Among the most common apartment varieties, the ficus cultivated at home belong to numerous species, almost all coming from the tropical areas of Asia; the climate characteristic of the areas of origin is surely mild, but what differentiates it from the European climate is surely the almost total absence of sudden changes in temperature: in the tropical areas the temperature can drop even below 10-15 ° C, but surely this change does not happen suddenly, and these temperatures remain for weeks.
Therefore, for most of the autumn, the ficuses can find a place in the open, provided that they are in a sheltered place and far from the sun, so that the temperature during the day does not have high changes; we will bring our ficuses to the shelter in the house only when the minimum temperatures will tend to drop very much.
Succulents belong to hundreds of different genera, originating from different parts of the globe, from areas with alpine climate to tropical paradises, but in general they are plants that tend to adapt to the best in places with warm or temperate climate.
In reality, most cacti, and therefore all cacti, with globular or cylindrical habit and thorns, are native to the drought, desert and semi-desert areas of Central and South America. We are used to think of such places as torrid deserts, in reality most of these zones have a certain altitude, and furthermore, as it happens also in the great African deserts, the temperature ranges between the night and the day are very high, and during the cold season may occur also periods of frost.
Therefore, a good part of the cacti is perfectly capable to stand very high temperature changes and cold temperatures, often close to the -10/-12°C; this provided that the cultivation soil is completely dry. So a good part of the cacti can be outdoors even during the winter, provided they are sheltered from the weather and rain and in a sunny position.
As far as succulents are concerned, instead, each species and variety has its own precise requirements; many agavaceae do not fear the cold and the frost, and can survive even in the garden, in the open ground, as it happens for some yuccas: if the frost should be very intense, it may happen that the outer leaves dry up, but in spring the plant will return more beautiful than before; the same applies to some species of dragon, which in nature withstand very harsh climates.
Some species of crassulae and most of the sempervivum and the sedum live much better in open air than at home, on the contrary, the vegetative rest caused by the winter cold favours their flowering, whilst the perpetually “spring” climate of the houses tends to deprive the plants of their natural vegetative cycle.
Most of the other succulents prefer a temperate climate, not very hot, but without sudden changes in temperature and with minimum temperatures of not less than 12-15 ° C, then by mid-autumn, or even later if we are lucky enough to live in areas with a mild climate, it is advisable to store them indoors or in the greenhouse.
Almost all the species of orchids cultivated in greenhouses, due to their showy flowers, are of Asian or South American origin; they come from areas with big pluvial forests, warm humid climate and minimum temperatures never lower than 10-12°C; therefore, already in September, it would be advisable to find their place in the house.
Only some species, such as the cymbidium, can remain in the open till the first cold winter, but then, by sure, they will spend some months indoors, far away from the frost.
Plants and cold: Leaf plants
In apartment we cultivate a lot of plants which “in captivity” do not bloom, but produce only big coloured leaves, most of these plants come from the undergrowth of the big warm forests, and usually prefers temperatures not lower than 15°C; most of these plants, however, can bear, without any problem, some hours of the day at 10-12°C, therefore we can leave them on the terrace till the end of September or mid-October, without fearing that they will suffer damages due to the cold.
The advantage is a climate certainly healthier for the plants, which are often placed at home near a wall, often losing foliage on the side that grows near the wall, and also a longer period spent with good ventilation and natural humidity. Unfortunately in the apartment most plants tend to adapt, but do not find an ideal climate, especially when the domestic heating and air conditioning dry the air, making it unhealthy for most plants.
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