Bringing in your Plants for Winter

Tom Holm, Greenhouse Manager

September 2018

It is time to get ready for fall and the cooler temperatures that go along with it.  Part of that is bringing in the plants you want to save over winter.  You should bring them in when night temperatures are regularly in the 45-50 degree range.  Tropical plants are especially tender and can suffer damage even at 40 degrees. 

It is important to remember when we bring plants inside they are going to rest and should not be pushed for lush growth.  Avoid heavy cutting back and fertilizing as that will promote new growth.  However, be sure to remove diseased, dead, old or broken stems. 

It is also important to check and clean pots and plants outside as you don’t want to bring in unwanted hitchhikers.  Though insects are the usual problem, one friend of ours ended up with a toad hopping around her house after bringing in her potted plants!  The toad was easy to catch and replace outside, but there are several different things you can do to debug.  One, you can put your plant into a large plastic bag, spray with an insecticide, and close the bag for several hours.  Then, you can apply a systemic insecticide to the soil to kill any bad bugs hiding there.  Second, you can wash the leaves or foliage with insecticidal soap or a mixture of mild dish soap and water.  Third, you can also soak the pot and plant in a mild dish soap and water mixture.  Clean off old and dead leaves, let drip dry and drain outside, and then bring in when all have dried down. 

Decide where your plants will be located in the house.  Try to avoid contact with pets. The plants will be going through a huge change in light and humidity so be sure to avoid heat ducts and drafts as that will only make the problem worse.  You can acclimate the plants by bringing them in and out for two weeks.  There will likely always be some leaves that yellow and drop as the plants get used to their new location.  Be very careful with the watering as the plants will require less water due to their growth is slowing down with the shorter day length. 

Bringing the plants indoors adds beauty and color to the long cold winter and rewards you with nice plants to set back outside next spring!