Along the Garden Path: Bringing plants indoors for the winter


The cooler season has arrived in Ohio where the bright sunny days turn to cool breezy nights. Our landscape is beginning to change into vivid hues of the fall colors of yellow, orange, red and purple. The different varieties of pumpkins are appearing at the markets making us think that fall has officially arrived.

There is plenty to do in the garden; harvesting, planting bulbs, and especially fall cleanup. We now take the time to bring our tropical plants and tender houseplants indoors so they survive the winter.

When temperatures get down to around 45 – 50 degrees, you start to worry about frost. It’s best to bring the plants into the garage so they can be protected and to slow down their growth.

Let them acclimate to the temperatures before bringing into the house.

The first thing is to clean the windows for sun exposure indoors. One of the most common issues houseplants have when coming indoors is bringing unwanted pests with them. Check the houseplants thoroughly for small insects like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites and remove them. These pests can hitchhike on the plants you bring in and infest all of your houseplants. You may even want to use the hose to wash off your houseplants before bringing them in. This will help knock off any pests that you may have missed. Make sure you remove any infested, dead or damaged plant material and lightly prune to shape the plants to a manageable size if necessary.

Just for precautions, we give our plants a quick spray of homemade insecticidal soap to help get rid of any insects that might stick to the leaves or living in the soil. Homemade insecticidal soap requires only three ingredients: Dawn dish soap, vegetable oil and soft water. Mix 2.5 teaspoons of the Dawn dish soap and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil with 1 gallon of warm soft water. The Dawn soap used in the recipe must not contain bleach, which can harm the plants. Furthermore, you should always use soft water while diluting pesticides. Hard water contains minerals, which interfere with the insecticidal soap, reducing its effectiveness.

Plants that are indoors will not need as much water as plants that are outdoors, so only water when the soil is dry to the touch. There is no need to fertilize your tropical plants until spring unless you are trying to maintain a heavy feeding for flowering plants like African Violet. Other tropical’s like Mandevilla and Hibiscus perform better next year if well rested with no fertilizer until spring.

Tropical’s and houseplants make a home a little cozier when you bring the outdoors indoors.

By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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