Remember These 5 Tips When Bringing Houseplants Inside for Fall-Winter Period
If you allowed some potted houseplants to summer outdoors during the warmer months, then you’ll want to bring them indoors as cooler weather approaches. Most potted tropical plants won’t tolerate temperatures below 50°F, and having plants in a controlled climate will shield your plant from potential cold damage. But before you bring any outdoor plants into your indoor space, consider these 5 steps to ensure your plant adjusts properly— plus these measures will protect your other indoor plants and support health.
Time Your Plant's Journey Inside Around The Temperature
Around fall, temperatures can fluctuate vastly from week to week and even from day to night. And plants sense and respond to these drastic changes. When you’re planning to bring any potted plants inside for the winter, known as overwintering, the first step is making sure you get them in at the right time.
For the best success, try to bring the plant inside around the same time the outdoor daytime temperature gets to roughly the same daytime temperature in your home (or indoor space). So for most households, that will likely be when the temperatures start hovering around 65-75 degrees. With similar temperatures, the plant has less stress during the transition and reduced risk of leaf drop, or other transplant shock symptoms. Finding the right time and indoor location can be the most beneficial step to bringing the outside in.
When nighttime temperatures start reaching in the high 50s, this is the last chance to bring tropicals inside before any damage occurs. You absolutely do not want plants intended as "houseplants" to be exposed to temperatures below 50 as it can cause irreversible damage and eventual plant death.
Once you have an idea of when you’re going to bring your plants inside, you can start to prep the plant for its best indoor life.
Protect Your Plant From Bringing In Unwanted Pests
During fall, your houseplant is likely preparing for winter and a semi-dormant stage. Since this time of the year is the most inactive time for the majority of tropical indoor plants, that means the plant is also more vulnerable. And if your plant was outside for summer, then there’s a good chance a critter made its way onto your plant or in the soil at some point. So before you bring your plant inside, inspect it for any obvious signs of pests. If you find any, then treat right away. This way you know what kind of pest it is and can monitor for any signs of recurrence over the next 2-4 weeks.
Despite if you visibly see pests, you should still treat the plant for anything that got past the naked eye (or that’s lurking in the soil). We specifically recommend a soil drench and thoroughly spraying down the foliage. You can accomplish this with store bought products or by creating a DIY batch of warm water + castile soap + neem oil.
After the preventative pest measure, you can bring the plant inside the same day, but don’t introduce it to other plants yet.
Isolate Outsiders from Insiders
Protecting any of your plants that currently live indoors is an imperative step! That’s why it’s useful to isolate your plants that you’re bringing in from the outside. Keeping those plants away from the rest of your collection can reduce risk of potential pest spread (considering pests weren’t wiped out completely with step 2).
It’s best practice to place the plants in a separate room completely for about 2-3 weeks. If another room isn’t viable, then just place the outsiders as far away from the insiders as possible. Keep in mind that you still need to provide adequate light and water for each plant.
Once that isolation period is over, feel free to comingle plants—in fact it’s encouraged for health!
Find a Proper Location for Your Plant to Live Inside
Think about where your plant was located outside during summer, and specifically those light levels throughout the day. To set your plant up for an easy adjustment to the indoors and to support success throughout the winter, try to find a comparable spot inside. The shift of the sun in the sky will mean that the light will hit differently during summer and winter. Plus as the days get darker and colder, your plant will indefinitely be exposed to less sunlight. Taking these factors into account, try to find the best window for your particular plant to reside nearby. South-facing (considering no obstructions) will have the most intense light, followed by east and west which have morning and afternoon light respectively, and north-facing has the least amount of natural light.
Support Plant Needs During These Changes
Not only do the altering seasons affect plants, but the change in conditions from outdoors to indoors can be a mild challenge for plants. To best support your plant’s transitory period into winter, there are a few things you can do:
Accept that slight changes may occur, and that that’s just normal! If your plant loses a leaf, an older leaf yellows, or a similar mini adjustment presents, then don’t panic. In general, don’t be too concerned unless there’s an issue affecting the entire plant. Your plant, as a live being, is just adapting.
Amp up the humidity! Summer months typically correlate with higher levels of humidity-- which those tropical indoor plants love and is part of the reason we put them outside all summer! But when we bring them inside, they can be shocked by the lack of moisture in the air— especially as winter lacks natural humidity and indoor spaces use artificial heat which further zaps moisture. You can increase humidity by huddling the plants closer together and using a humidifier near plants.
Halt the extraness. Your plant needs light and water to survive and thrive. Fertilizer, repotting, and propagating are extra activities that plant parents do to support our precious plants. But since the plant is extra vulnerable during colder months, put the extra on pause for now! The plant simply doesn’t need or want any of that as growth and energy slows.
Having a warm, cozy place to overwinter sets the plant up for optimal conditions as the plant wants to rest up during cold months. As a plant parent, supporting plants with these effective steps can best set the plant up for a positive, healthy changeover. And when spring rolls around, the plant will be ready to emerge and slowly make the trek back outside for summer vacation once again!