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The Homeowner’s Guide to Bringing Houseplants Inside for Winter

The Homeowner’s Guide to Bringing Houseplants Inside for Winter

Summer is officially over and cool fall nights are setting in. Just as summer ended for us, vacation time is also over for houseplants.

For most plants, the transition is not as simple as moving a pot off the porch and into the kitchen. Taking a few basic steps will help ensure that your plants will survive the move indoors.

Below are some tips to ensure that your plants will acclimate to the conditions inside your home.

Timing is Everything

Because some areas experience a decrease in temperature sooner than others, experts cannot say which month or season is best for the indoor move. It varies for different geographical regions. Generally, tropical plants should be moved indoors before temperatures fall to the 40’s, and some could even be damaged in the low 50’s.

Dr. Dave Williams, a horticulture professor at Auburn University, said drastic drops in temperatures could result in destruction to plants.

“If temperatures decrease gradually over several nights, plants can be a little more resilient to the cold, but sudden temperature drops after a warm period of active growth can cause injury,” Williams said.

Mallory Kelley, an Alabama Extension agent specializing in home grounds, said some plants are an exception to the temperature rule.

“Citrus varies in its cold tolerance,” Kelley said.  “Lemons and limes for example can withstand mid 20’s, while kumquats can withstand 15-17 degree’s.”

Preparing for the Move

 Inspect plants and soil for spiders, worms, ants and other creatures that may have built a home in your greenery over the summer. If needed, spray with proper pest control products or repot the plant if insects have taken over the soil.

Williams also suggested cutting back on fertilizer since plants do not grow much while inside.

“Try to schedule moving so that you can water thoroughly and allow to them drain over a day or two before moving in,” Williams said.

Remove dead leaves or weakened branches, but no heavy pruning is recommended or necessary.

Proper Indoor Care

 An initial reaction when bringing plants inside is to place them in an area where they will receive direct sunlight, like they are accustomed to. However, Williams says that a ‘fairly brightly lit room,’ is best.

Be mindful when watering your plants. They often receive too much water, when very little water is actually needed.

Although there are many tips and tricks to making the transition easier, there is no specific secret to keeping your plants happy and healthy during the move indoors.

“Just get them through until weather warms up in the spring,” Williams said. “Then it’s time to do things like repot, prune, fertilize and move them to their happy place outdoors.”


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