No matter how well you take care of your plants, they will always benefit by a once yearly return to nature. If you have a garden, plan to transfer your plants there for two or three of the summer months. If you can’t arrange garden space for the plants, just transferring them to an open porch will be greatly beneficial.
If you are able to move your plants into the garden, remember that the conditions they like indoors must be duplicated in the open. Don’t therefore put the pot of ferns you have had in a shady corner out in the open under the full sun. Your ferns and ivy should be kept in a shady spot, just as your cacti and succulents can be set out where they receive direct sunlight most of the day.
Although some gardeners recommend that you take the plants out of their pots and plant the ball of earth directly in the garden soil, we feel that the best procedure is to sink the pots into the soil, plunging the pot so that the rim protrudes just above the surface, leaving the plant pot-bound. It is advisable to drop a few clinkers into the trough or hole into which you are going to set your pots, making sure that a concave piece covers the drainage hole; otherwise you may find the hole clogged by a family of hungry earthworms. The clinkers (and/or gravel) also act as a drainage bed. We favor keeping the plants in their pots during the summer in the garden for two reasons: 1) the change of environment is not so sudden as it would be if the plant were transferred to a completely new soil, and 2) the roots are contained. If the plants are allowed to grow free, the roots often spread to the point where, at the end of the summer when it is time for them to return indoors, there is no way to repot them without cutting their roots to a fatal degree. It is at the start of the summer, incidentally, when your plants should be inspected to determine whether they should be repotted. This subject will be covered thoroughly in Chapter 6, which covers potting and repotting.
Don’t think that just because your plants are out of the house for the summer that they can be neglected entirely. You must see that, if the rainfall is light, they get enough water, and they should be inspected from time to time to see that they are clear of pets. See Chapter 9 on pests and diseases.