The first step in successfully overwintering plants indoors is selecting the correct kind of plant. Contrary to common assumption, not all plants can live (or, at the very least, not all plants can thrive) under indoor growing conditions, particularly if your home has insufficient light, temperature, or humidity. Since there are probably fewer sunny spots inside your home than outside, you’ll need to decide which plants are worth preserving for the season and whether you can provide them with the care they need within.
While it may be appealing, it is not possible to bring all outside plants home for the winter. Before choosing which plants to bring indoors, go through the following checklist and bring the ones that adhere to the requirements.
- only maintain healthy plants. Even in ideal circumstances, a plant that has been struggling all summer is unlikely to thrive indoors. It’s time to accept reality and consign it to the plant cemetery for eternal rest (also known as the compost bin or trash).
- You should never bring a sick or pest-infested plant indoors. Even if you take great care to quarantine the problematic plant until it is nursed back to health, there is no guarantee that you won’t transfer the problem to your other plants. Problems spread more quickly among indoor plants than in the outdoor garden. The absence of natural insect predators in the home also creates the perfect environment for infestations to take place. Before bringing any plants indoors, give them a thorough inspection for any signs of issues.
- Your favorite plants should come first. Give preference to any varieties that you have already put a lot of time and effort into, such as the ferns you’ve been nurturing for years, anything you’ve trained into a standard, and sentimental favorites when choosing which plants to bring indoors for the season (assuming you have limited space). Of course, if you have the space, costly indulgences are also worthwhile.
- Bring the plant inside if it would look fine there. A variety of blooming plants, including geraniums, fuchsias, begonias, and even passion flowers, may be grown successfully in many homes and blossom wonderfully indoors. Even while they might not appear as rich or vivid as they would in the natural environment, it’s still pleasant to have flowers blossoming in the winter. In the spring, the plants will be ready to begin blooming in their natural habitat once more.
- Think about giving particular foods, like baby pepper or tomato plants, top priority. They are essentially tropical perennials, and if they get enough sunlight, they’ll keep producing fruit all winter long. You’ll succeed producing small patio types because some vegetable varieties might require a very huge pot. The easiest and highest yielding vegetables to grow are cherry tomatoes and small-fruited peppers like chilies. Remember that there are no insects or pleasant breezes inside, so you will need to manually pollinate your plants.
Can I bring indoor plants from the outside?
It’s time to bring many of your outdoor plants inside when frost is forecast. Only indoors will many delicate annuals, bulbs, herbs, and tropical plants make it through the winter. Here are some tips on which plants to bring indoors this fall and how to prepare potted plants for the winter.
When to Bring Plants Inside
True annuals and plants that we cultivate as annuals (which are regarded as sensitive perennials in southern regions) are unable to withstand the chilly winter months. But you don’t have to say goodbye to these plants forever! Even delicate plants that require a winter dormant period can be brought inside as “annuals” in many cases. Ideally, these should be brought inside before the temperature drops below 45 degrees at night (7C). Start bringing the plants inside for the winter when October approaches and nighttime lows dip approximately 50F (10C).
At temperatures below 40F (4C), and for some tropical plants even below 50, harm is likely to occur. To acclimatize them, you must take action well before any actual frost or ice.
Where to Put Plants
I still struggle to find space for everything, despite the fact that the greenhouse we have attached to the house receives plenty of sunlight and never gets colder than 45F. For my benefit, a lot of these plants would experience a dry season in their natural habitat and don’t mind resting under a bench. Particularly when the pots are large, the greenhouse quickly fills up.
Consider making a shelf or area where you may put plants that require high humidity together if you don’t have a greenhouse but have a lot of them. While some people mist their indoor plants, this only has a temporary beneficial effect. Putting a pebble tray under your plants is a better long-term solution. After adding a layer of gravel and lining the trays with waterproof material, add the pots on top. Do not dry out the gravel. You might wish to attach some ceiling hooks if you have hanging plants. Cleaning your windows both inside and outside will help guarantee that plants receive enough light throughout winter.
Which Plants To Bring Inside
You might need to decide what should be brought inside and what should be kept outside. Which flora stand out to you? Which ones cost the most to replace? Additionally, only keep healthy plants; throw away those that have disease or pest issues. Additionally, the lighting in your home is crucial. Even a west or south facing glassed area in winter only has the summer shaded area’s winter light intensity.
Plants that can be carried indoors can be divided into two categories:
- plants that need a time of winter hibernation.
- plants that can continue to thrive while dormant during the winter.
Some delicate bulbs need to spend some time “dormant” in a chilly environment where the temperature is still far above freezing. Numerous of these pricey bulbs are worth overwintering. Tender bulbs include, for instance:
- A calla lily
- Animal ears
- tubes of roses
Simply stop watering fragile bulbs in pots, remove the withering leaves, and tuck them away in a dark, cool place. Periodically check the soil moisture.
Dig up and trim back the leaves of fragile underground bulbs. By hand, remove as much dirt as you can from the bulb. For 7 to 14 days, leave them in a warm, dry location to dry. This gets rid of extra moisture. Separate them with shredded newspaper or dry peat moss and place them loosely in a cardboard box or open container. Get cozy somewhere chilly and gloomy. To get a head start on the season, pot them up in the spring about a month before you intend to set them outside.
How are outdoor plants prepared for indoor use?
- your plants in water. Put your plants, planter and all, in a bucket with a solution of insecticidal soap and water (1 tsp of soap per liter of water, or follow the instructions on the container) for around 15-20 minutes. This method of de-bugging plants also has the added benefit of providing plants with a thorough watering. To keep your plants clean when you pull them out, skim debris off the surface of the water while they are submerged beneath you. Take them out, rinse them out, and thoroughly clean the planter once they have finished soaking. Before bringing them inside, spread out some towels and let them absorb any extra moisture. Before watering them once more, make sure the soil is fully dry.
