Make sure houseplants are disease and pest free before bringing them inside. (Greenhouse and nursery of the four seasons)
The weather is finally starting to cool down and you may be thinking about moving your plants inside for the winter. It’s a great way to keep enjoying them, but there are a few steps you need to take to ensure success.
Most houseplants are tropical in nature, so they will not survive our cold temperatures and harsh winter conditions if left outside. Move them indoors near a window with strong light, in a sunroom, or some other place where they will get enough light. Adding grow lights or a good window cleaning can help if your house is too shabby.
Decide if you want to keep it in the same pot or repot it for the winter. If you won’t be repotting your plants, scraping the top inch or two of soil off the top of the pot and replacing it with fresh soil will go a long way toward eliminating any insect eggs that may have been laid in it while it was outside.
Making sure they are disease and pest free before you bring them in also ensures you won’t get an infestation and that your other houseplants will stay healthy. Once inside, inspect your plant for any lingering pests that may have made a trip. Sometimes they’re not that obvious when they’re outside, but once they get into a nice, warm environment, the eggs hatch and populations explode.
Start acclimating as soon as nighttime temperatures start to drop into the low 50s or upper 40s by bringing them indoors in the evening but bringing them outside each morning. This allows your plant to gradually get used to changes in sunlight intensity, humidity, etc. Gradually increase the time indoors over a period of several weeks until you have him indoors full time. You may experience some leaf drop, but this is normal as your plant adjusts to its changing conditions.
Once they are full-time indoor residents, turn the water on because they won’t need as much water as they did when they were outside, since the light levels will be lower and they will no longer be exposed to our windy conditions. However, they may still require regular watering if you use a wood stove as a heat source without other moisture. The best garden tool you have is your finger – stick it into the soil to test for moisture. Remember that plants are like people – not like wet feet in winter!
As a matter of general care, remove any dead or dried leaves or blooms to keep plants clean and tidy. You will want to continue to fertilize through the winter, but use a third or half strength solution and apply it only once a month. Since they are essentially in a semi-dormant state, they won’t need much.
Taking the time to acclimatize and move your houseplants for the winter is well worth the effort. There is nothing that reminds me that spring will return again quite like a bright and cheerful houseplant blooming in the window or on my table in the middle of winter.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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