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Acclimating Plants for Winter Indoors


Before bringing plants indoors for the winter, give them a few weeks of tender loving care

When nighttime temperatures begin to dip below 50 degrees, it is long past time to start preparing those plants for the change from outside to indoors. In fact, the last weeks in September are ideal times to begin the acclimation period.

Whether your plants are in pots or you are planning to dig them up for overwintering, the process is basically the same. Because they have been residing outdoors for the summer, you can assume there may be some insect activity. These can be small infestations on the leaves and stems or may be soil habitation.

Begin by checking the plant leaves - both over and under - for signs of activity. Start immediately with insecticidal soap and inspect every few days.

Sun exposure will be limited compared to the great outdoors, even if you are moving plants to a bright, sunny window. Move your container plants into a shady spot for longer periods each week during the acclimation process. This will prevent some "culture shock." If you are digging up plants, place them in a comfortably sized container and give them the same shade/sun treatment.

Ants and slugs are major soil dwellers and you'll want to give the dirt a good leaching, which will help. While you don't want your plants to sit in a soggy pot, you should thoroughly flush the soil and allow to drain.

Pinch back plants and, if repotting, remove the least healthy sections and discard. In fact, any plant that is not looking its best may suffer greatly - or die - with a location change. Some experts say it is simply not worth the effort to make the transition for poor performers. While you can treat for insects, plant diseases cannot be cured - do not take the chance of infecting healthy indoor plants. Remove all diseased greenery and practice prevention next time.

Once indoors, you will need to treat those plants a little differently. Give them some quarantine space, if possible, just in case a few bugs catch a right inside.

While you may have been watering on every day, especially during the hottest months, plants don't need quite as much attention indoors. Allow the soil to dry out a little and test with your fingers rather than going by calendar days. If the soil is dry one or two inches down, water lightly. Humidity, on the other hand, should be tended to and some plant species will appreciate a light misting.

The trauma of climate change may inevitably cause some yellowing or leaf drop. This should not be cause for great concern; new growth will soon replace the old.


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