Since your plants will receive far more light outside than they will indoors, it’s crucial to gradually acclimate your houseplants to lower light levels in order to prevent transplant shock.
- Your plants need to adjust. Start by relocating your plants to more and more shady settings each day over the course of a few days, and then bring them indoors. The more time you give them, the better; somewhere between 5 days and 2 weeks is advised. After being relocated, they could drop a few leaves at first, but they’ll quickly get used to their new surroundings!
- Trim a little bit. You may foster new growth that will be more adapted to life inside by pruning your plants when you move them inside. This will also assist limit their size.
- The period is ideal for re-potting. If you discover that one of your houseplants is rootbound while de-bugging it, this is an excellent moment to upgrade it to a new container. Or, you might need to pot a plant for the first time if you’re trying to bring one in that was previously planted outside. In that scenario, remove the garden soil from the roots and entirely replace it with potting soil. Find out more by reading our repotting guide!
- Hold them apart. You may want to keep your plants separate from any other houseplants you may have for a few weeks after bringing them inside so you have time to monitor and ensure your de-bugging efforts were successful. It’s simpler to treat just your recently relocated plants rather than all of them if you missed any pests.
Once your plants are secure inside, keep in mind that the manner you take care of them will alter depending on the season. Consider plants in the winter as being on the verge of hibernation since their growth will be drastically slowed down due to reduced light and less thirst. Additionally, you typically won’t need to fertilize! Before watering, make sure the soil is at least two down and dry to the touch. For more details, read our watering essentials guide and our watering in the Wally Eco guide.
Your plant babies are now indoors for the winter, where you may enjoy their leaves and preserve them for the next year.
Can you maintain an annual plant inside?
Many true annual plants are capable of indoor cultivation. Some varieties of herbs are among the most well-liked annual plants. Dill, basil, and cilantro are a few examples. Numerous smaller flowers, such as impatiens and annual begonias, can also be cultivated indoors in containers. Nasturtium and other outdoor plants that are typically cultivated as annuals can also be grown indoors all winter long.
While a comprehensive list of annual indoor flowers may be hard to come by, gardeners are frequently taken aback by the adaptability of these plants. Temperature, day length, and the requirement for additional illumination are all important factors to take into account while growing annuals inside.
What degree should I set my potted plants when I bring them inside?
Depending on the type of plant, you should decide when to bring it inside. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many common flowering container plants (such as begonias and hibiscus) are truly tropical natives and dislike chilly nights. A chill can significantly slow down an organism’s growth, even if it doesn’t kill them.
When nighttime temperatures begin to fall below 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is preferable to bring indoor plants (12-15 C.). Look for pests that may be hiding in the soil of container plants before bringing them indoors. For 15 minutes, immerse each pot in warm water to force any insects or slugs to the surface. If you notice a lot of activity, spray your plant with an insecticide and repot it.
This is also an excellent time to repot any of your plants that are outgrowing their containers.
The plants that require the most light should be placed in windows that face south or under grow lights when you bring them inside. Plants that require less light can be placed in windows that face east or west. The light will probably be dimmer than it was outdoors no matter where they go. This shock may cause some leaves to turn yellow and fall. But after it adjusts to the new light level, your plant ought to produce fresh, wholesome leaves.
Water your plants less frequently than you did when they were outdoors so that less of it evaporates. On the other hand, the air inside your home is probably less humid. This issue should be resolved by setting your pot on a dish on a layer of gravel that is maintained consistently moist. Simply watch out that the water level in the gravel doesn’t rise above the level of the container or you run the risk of root rot.
How should outside potted plants be cared for during the winter?
You might need to give your pots additional protection depending on where you reside. The following are a few choices for overwintering containers:
- Put many pots next to the house or wall on the ground. Put the cold-hardiest plants outside the grouping, and the weaker ones in the middle. Place straw bales around the outside. Putting them together improves the insulation’s mass and volume, shielding them from chilly breezes that could cause freezing and desiccation.
- Mulch pots with straw, mulch, or chopped leaves for further insulation. Snow is a wonderful insulator as well. Grouping pots in a premade pond liner and filling it with mulch is an intriguing concept for insulating containers.
- The only insulation for roots is the wall of the pot itself because the majority of roots usually tend to be on the exterior of the rootball. To insulate roots, place foam along the walls of square pots that is at least an inch thick before planting. Fill the internal walls of rounded pots with foam peanuts.
- Fill the container up with soil and bury the pots there.
- Plant the rootball in the ground after removing it from the container. Clean the container, then keep it inside. Next year, remove the root ball and repot it in the same or a bigger container.
- Burlap, bubble wrap, old blankets, or geotextile blankets can all be used to wrap pots. Since the roots require protection, the entire plant doesn’t need to be covered. The root zone will retain heat thanks to the support of these protective covers.
- Cover plants at night with cloth, burlap, or plastic if low temperatures are anticipated. If you use plastic, make sure to take it off during the day because the heat can hasten the growth of the buds. Additionally, when covering, take care not to harm the plants’ tops. Plant damage from the cold and pests is facilitated by injury.
- To offer further security, place your pot inside of a larger pot. The bigger pot should have extra insulation or sturdy walls for this to work optimally.
Hard freezes may be unusual to nonexistent in USDA Zones 7 through 11, therefore it may not be essential to add insulation or move pots indoors for the winter. There are several tasks, nevertheless, that you should still be mindful of. Plant development will stall in the winter because of the lower temperatures, and watering may become less regular. However, salt can accumulate in the soil and increase toxicity levels. Leach the salts out with water. As required, fertilize plants as well.