Time to Bring In Your Houseplants

by Cindi SutterFounder & Editor of Spirited Table® - content & images provided by Otten Brothers Garden Center & Landscaping & Missy’s Weekly Pick

photo from Otten Brothers Garden Center

photo from Otten Brothers Garden Center

Missy's Weekly Pick

I've noticed temperatures are getting chilly - especially at night. Some places have even had frost advisories. I have heard my Otten people saying it is time to bring in any tender plants you want to overwinter inside, because they don't have a nice fur coat to stay warm like me. Otten Bros. has the purrrfect products to help in the transition.

Follow these simple steps and we can all enjoy healthy green plants in the cold and white of the winter months.

Keep only healthy plants: If something has been struggling all summer under the best of conditions, it is not going to improve indoors. Never bring in a plant with pests or disease. Don't convince yourself that you'll quarantine the plant until it's been treated. Problems spread more quickly among indoor plants than in the garden.

Be realistic about space and available light. You can always start cuttings that take up much less space.

Eliminate pests: Inspect plants for pests, and treat them before bringing them inside. For an organic option, wash the leaves (tops and bottoms) with Bonide Insecticidal Soap and a gentle blast of cool water from the hose to get rid of eggs, aphids, mites and spiders. Another easy alternative is to do the same but use Fertilome's Indoor/Outdoor Multi- purpose Insect Spray. Although it is not organic, it is safe enough to use on dogs to control fleas and ticks and kills a broader range of insects. You can even submerge the pots in a tub of water for half an hour or so to force out any creepy crawlies that might have burrowed into the soil.

Clean pots: Scrub the outsides of pots and drainage trays. Pay close attention to underneath the rim where hitchhikers like to hide.

Use warm days to transition gradually: To reduce shock, try to bring plants in before you start running your furnace - warm fall days are perfect for opening and cleaning windows (to let more sunlight in) and getting your plants settled inside. Spend about 2 weeks acclimating plants to the lower light and humidity levels indoors. Move them first to a shady spot outside, then start bringing them in just at night, then put them in the brightest window for a while before moving them to their winter spaces.

Shape up: When you bring your plants inside, you can cut them back slightly; this helps control size and encourages new growth that will be better adapted to life indoors. Remove any dead or diseased growth. Repot only if severely root bound, otherwise wait until spring. Fall is not the best time to repot unless a plant is desperate for more space. Most indoor plants slow their root and foliage growth over the winter. If you do repot, choose a container only one inch larger in diameter.

Quarantine: Overlooked insects and diseases can multiply rapidly indoors. Keep a close eye on your plants, and keep them away from other indoor plants until you're sure they're healthy.

Reduce watering: Reduce watering sometimes to half of what you would outside since your plants won't dry out as quickly as they did outside. Purchase and use a moisture meter if unsure as to when to water.

Lower feeding: Reduce fertilizing, and stop feeding completely when plants go dormant (stop putting out new growth). Resume fertilizing when you see new growth again in the spring.

Expect fallout: Don't be surprised if your plants probably drop a few leaves as they adjust to less light, and their growth slows or stops over winter.