If you are a gardener, you probably have a host of plants that you have summered outside and intend to bring them inside for the winter. Moving your plants inside in the fall requires some preparation. Not only must you take measures to get rid of any insects or disease, if you are moving the entire plant, but it also needs time to adjust to the conditions inside the home, as well. Following eight simple steps you can increase your chances of success.
Evaluate Your Plants Before Moving Them Inside
Evaluate your plants carefully and decide which plants you can conveniently add to your home for the winter. If you are like me, you probably want to bring them all inside, but that may not be practical.
Take Cuttings or Slips From Large Fleshy Plants
Take slips from large fleshy plants, such as coleus, impatiens and begonias. Although you can bring the entire plant inside, if space is limited, a few slips may be the best option.
Clip 3 to 6-inch sections off the growing ends of the branches. Remove the bottom leaves and place the cuttings in a glass or vase of water. Place in a warm area that receives bright indirect light. Change the water if it becomes stagnant or add new water each day to keep the water level consistent. New roots form within a week and are typically ready to replant in two to three weeks.
Inspect Your Plants for Insects
Inspect plants for any signs of insects before bringing them inside. A quick wash with a little dish detergent and water typically controls insects and give you the peace of mind that you are not bringing insects inside.
Check the soil, drainage holes and the sides of the pots for any insects. Remove the drainage tray and inspect the drainage holes. Earwigs, slugs and other crawly creatures often hide in this area.
Cut Back Large Plants Before Bringing Them Inside
If you simply must bring the entire plant inside, get out the clippers and give it a good trimming. Be ruthless and cut them back to 3 to 4 inches from the soil. Although you may hesitate to trim that beautiful plant, cutting it back improves both health and appearance. Plants that are moved inside in the fall tend to lose their leaves and become a bit scraggly looking. By cutting them back, you encourage new full growth. Within a few weeks you plant will show improved appearance and health.
Some plants such as ivies, pothos, impatiens, begonias and geraniums benefit from being cut back to at least ½ their height and will thrive if cut back to within a few inches of the crown.
Repot the Plant
You may be tempted to leave your plant in the same pot it has grown in all summer, but this isn’t always a good idea. Soil needs replacing as it becomes depleted of nutrients and this a good time to complete the chore, besides it will give you a good opportunity to check the soil for bugs and worms. Choose a pot that complements the area where it will be displayed to give your plants a new look.
Wash and Dry
That’s right. Before you bring those plants inside, its time to give them a quick bath to rid them of any insects you may have missed. A few drops of dish detergent to a quart of warm water will do the trick. Dip the foliage into a bowl filled with the solution and give the leaves a quick swoosh. Allow foliage to dry completely before bringing the plant inside.
Transitioning – Allow Plants Time to Adjust by Placing in a Cool Room
Place the plant in a cool room that mimics the outside temperature to allow it to adjust to an inside environment. Gradually move the plant to warmer areas of your home. This eliminates the stress to the plant and prevents leaf drop that may occur if temperatures fluctuate too much.
Large plants such as poinsettia, ornamental trees and those that require several years to produce full growth should be brought inside before the temperature begins to drop at night. Move them to a cool area of the home and allow them to adjust for a week or two before returning them to your living area.
Place the plants in the appropriate lighting and water when the soil is dry. An application of water-soluble fertilizer will help your plants adjust, but remember to cease fertilizing in October and allow your plants to rest through the winter. Resume fertilizing in the spring when a new flush of growth appears.
By planning ahead many of your outside plants will thrive in your home during the winter, adding refreshing green foliage in the midst of dark winter days.