Bringing plants indoors

Thu. Oct. 4, 2018

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Bringing plants indoors

Some crisp Fall air has lifted the humidity that makes my hair frizz and it feels good!  For those who’ve had tropical plants outside it’s time to start preparing to bring them indoors.  Some have already had to as temperatures dipped into the 30’s for northern zones and you’ve had SNOW!  Well, some flakes anyway…

If it’s just one day of cold, consider a cloth or inside a shed or garage.  The general rule of thumb is to bring those indoor plants inside when temperatures are consistently hanging in the 50’s.

See if you can spot the 2 things that might become an issue for this tropical plant – elephant ear

Preparing your plants for the move is the first step.  First, don’t even bother with those that are struggling… let them go to the great compost in your garden bed.  Unless they’re diseased then it’s the garbage bin.

use mild soapy water

Check for critters hiding in the potting medium.  The most effective way to do this is by soaking the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Any unwanted pests will scramble to the surface in search of air.


For houseplants in large containers, where slipping the plant from the pot or dunking the entire pot in water is impractical, apply an insecticide to the soil surface and also to soil inside drainage holes. Apply enough insecticide to soak the soil, and you’ll kill pests or cause them to exit. If pests were present in soil by climbing through pot drainage holes, consider repotting the plant next spring and placing wire mesh or hardware cloth inside the base of the pot to exclude insects.

Bringing your plants indoors from the University of Vermont

Depending on what, if anything, comes out of the pot, you might want to repot the plant — especially if there is an active ant colony. (Ants will leave eggs behind that will hatch.)

If you repot, spray the potting medium off the roots, clean the inside of the container with a 10% bleach solution and thoroughly rinse.  If the roots fill the pot, use a size larger one.  Finally, check the foliage for dead or yellowing leaves, remove as needed and prune if shaping is required.

I love ferns but not indoors… so messy

For additional protection you can spray the foliage with an insecticidal soap. I’ll have all of this on my website gardenbite dot com.

Be sure to know where your plant will be placed indoors and make sure the conditions are appropriate.  Right plant, right place holds indoors as well as out!  Consider heat vents and drafts too.

In the photo above of the elephant ear, the plant is near a heat register and a window!  Now… this could be an issue, but I’m going to wait and see.  I’ll move it if I need to.