Bringing in Houseplants

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For gardeners like me, it’s tough to think about the Fall ritual of bringing in houseplants from outdoors because it is an acknowledgement that winter is coming. On the other hand, the houseplants are gorgeous right now and having them inside this winter will be cheering.

So here are some things to keep in mind as you begin the transition.  First, don’t wait too long before bringing the plants indoors.  Most houseplants have a tropical origin so night time temps in the 40’s is freezing for them. Instead, aim for night time temps in the 50’s to start the process.

Check the plant for critters.  Spiders aren’t a big deal, unless you’re afraid of spiders, but the fact they are there can indicate the presence of things feeding on your houseplants. Grasshoppers, crickets, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and blister beetles can be drowned with a quick rinse-down with water.  Washing down the outside of the pot and the catch dish is a good idea too.  Do this 2-3 times over several days before you bring the plants in.

Now is the time to think about pruning back the plants, especially if they are huge.  Hibiscus, mandevilla, philodendron and begonia can be cut back to a manageable size.  Root the cuttings to make more plants and share them with your friends. Even if the plants don’t need to be cut back, be sure to remove spent blossoms and diseased leaves and any broken stems.

Put your houseplants in the brightest window in the house.  Keep in mind that even your best window is still only 50% of the amount of the light they were getting outdoors, so some leaf drop will occur.  When you see this happening, do not respond by fertilizing, which can lead to leaf burn and more leaf loss.  Unless houseplants are put under grow lights, they really don’t need any fertilization until next March.

Happy Fall!

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