Wintering Over - Indoors

Bringing plants indoors for the winter

When the nighttime temperatures no longer hint of summer, but rather the crispness of fall, it's time to bring certain plants indoors. Which plants? All houseplants summering outdoors should be moved in, as well as any tender perennials, such as fuschias or geraniums (pelargoniums), or annual cuttings, such as coleus, that you'd like to keep over the winter.

Around September or October, depending on where you live, you should start moving them into your house or other sheltered area; they should all be inside by first frost. Plants left outside may have acquired some bugs, so before you bring them indoors, spray water on the leaves--the undersides as well as the topsides--to remove all insects. Repotting can also greatly reduce the number of resident bugs, as can submerging the pot in water.

Dont be worried if your plants seem a little stressed and drop their leaves or flowers after you move them inside. Many plants go into a state of dormancy over the winter. Keep them in an area where the temperature stays relatively constant, and mist them regularly, or set them on a tray of gravel and water to increase the humidity if your house gets very dry in the winter.

The best strategy for keeping them happy is to pretend that the goal is to just barely keep them alive. Reduce your plants' watering and fertilizing schedule once inside. Now that they're not exposed to the sun and drying winds, they'll need less.

By moving your plants indoors during the colder months, you'll not only extend their life, but you'll create an indoor winter garden for yourself.