Rather than let our tender plants succumb to winter, we can easily transfer them indoors. This move not only keeps the plants alive, but allows us to save money on future plants and enjoy the benefits of houseplants in the off-season, like purer air and a more refreshing atmosphere. Every successful transition includes potting, pest management, and acclimatization. Learn how to succeed with these key steps:
1. Know Your Plants
Many plants grown as annuals in zone 5 are actually perennials in southern climates. That means they can survive into next spring if we bring them inside. Herbs, such as rosemary, do well indoors, as do plants like geraniums, begonias, impatiens, coleus, bougainvilleas, hibiscus, and more. Your succulents or houseplants that you moved outdoors in the spring will need to be welcomed back before the first touch of frost, too.
Learning to move tender plants indoors is an easy way to enjoy a piece of your garden during the winter.
2. Dig Up and Repot
How to begin? Dig up any plants from the garden that you want to bring in. Pot them with fresh potting soil to reduce the risk of any hitchhiking pests. Keep in mind that some plants, like succulents, require a succulent or cactus mix. You may also seize the occasion to refresh the soil of any tender plants that are already in pots. If not, remember to remove any leaf litter and debris that they’ve collected over summer, as these can also harbor insects.
3. Wash, Prune, and Check for Pests
Give each plant a thorough inspection for pests. Look on top and below the leaves, along the stems and in the joints of branches. Common stowaways include aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. Spray down each plant with water until they’re clean, especially if you notice any pests. Make sure to prune off any infected leaves and any diseased or weak parts of the plant. It’s best not to prune more than one-third of the leaves at a time. If any are especially infected, you might choose to spray them with an organic insecticide or simply not move those tender plants indoors.
4. How to Give them a Gradual Transition
Like us, plants do better with gradual transitions. A sudden change of environment can bring stress. So start by moving them indoors overnight and bring them back outside in the morning. Slowly increase their time inside over the course of two weeks, as they acclimate to the indoor temperatures, humidity, and sunlight. Many tender perennials won’t tolerate dips below 45° F, so move them in before those cool temperatures arrive.
5. Sunlight Inside
Once the plants are inside, be sure they’re receiving enough sunlight. Usually, they need a minimum of 4-6 hours per day over the winter. If you see them stretching towards the window, it’s a sign that they are not receiving enough. Grow lights are an inexpensive way to provide additional rays. On the other hand, windows sometimes intensify the sun, so check in on your guests to see that they are not being scorched.
6. Water and Humidity
Each plant has specific needs, but in general, they require less water over winter as they won’t be growing as much. Furnaces can also dry out the house. Crinkled and brown edges of leaves may be a sign of poor humidity. Misting plants with a spray bottle is a simple fix. You can also place their pot on top of a larger dish of small rocks. Add water to the rocks and let the evaporating moisture slowly humidify the plant above.
7. Delay Fertilizing
As many plants slow down over winter, they won’t need fertilizing, which can spur their growth and interrupt their seasonal cycles. It’s best to wait until the spring to give them a boost of nutrients, although this may vary depending on the type of plant and an individual’s particular needs.
Learning to move tender plants indoors is an easy way to enjoy a piece of your garden during the winter. To keep the rooted-ones healthy, it’s best to welcome them with all of these steps. If you need advice on how to care for specific plants or if you require any supplies, feel free to contact our garden center in the Quad Cities!