Bringing Plants Indoor for the Winter

Garden Success Tip of the Week

Bringing Plants Indoors For the Winter – If you’ve been growing your tropical plants outdoors all summer, as summer fades and fall arrives, it’s time to get them ready to go back inside the house for the winter.  Begin this process in mid to late September, so the plants will be ready to go indoors before the weather gets too cold.  And always keep an eye open for that early frost!

Bringing Plants Indoors – The first thing to do is to move your tropical or non-hardy plants into a shady location outside, and leave then there for 10 days to 2 weeks.  This helps to acclimate them to the lower light conditions they’ll be receiving once inside your home.  By the way, during this time, do be aware of possible cold temperatures and even frosts, where your plants will need extra protection!

-Just before bringing them inside, there are three things for you to do.  Hose them off with a strong stream of water. You may even want to do this a couple times while they’re acclimating in the shade.  This helps to blow off any insects that may be hanging out on the plants.  Immediately before bringing them inside, give your plants a good spraying of insecticidal soap, making sure you spray tops and bottoms of the leaves, stems, trunks and all.  Again, trying to get rid of any hitchhiking bugs!  (If you do this the same day you’re bringing them inside, let the spray dry, then bring the plants indoors.)

-If possible, lay the plant on its side, slide it out of the pot, and inspect the root ball for any unwanted bugs or anything else that may be hiding in the bottom of the pot.  Rodents, even snakes have been found hiding here.  One way to make sure nothing is in the soil (ants, etc.) is to fill a large tub with water, and then submerge the plant pot and all in the water for several hours.  Anything in the soil will either drown, or will float to the top of the water.  It’s also a great way to soak the soil.  Just make sure you allow it plenty of time to drain before bringing it into the house.

-Move your tropical plant indoors to a well-lit area indoors, and away from heat vents and cold drafts.  Place a saucer under the pot.  As a general rule, water the plants well, let dry, water again.  And never let water sit in the saucer.  Use luke warm water for watering.  Expect leaves to drop as the plants make their final acclimation to the indoor lighting.  It’s natural.  And do keep your eyes open for any flare-ups of insects on the plants.  Keep insecticidal soaps, systemic insecticides, and whitefly traps on hand just in case.  Reduce feeding to nothing or an occasional shot of a water-soluble fertilizer, which can be increased once the days start to get longer, come next spring!

-Again, do expect leaves to fall once the plants are inside, as the sunlight just isn’t what it was outside.  Stick with them, water only as needed, watch for outbreaks of insects and catch them early, and your tropical plants should make it through the winter, and be ready to get back outside late next spring.  We also suggest a good rinsing off several times through the winter, and the shower is the perfect place to do it!  Knocks off many bugs, cleans the leaves, and the plants love the water and the humidity in the shower.  Use luke-warm water, and let them shower for 5-10 minutes.

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Ron Wilson

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