The great thing about plants in a container is you can move them; and many types of indoor plants will perform much better if you give them a spell outside in fresh air, periodically. If you have a patio attached to the home, this is often a great spot for giving your indoor plants a breath of fresh air.
Growing pot plants that can be moved about between a patio and the indoors, can also provide constantly changing effects in both areas. Be careful though to not shock plants. Avoid taking them straight from a warm inside to a very cold winter outside; or a cool, air conditioned inside to a hot patio in the midst of a heat wave.
What is a patio?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a patio is
“A paved area beside the house used for outdoor meals or relaxation”
Indoor plants can always benefit from a spell outside. It allows them to get some fresh air and sunlight, and to recuperate from the ill-effects that can sometimes hamper their health if left indoors year after year.
Choose the Right Plants
Consider how great the difference is between the light, temperature, ventilation etc conditions in both areas – this will greatly affect how the plants cope with the change.
You should choose plants that are adaptable to those variations or else modify either the patio or the inside to be more like the other. For example, you could put a pergola over part of the patio to create light conditions similar to indoors.
Think about what rooms you will use plants in. Are they heated/air conditioned, with few or lots of windows etc?
Think about colour schemes …If walls in the house are white and walls in the patio are a similar colour, how will the plants you choose to grow look against those walls?
Golden Rule of Colour
If you’re unsure how the flower colour will fit with the surroundings – remember that you can never go wrong with white flowers.
What type of pot?
The most important consideration is that the pot must not be too big to move easily.
Aids to moving pots…
On polished boards, linoleum or tiles – put the pot on a rug and slide it along the floor.
Or use a trolley with rubber wheels… make sure large plants are tied onto the trolley …if they fall inside the house they could damage the walls or floor. Make sure the trolley and pot aren’t too large for the corridor of the house.
Pot size – the pot must be large enough to hold adequate potting mix and water for the plant to grow well, but not so large that it dwarfs the plant or becomes too heavy to move when it’s filled with soil.
Pot shape – avoid pots with narrow necks, otherwise you may have to break the pot when the plant needs repotting.
What about getting water on the floor?
Use long spout watering cans.
Use water wells (plastic reservoirs of water that are fitted inside pots) to reduce the frequency of watering.
Add water crystals (gel) to the mix to reduce the frequency of watering.
Use saucers under the pot, but take care. Ceramic saucers can mark/scratch the floor; thin plastic saucers can break with a heavy pot on them.
Caring for Patio and Indoor Plants
The conditions inside and out will be quite different, so you will need to treat the plants differently in each area. In summer, plants will need more frequent watering outdoors. They will need extra care to prevent sun scorching.
In winter, cut back on watering, especially for those plants that are kept indoors. If you leave pots outside, put them in a sheltered position where they won’t be damaged by frost or wind.
When to put them outside…
Over summer or winter hardiness depends on the plant variety, your climate and the conditions in your house and courtyard. Don’t leave tender plants outside in windy weather, or on very cold nights.
Group pots together to get a better effect. One of these pots on its own on a verandah would look lost.
Dracaena sanderana will grow well on a verandah in summer but in cold climates may be better brought inside over winter.
Maidenhair Fern does die back (sometimes completely to ground level) in cold winter conditions. If kept inside a warm house it may hold its leaves all year round. If left exposed to the cold, even on a verandah, it will still survive but the pot will look very bare until it regrows in spring. Don’t over water the fern during its winter dormancy.
An unprotected verandah like this can expose plants to extreme conditions of not only heat and cold, but also wind.
Tender plants might be moved to the front of the verandah in autumn and spring when conditions are mild, and to the back or indoors in summer and winter when conditions become harsh.
Shadow boxes are a great way of displaying indoor plants.
Carex (a grass-like plant) and Ivy are both attractive and hardy foliage plants that do well inside or out, tolerating changes in conditions –within reason.
Tropical indoor plants can be rested on a protected verandah during summer. They will benefit from the fresh air, but are best kept protected from chilly conditions over winter.
If you’re unsure of flower and pot colours that will match the surrounding décor, then go for white – its neutral and versatile.