Overwintering Advice

Houseplants, Tropicals, Citrus, and Figs

As the days get shorter, start thinking about what to do to overwinter your plants. While your plants have enjoyed being outside in the summer, they need to come inside before the temperatures dip too low.

The proper way to handle the transition is to slowly inch their way back inside, from being out in the full sun to under a tree or a covered porch. This will give your plant time to acclimate slowly to the changing temperatures.

Houseplants, tropicals, and citrus are the plants that require this method. By transitioning slowly, you will help your plants in a big way. They are less likely to stress out and cause leaves to drop from your treasured plants. Before bringing them inside, there are a few things you should do:

  • Trim off any dead or unhealthy-looking branches. This helps the plant to direct its energy to all the parts of the plant that need it most.
  • Thoroughly hose down your plant, washing off any unwanted hitchhikers that might be coming in with the plant.
  • This tip is in my opinion the most important – apply some Neem Max to your plant. This will help keep your plant bug-free from the bottom up. I always recommend to my customers that they should always have a spray like neem oil or safer insect soap for the top part of their plant to kill any bugs they may see. And the Neem Max for the soil, for bugs you can’t see. This is especially important in overwintering.
  • Lastly, find the perfect spot for your treasured plants to vacation for the rest of the fall and winter months.
  • Remember, no fertilizing from November to March!
  • Watering is important… water the plant as you would normally. Remember, the roots are at the bottom of that pot, so you need to make sure you give the plant enough to ensure the roots can gather the water up. If you only give the plant a little each time, it doesn’t get deep enough in the soil for the roots to absorb it.

Now that covers most plants.
But there is one plant that over-winters very differently.

The fruit-bearing fig tree you will over-winter is completely the opposite of those plants we discussed above.

Follow these simple rules.

  • Let the fig tree get hit by the first frost or two.
  • Once the frost has done its job, it’s time to take the remainder of the leaves off and trim up your fig tree. You basically want to make your tree look like a stumpy stick figure by trimming the branches way back.
  • Next, wrap it up loosely in some burlap and place it in a cool dark spot for the winter. Usually, an attached garage or attic works best.
  • Now that your plant is ready for its long winter sleep, give it about 1 cup of water every month during this time. It’s enough to keep it alive but not let it come out of dormancy.
  • Around April bring your fig tree inside your house. This will start the process of waking it up for the season. Allow the plant to wake up and grow inside until the nighttime temperature outside stays above 50º. Generally, this is around June 1st.

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