Moving Houseplants Back Indoors in the Fall

houseplantOnce the warm summer nights begin to turn a little chilly in the fall, it is time to move houseplants indoors to keep them from dying during winter’s harsh weather.

To successfully transition your houseplants indoors, there are a few important steps to follow:

•    Timing: Depending on your climate and the hardiness of your plants, the time to bring in your houseplants will vary. However a good rule of thumb is to start transitioning your plants once temperatures frequent 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit—a rough estimate is when outside and inside temperatures are approximately the same.

•    Lighting: For about a week or so, you need to gradually adapt your houseplants to lower lighting. Even the sunniest location in your home does not offer as much light as outdoors. Plants that are accustomed to full sun should transition from full sun to light shade to full shade while still outside, to help prepare them for indoors. Once indoors, try to position plants according to their outdoor lighting needs. Full sun plants need the most light, thus place them in south-facing windows, if possible. You can try adding artificial light as well.

•    Check for pests: Before taking your plants indoors it is crucial that you check both on and under the leaves, on the stems and at the base of the plant; and from the top of the soil to the drainage holes for “hitchhiking” pests that are making a home out of your plants and in your containers. (Some suggest submerging the pot in water for 15 minutes. This often causes any hidden hitchhikers to scramble from the soil). If your plants are lightly infested, treat with an insecticidal soap—one that is safe for plants, pets and you—before bringing indoors. Repot or discard plants that are heavily infested with pests.

•    Indoor placement: As mentioned earlier, it is important to place plants in locations based on their lighting needs. However, if possible, make sure to separate the plants that you are bringing from outdoors from already established houseplants, to keep them safe from any hitchhikers that may still be prevalent.

•    Maintenance: Remove any dead or damaged leaves and give a quick rinse with the hose before bringing indoors. Once brought inside, make sure to adjust watering and feeding needs because indoor conditions are much different than outdoors. Water less frequently but more thoroughly once plants are inside—a good way to know when to water is to feel the soil. If the top inch of soil is dry to the touch, it is time to water. Many plants go dormant through winter. If this is the case, stop feeding your plants.  Also with indoor conditions often being much dryer, plants that thrive in humidity need a little extra care—either try a humidifier or mist your plants with a spray bottle.

With the right preparation and care, outdoor plants can successfully be brought indoors, filling our homes with beauty throughout the cold winter season.

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