Moving Potted Plants Indoors for the Winter

20 September 2022

Often people let their houseplants spend the summer outdoors enjoying the fresh air. As temperatures begin to drop, it is time to consider their return to the inside. This is usually a process. With warm days but chilly nights, you may want to consider moving the plants back and forth between the outside and bringing them into a garage or other closed area (not inside the house) overnight. This does take some effort, but the process of moving the plants indoors and out will help the plants adjust to the change of environment. You may still experience some leaf drop when they are inside.

Before the big transition, make sure your indoors area is prepared. Decide in advance where you will place them, based on the plants’ need for direct light or shade. If you put them on a sill or near a window, clean the window glass both inside and out for maximum light. If you are going to place them under grow lights, be sure you have the correct sizes and know how to suspend the fixtures over the plants.

When you are ready for the final transition, first plan to put them in your garage for a few days. As you are carrying the plants, if you notice insects, you can wash the pests off with a strong spray of water. Allow the plant to dry. Even if you don’t see any crawly things, use an insecticide. Spray the leaves, undersides of the leaves, and the soil. Move the plants into an intermediate area like your garage. After three or four days, the bugs should be gone, but check to be sure. If you need another dose of pesticide, now is the time. You don’t want to bring in anything that will start to infest your living quarters.

While they were outside, your houseplants got watered by nature. Inside you will need to monitor them for their drinking needs. They probably will require less saturation than outdoors since there is no wind to dry the soil. You can invest a few dollars in a probe that will tell you if the soil is wet, damp, or dry. Or, you can just stick your finger in the dirt and see for yourself. Follow moisture directions based on the plant. Some need a moist soil but many only need to be watered when they are about dry. At that point take them to the sink and water thoroughly. Allow the excess to drain out before returning them to their perch. While they are in the sink is a good time to check for any insects that may still be hovering.

If you ordinarily fertilize your plants, remember that the package directions are designed for outdoor life. You should probably reduce that amount by half. Plants have a circadian rhythm just like humans and pets. They will settle down for the winter months and you should see them perk up again in the spring, even though they are indoors.

Indoor air tends to be dryer than outside. If your HVAC system is equipped with a humidifier, be sure it is turned on. That will also help keep your furniture from drying and cracking and reduce the static charges that happen from walking across carpeting.

Happy Gardening.

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