8 Things to Remember When Bringing Houseplants Inside for Winter
One of my followers asked me for some tips on how to make her patio tropicals stay happy after she brings them indoors for the winter. My recommendation would be to:
1. Slowly reacclimate your plant to your indoor environment at least 2 weeks prior to bringing them in. 2. Start bringing them in at night to begin with.
3. Also, you should plan not to leave it outside at night if temps drop below 60 degrees F.
4. Avoiding the stress of cold temps is the best way to give your patio tropical a head start for happy house living for the winter.
5. Be sure to remove any bugs or pests by cleaning or spraying the plant, or physically pruning away leaves and stems with bugs on them.
6. Lastly, be sure to repot the plant to give it a fresh start with some new soil full of nutrients for the long winter ahead.
7. Once it’s in and acclimated to your house, be sure to feed it at least once or twice a month,
8. and when you water, be sure that you water until the water has drained out of the bottom of the pot and the plant feels heavy like the soil is completely saturated.
Some simple House Plant Care guidelines:
How often should I water?
Here is the rule of thumb I use: plants with thick,tough, juicy leaves and a waxy covering don’t need as much water…allow them to dry out completely between waterings. For example, an Aloe Vera plant really only needs to be watered about once or twice a month, depending on how hot and dry the room is that you keep it in. Plants with very thin, non juicy, non waxy leaves, need to be watered about once a week.
How often should I fertilize?
For most houseplants, if using a liquid fertilizer, you should fertilize at least once a month. If you are not one who remembers these sorts of things, you can incorporate a slow release fertilizer into your potting mix, or put some slow release fertilizer sticks into the soil, and then you will be good for about 3 months!
How often should I repot my houseplants?
Once a year is a good rule of thumb.
It’s always a good idea for house plants is to have a light, soil that has good drainage. Good ingredients to find in it would be fir bark, perlite, milled peat moss, a little charcoal, and possibly a slow release fertilizer, so you can get by without having to remember to fertilize for a few months. Of course, you can get really specific on your potting mix recipe depending on the type of plant you are growing. Just remember, the less water a plant needs, the lighter the potting soil(lighter meaning increased drainage and dries out quickly)
Always just repot into the next size up which is usually an increase in 1 or 2 inches in diameter. Repotting is a good thing to do if you had your plant outside all summer, to get rid of any bugs that might have made a nest in the pot.
How deep do I plant my houseplants when repotting?
Always make sure that the new soil does not bury the top of the old soil of the rootball, to avoid rotting out the main stem of the plant.
What kind of soil or growing media should I use?
This is a toughy, but to simplify, you can go to your local garden center, and find a bag of potting mix specific to what you are repotting…for example, you can buy cacti and succulent potting mix, african violet potting mix, orchid bark, general tropical plant potting mix, and so on.
What are some unique, but easy to grow houseplants?
My favorites are the ones that look cool, don’t need lots of light, and don’t need lots of water. Yes, they do exist! I love pepperomias, sanseverias, aglaeonemas, and hoyas for tropical house plants.
One thing I do recommend before you do before you prune your houseplants, would be to invest in a decent pair of pruners. I have been using Felco pruners for more than 20 years, in fact, I still have some that are at least 15 years old! I like them because they are well made, the springs and blades are replaceable, and they even make a pair for lefties like me! Pictured here are the Felco# 9 for left handers. If you are a righty, you would go with the Felco#2 pruner.
These are the Felco #2 pruners for right handed gardeners. My husband is also a professional horticulturist and has used this model for more than 20 years!
How do I winterize my patio tropicals?
Before bringing them in for the season, ideally, you should repot and spray them with a mild insecticidal soap.
If you don’t want to mess with spraying, you could just grab an old pair of panty hose, wadd them up into a ball, and dunk them into some warm soapy water. Gently scrub the upper and undersides of the leaves to physically remove any little mites or other critters and their eggs. Trouble with this is, that you might not get them off the stems. Give them a good shower with your water wand. If your plant does show any signs of a bug problem prior to bringing it in, you could spray it once or twice at intervals recommended on the instructions of the spray bottle, to be sure you got rid of all the life stages of the bugs. Pruning the plant back is another way to physically remove those problem bugs.