As we get deeper into autumn, the nights are getting cooler, while the days continue to be warm. This is ideal weather for planting trees and shrubs but will soon be too cold for those tender houseplants that have been vacationing on your deck or patio all summer.
The first step for your houseplant migration back indoors is to prepare the space for them. The odds are that the space these plants vacated last spring is already repurposed, either with other plants or something else. Consequently, there may be some rearranging needed before your plants can be returned to their favorite spot.
Your houseplant transition doesn’t have to take place all at once. Base the move on forecast overnight lows nearing each plant’s cold tolerance level. They should all be back indoors when the first hard frost warning is issued.
Be sure the plants are clean before moving them inside. Remove weeds that may have taken up residence in their container. Also guard against taking insects indoors where they can infest your healthy plants. If you can see insect activity, such as eggs, chewed leaves or the insects themselves, pick off what’s visible and hose off others. If no insects or insect activity is visible, take the precautionary step of shaking the plant and then submerging the container in water to drown any insects in the soil or on the soil surface as a result of your shaking them.
Quarantining the plants for a day or two before taking them into the house would be a good idea if you’re able to. You need a place in which they can get sufficient sunlight during the day and not freeze at night. Suggestions include a garage or outbuilding with enough windows to allow photosynthesis to continue or a glassed in, unheated sunroom. This quarantine will allow the plants to adjust to an inside environment gradually. It’ll also give their soil an opportunity to dry out from their dunking, and you can check for any lingering insects. Don’t forget to water these plants if they need it. When you take the plants indoors, base your watering regimen on the humidity in the house. There’s no rain to supplement your watering. It’s all up to you to quench their thirst.
While in quarantine, check your plants to see if they’ve gained weight on their summer vacation. Those whose crowns are substantially larger than when you put them outside can be pruned before going into the house. Otherwise, they may not fit the space you have planned for them. Using pruning shears or sharp kitchen scissors remove up to half the foliage, if necessary. One third is even better. If you can identify new growth, you can prune off only that foliage and it’ll look just like it did when you took it outside. Regardless of how much you prune your plants, try to maintain their natural shape.
I’m sure you enjoyed your houseplant gracing your deck or patio all season. But now it’s time to bring them back to their natural environment. There’s a reason why they’re called houseplants; the house is their natural environment. These easy steps will make the transition good for the plants and for you.