Bringing Houseplants in for Winter

— Written By Taylor Campbell and last updated by
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As the weather cools down and the days grow shorter, it’s time to prepare your beloved houseplants for the transition from the great outdoors to the cozy confines of your home. Bringing your plants indoors can be a delicate process, but with the right care and attention, you can ensure a smooth and successful transition. This guide provides you with essential steps to follow, from pruning and pest control to temperature and lighting adjustments, so your houseplants can thrive throughout the colder months. Let’s dive into the details to make sure your green companions are ready for the indoor season.

To begin, it’s crucial to start with a thorough pruning. Remove all dead or dying foliage, as well as any unwanted debris that may have accumulated on your plants while they were outside.

Before bringing your houseplants back indoors, invest in some pest control and prevention. Spraying them thoroughly with neem oil is an excellent way to tackle common houseplant pests, such as thrips, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. For more stubborn pests like mealybugs, a bit of extra TLC is needed. You can remove mealybugs using isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. After applying neem oil, make sure to wipe the leaves down with a soft cloth or paper towel to remove any eggs or larvae. Keep in mind that neem oil has a strong odor, so if you’re sensitive to smells, allow your houseplants a few days to “air out” before moving them indoors. Another method to combat soil-dwelling pests is to add a layer of aquarium sand or gravel to the soil surface, about an inch thick. This prevents larvae from crawling up the plant stems and feasting on the leaves.

When it comes to temperature, ensure that your houseplants are placed away from drafty windows, which can cause leaf damage, and keep them at a safe distance from fireplaces and heaters to avoid harming their sensitive tissues. Most tropical plants thrive at temperatures between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Grouping your plants together can help trap heat and humidity, creating an ideal microenvironment.

As for lighting, you may need to use UV grow lights to provide sufficient day length. However, be cautious not to leave grow lights on for more than 8 hours a day to avoid overexposure.

During the winter months, many tropical houseplants go dormant, leading to reduced water requirements. To determine when your houseplants need watering, consider using a soil moisture meter. Some houseplants, like those from the Genus Alocasia, may go completely dormant, causing the above-ground portion of the plant to die temporarily. Nevertheless, continue caring for the roots, as the plant will likely regenerate.

In terms of fertilization, it’s best to avoid fertilizing your houseplants during their dormant stage.

Lastly, it’s essential to be mindful of the well-being of your pets and children. Some houseplants are toxic to both animals and humans, including Epipremnum (pothos), Philodendron, Sansevieria (snake plant), Ficus (rubber tree), Sago palm, Dracaena (corn plant), and members of the Liliaceae family such as peace lily, calla lily, and amaryllis. Keep these plants out of reach of pets and children. For non-toxic options, consider houseplants like Fittonia (nerve plant), Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant), Calathea, and Chamaedorea elegans (Bella palm).

In conclusion, transitioning your houseplants from outdoor to indoor conditions requires careful preparation and attention to detail. By following these recommendations, you can ensure a seamless shift, providing your green companions with the care they need to thrive throughout the winter. With the right approach, your indoor garden can continue to flourish even as the weather outside turns cold.