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Can You Leave Plants in the Car?

by a Friendly Gardener
Can you leave plants in the car

Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by a Friendly Gardener

While most of us would never think of cultivating plants in our cars, if you do need to leave your plants in the car, it is possible if you follow a few simple rules. For those who can get enough greenery, plants can indeed survive and grow in a vehicle and beautify it. They can purify the air and better your mood especially if you are regularly stuck in traffic or must drive long hours daily. Plants can better your life while you are on the road.


Can Plants Be Left in a Car and Survive?

Plants to grow in car

Plants can survive when left in a car, but there are a few hitches. Extreme temperatures are a definite no. Hot weather in the summer months can be deadly. If you must leave plants inside your vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind. In warmer weather, try to park your car in the shade and away from direct sunlight. Keep windows slightly cracked to encourage air circulation.

Exceptionally cold weather can also create problems for plants in vehicles. During winter months, cars usually become too cold inside. In this case, it’s better to bring plants indoors, or if you have your heart set on cultivating a plant in your car to beautify your vehicle, choose a plant that can survive in your area’s winter temperatures.

Whichever season may torment vehicle-cultivated plants, place a thermometer in your car for monitoring extreme temperatures.

Another important consideration is to make sure your plant occupies a spot where it will be stable and not roll around during driving. Soil and water can easily spill from shifting plants, distressing the plant, and dirtying your car. If you don’t drink non-alcoholic beverages while in the car, your auto’s cupholder can be a nice safe spot.


How Long Can I Leave Plants in My Car?

How long a plant can survive in a car will depend on the kind of plant, the amount of light it needs and receives, the car’s humidity level, the car’s inside temperature, and how long you leave it in the car.

Some plants will be more resilient while others will droop and wilt within minutes. Consider that most plants will succumb to damage once temperatures hit the 90s Fahrenheit. Leaf drop, wilting, and eventually death may be the result of leaving a plant in extremely hot temperatures regardless of sunlight exposition.

Aswan University’s Waleed A Abdel-Fadeel’s Temperature Variations in a Parked Car cites temps in a car that rise as high as 176°F. Children and pets left in cars frequently die, plants are no different. Factor in the amount of sunlight exposure and the availability of water to assess a plant’s survival capabilities. Excessive sunlight exposure can cause plants to dry out completely or at least suffer some amount of dehydration.


Which Plants Are More Adaptable to Cultivation in a Car?

Several types of hardy plants can be cultivated indie your vehicle, provided that their light and temperature needs are met.


  • Geraniums

Geranium plants flowering

Brightly colored and scented geraniums are ideal for car cultivation. Fragrant foliage serves as a natural air freshener and the vibrant colors will liven up any car interior.


Ever feel that your St. Christopher medal isn’t sufficient? Try a lucky bamboo cane in a container filled with water and dress up your cup holder. You will need to keep an eye on the water level and change it occasionally, but hopefully, good fortune will accompany your travels.


  • Pothos Varieties

Pothos plants come in numerous varieties with stunning variegated foliage. They can be cultivated in either soil or water depending on what you prefer for the inside of your car. These plants are rapid growers and have a vining growth habit.


  • Snake Plants

The Sansevieria is practically indestructible and equally adaptable. Tolerant of various lighting conditions, they are very hardy and resilient. If you forget to water them, they are quite forgiving when neglected. They prefer that their soil bed dries out to overwatering.


  • Succulents and Cacti

Cacti plants in the car

These desert creatures thrive in both heat and drought, making them ideal for cultivation in a car during summer months. Hens and Chicks are a great option. Leave them bathing in car heat and they will thank you for it.


Factors that Affect Plants in Car Survival

Leaving plants in car

Several vital factors will affect any plant’s chances of survival in a car. Temperature alone should not be your only consideration. Verify and evaluate:


  • Light Exposure

Exposure to bright sunlight in a parked car is a determining factor for plant survival. If your plant does not love the full direct sun for extended periods, a car is not a place for it. Some plants will experience sunburn, burning, or the scorching of foliage when left in a car to roast.


  • Humidity Levels

A lack of humidity within a vehicle can cause a plant to dry out rendering them more susceptible to heat-induced damage. A general rule of thumb for most plants will be to provide humidity levels that measure between 40% and 60%.


  • How Long the Plant Is in the Car

The longer a plant is left in an exceptionally hot or cold car, the greater the risk of harm. Even several minutes can be detrimental to some plant species.


  • The Car’s Indoor Temperature

In the height of summer heat, temperatures can rise to 200°F and beyond. This will affect a plant’s ability to survive. A rapid heat increase will cause plants to lose moisture rapidly and place them at risk of dehydration.


  • The Plant Species

Some plants can thrive inside a hot car because they are heat and drought-tolerant. Cacti are a prime example of this.


Can Plants be Left Overnight in Cars

Transporting plants in a car

This is not recommended because temperatures can drop or rise even on evenings that appear to us to be mild. If you happen to have an expensive or beautiful plant this may also tempt thieves to damage your car and steal it.

If you must leave your plant in your car overnight, make sure to park in a well-lit area near your home to dissuade theft. Consider covering windows with a shade cloth to reduce heat and light entering. Mist your plants if you must leave them in the car to contrast the risk of dehydration, and finally check the weather forecast for your area to avoid leaving plants in cars during extreme weather events.

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