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September 20, 2023

Vacation Is Almost Over For Houseplants

If you have houseplants on the deck or patio, it’s time to keep an eye on the thermometer and an ear to weather reports. Nighttime temps will soon begin to plummet and frost will be in the forecast. That means summer vacation is over for your fair weather plants and you’ll have to bring them indoors.

The sooner you start planning for this migration, the easier it’ll be. You first decision will be where to put the plants you’ll be bringing back into the house. Are their old homes still waiting for them? Or are they occupied by new plants you acquired over the summer? If their old homes await their return, great! If their spots have new occupants, then begin the transition by shuffling plants around to make room.

Your houseplant transition doesn’t have to take place all at once. Move each plant inside as the forecast overnight low nears its cold tolerance level. They should all be back indoors when the first hard frost warning is issued.

Be sure the plants are clean before moving them inside. Remove weeds that may have taken up residence in their container. Also guard against taking insects indoors where they can infest your healthy plants. If you can see insect activity, such as eggs, chewed leaves or the insects themselves, pick off what’s visible and hose off others. If no insects or insect activity’s visible, take the precautionary step of shaking the plant and then submerging the container in water to drown any insects in the soil or on the soil surface.

Quarantining the plants for a day or two before taking them into the house would be a good idea if you’re able to. You need a place in which they can get sufficient sunlight during the day and not freeze at night. Suggestions include a garage or outbuilding with enough windows to let photosynthesis continue, or a glassed in, unheated sunroom. This quarantine will allow the plants to adjust to an inside environment gradually. It’ll also give soil an opportunity to dry out from dunking, and you can check for any lingering insects.

Don’t forget to water the quarantined plants if they need it. When you take the plants indoors, use a moisture meter or base your watering regimen on the humidity in the house and the feel of the soil.

Plants whose crowns are substantially larger than when you put them outside can be pruned before going into the house. Otherwise, they may not fit the space you have allocated for them. Using pruning shears or sharp kitchen scissors remove one third or up to half the foliage. If you can identify new growth, pruning off only that foliage will return the plant to its size when you took it outside. When pruning, always try to maintain the plant’s natural shape.

Your houseplants added an attractive touch to your deck or patio all season. But now it’s time to bring them back to their natural environment. There’s a reason why they’re called houseplants; the house is their natural habitat. These easy steps will make the transition good for the plants and for you.