When the weather gets cold there are many garden plants that be keep inside. This guide is about bringing plants indoors for the winter.
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The end of a summer vacation can come as a shock to some, especially to the tropical houseplants we put out on the deck and patio to reinvigorate over the summer. Once temperatures start to dip into the mid-40s (in some cases 50s), they start to risk becoming injured from the cold. Moving them from full sun and chilly nights spent outdoors to a dim and toasty room indoors can be quite a shock. Here's how to safely reintroduce them to life indoors for the winter.
If insects are problem, treat plants with the appropriate organic insecticidal soap or horticultural spray. Repeat the treatments as directed (usually several days or weeks). Once you finally move them indoors, as an added precaution you should continue to isolate them from the plants in the rest of your house for several weeks.
By Ellen Brown
Summer break is almost over for tender perennials and houseplants that have been vacationing on the patio. With cooler weather starting to move in, it's time to start preparing them for the big move back indoors. From a plant's perspective, a move of only a few feet can be potentially stressful-in some cases, even deadly. To keep your plants healthy going into winter, you need to reintroduce them to indoor conditions in the same way you introduced them to the conditions outdoors-gradually.
By Ellen Brown
Every year I enjoy my potted flowers all summer. So much so that I try to bring something indoors to winter over. One year it was green onions and chard, and one year it was petunia seedlings that had volunteered under the parent plants.
This year my creeping jenny has really gotten huge. It had an impatients in with it which got frosted. So now there's a creeping jenny in my one and only sunny window. Maybe I'll put in my little ceramic angel. They'd look nice together.
It will soon be time to bring plants in side for the northern gardeners. A boot tray makes an excellent floor for your plants to drain on. They are inexpensive and will protect your furniture or floors.
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Here are questions related to Bringing Plants Indoors for the Winter.
What should I spray on my houseplants before bringing them back inside?
Andrea from No. Turner, Maine
By Lynda (Guest Post)09/16/2008
I'd definitely spray lightly but thoroughly with alcohol, wait ten minutes, then spray with plain soapy water and let plant leaves dry. The two sprayings should take care of most things. Remember that many will go into shock from the change of temp, lighting, and air, so do it gradually, if you can.
Start by turning them all the way around right where they are. Then move them after a few days of that new direction towards the door to your home. Next into the shade nearest the door for a day or two, finally you are ready to place near a window inside, or to the final resting place n o t near a vent, fan, fireplace, or gas jet. Plants will curl up and die quickly with that condition.
Try to keep them in as close to the same conditions they had outside as possible. If you must leave for a trip, cover them with clear thin plastic with toothpick holes in the top of the plant for their oxygen exhaust to rise and leave from their "breathing". Be sure to leave a lot more holes around the bottom edge of the plastic for it to suck carbon dioxide in. Don't leave plastic on it more than two weeks. This cuts down on drying out.
However, know your plants needs and habits well enough that you don't over or under water or fertilize. If it is a blooming tropical, it will possibly bloom in the winter or go dormant, depending upon how far you are from the tropics.
If a ficus, it will loose it's leaves when only slightly moved or wind blown and look dead but will grow them back over time and has not died unless it has been over or under watered, or over fertilized.
If a plant is a very slow grower, don't give it fertilizer often, but instead, spray it's leaves with fish emulsion, but water when dry soil. Remember this has an odor cats like. To smell and try to eat. Most plants are poison. Use good judgment.
If it's a fast grower, it's also a big eater, needing more fertilizer, benefiting most likely from egg shells and a little used coffee grounds once every other month.
If it's an annual, it will likely need more sun than you can provide, so don't be surprised if it gets leggy or loses most leaves and finally dies. Do no water or fertilize often. Let it rest and tell you when it needs water by the droopy or curled leaves. If leggy after a few weeks, move it closer to natural sunlight, but not in a hot window.
If a cactus or succulent, just let it dry out and water sparsely, with practically no fertilizer other than wal-mart
If an ivy, and dark leafed, it will grow most anywhere other than a closet. Same with a prayer plant, but both need lots of water. Varigated leaves require more light.
If an unknown, find out by networking or taking a leaf to the local garden center and asking the oldest or the manager what kind it is and what it needs to survive indoors in the winter.
All plants are different, need special attention, cannot be treated the same. The healthier the plant, the less pests.
Indoor climate, temp can be deadly especially if there are many plants competing for the same air, so scatter them throughout the house nearest to sunny windows. If no sun, good luck. I've kept them alive for several weeks with only lamp light, but they got ugly and sickly, wasting my money and time because of my lack of knowledge/experience back then.
If you purchased it from the indoor part of a garden center, it needs to be grown indoors, even if it grows ok outdoors. If from the sunny front of the center, keep it in lots of sun. This is the rule, but some centers hire folks who don't know much and this is confusing to purchasers.
Don't try to grow trees indoors unless you know all about them, have high ceilings, and good lighting, or the tree needs semi-shade. Same with shrubs and evergreens.
Prayer plants, airplane plants, ivies, and sheflerras seem to do best in my darker home with little natural light because it faces west and has few windows.
What do I use to treat the soil of plants that I want to bring inside for the winter? I have Safer Soap that I can treat the plant itself, but what about the soil?
I have 2 big Boston ferns hanging outside that will need to be brought in for the winter. How can I keep the leaves from falling off and keep it alive through the winter?
Vickie from Earle, Arkansas
By Polly (Guest Post)10/15/2008
Ferns take in alot of water from the air around them. I would mist them lightly every day as winter air in a home is extremely dry.
I would like to bring my fern inside for the winter, but I don't want to bring any insects inside with it. Should I spray my fern with some solution to get rid of the insects before bringing the fern inside?
By Barb B
By Frugal Sunnie10/08/2011
If the fern is in the ground, leave it where it is because it's acclimatised and will be fine-it may look dead with winter but will perk right up in the spring.
If it's in a container, first give the soil a good soak with the garden hose and while you're doing that, spray the undersides of the fronds by tilting the hose nozzle up from underneath the fronds to blast (but gently) the critters out. I say gently because you don't want to blast off the spores on the undersides of the fronds-that's your foliage for next year and if you knock them all off you will shorten your ferns life.
If you see any critters escaping the unwanted bath, you could then follow up by using a drop of a very mild soap and water mixed to spray the soil and the fronds (including from underneath to avoid giving 'hitchhikers' a place to hide). You can find the size spray bottle I'm talking about at the dollar stores, etc.
Let the pot drain completely before moving it inside, and think about getting help if it's a large pot:)
I'm including a link with answers to lots of fern questions by a horticulturalist: