid planting them too close to cement or patio pavers since the heat that reflects from them can be overwhelming. You can plant gerbera daisies outside once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 40º.
To keep your gerbera daisies blooming, as houseplants or outside, deadhead them as soon as a bloom starts to fade. Keep them watered consistently, and fertilize them once a month for best growth and flowers. Gerbera daisies are a relatively short-lived perennial, with most of them starting to look a little sad after three to four years.
Rex begonias are beloved houseplants because of their uniquely patterned leaves. There are over 1,000 species of begonia, and the color variance on their leaves and vibrant flowers are a welcome addition to indoor jungles. But, they also make a fantastic statement in planters or flower beds outside in the spring.
The sunshine is more popular with rex begonias than other types of begonias, but they should still have some shade to protect them from the hottest part of the day. If you can’t get your rex begonias to bloom as houseplants, they probably need more light. You can plant them outside once nighttime temperatures are above 60º.
Humidity is important for all begonias, so ideally they should have a humidifier nearby as houseplants and will do best when planted near water features or ponds outside. Begonias like consistently moist soil, but they need good drainage to avoid root rot. You can fertilize them monthly through spring and summer for strong growth.
Getting Your Houseplants Ready to Go Outside
If you have some of these houseplants in your home already, and you want to use them in your outdoor decor, we have a blog post that explains how to get your houseplants ready for summer vacation outside safely.
Once we hit mid to late August, you should start to think about transitioning your houseplants back indoors, and we also have a guide for how to do that, the shock-free way.
If you don’t have any of these houseplants in your collection yet, what are you waiting for? Snap them up at the garden center, enjoy them outdoors all summer, and then add them to your beautiful indoor jungle in the fall.