Posted on October 12th, 2018

Bringing your houseplants in for winter care

If you are like me, your house is starting to look a bit like a beautiful jungle. My lovely houseplants have been basking in the glory of summer outdoors but as the weather starts to shift and temperatures begin dropping into the 50’s, it’s time for them to become snowbirds. I have begun their move to the more temperate indoors because I don’t want my plant babies to get too cold outside. I have a variety of plants outside from succulents to tropical Hibiscus to maiden hair ferns.  My succulents have been basking in the full sun and the ferns have been enjoying the dappled shade of two large oaks.  I want to make this move inside as easy and painless as possible for them.  How do I do this?

  1. Treat for insects on the plants.  Before I bring any plants inside, I am going to spray them down from top to bottom with horticultural oil.  The oil will suffocate any sneaky insects or insect eggs that are trying to stow away on the leaves, branches or stems.  It is so important to keep them safe from mealy bug, scale, and aphids in particular. Neem Oil works great too.
  2. Treat for insects in the soil.  Fungus gnats are not a huge detriment to the plant but they are a huge nuisance to people.  They fly around disguising themselves as fruit flies but they are soil dwellers that feed on decaying organic matter in the soil.  Punch holes in the soil with a pencil and sprinkle Mosquito Bits on top the soil to stop these little stinkers from breeding. Use Sticky Stakes to catch some of the adults and stop them from mating before it’s too late.
  3. Treat for insects in the soil again! What Mosquito Bits can’t get, Diatomaceous Earth will take care of.  Use the same method as above.  Diatomaceous earth will help control other soil dwelling critters from mealy bugs to ants to sow bugs.
  4. Fertilize one last time.  Give all your plants an appropriate fertilizer as a last hoorah for the season.  Most house plants can take a little break from fertilizer through the coldest winter months.  They aren’t so hungry at this time of year and a little sleepy. 
  5. Acclimate slowly.  If possible, bring plants in slowly over a week’s time.  If the pot is not too heavy for you to move around, bring your houseplants in during the cold nights and back out during the day.  Once day time temperatures reach 50, bring them in full time.  If one of your houseplants is used to the full sun, slowly get them used to a little shade before bringing them right inside.  The light inside is quite different from the sun outside. In other words, don’t shock your houseplants.  Ease them into their new winter home!
  6. Wash your windows.  Do a little fall cleaning and clean up the dirt and dust on your windows.  In this case, a little dirt can hurt. For those houseplants that need a brightly lit space, like succulents, you would be surprised how dusty windows can really reduce sunlight inside.
  7. Humidify.  There are some plants that are really fond of lots of moisture and sometimes these snowbird babies don’t love all the heat in our winter homes.  For plants such as:
    1. Easter lily and Gardenia, place a saucer filled with pebbles and water underneath the pot.  They will soak up the evaporating water.
    2. Love them but not too much! Be careful of overwatering.  Too much water is a common cause of demise of houseplants indoors.  Water on the side of caution.  For most plants, allow the soil to dry out a little bit before watering it all the way through again.  ZZ, Ponytail Palms, and Begonias would greatly benefit from this practice. 

    So, let your snowbird plant babies fly to their new home indoors for the fall and winter. They will miss their warm home outdoors so make the transition for them as smooth as possible.  You want them to be as happy inside as they were outside this summer.  A move is stressful on anyone, including plants, so give them a little extra TLC.  They deserve it!

    Come see us at Van Wilgen’s.  We would love to help!

    Thanks a bunch…Stacey


    *Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil

    *Mosquito Bits

    *Safer Sticky Stakes

    *Bonide’s Diatomaceous Earth

    *Fertilizer (many choices)