It is time to bring your houseplants that spent the summer outside back inside. If you do not get your plants in before it frosts you can cover them with old sheets or blankets. Make sure your plants are well watered before covering them. This will increase the humidity around the plants keeping them warmer and reducing stress. Try not to let the material that you are using to cover the plants touch the plants. This can transfer the cold from the material onto the plant.
Decide which plants you will bring inside. If the plant was struggling outside, it probably won’t survive the stress of coming inside. Check the plant, pot and potting mix for webbing, insects, eggs, nest, and disease. Insects on the plants can be removed with a strong spray from the hose, insecticidal soap or by hand. Insects in the soil can be removed by soaking the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Any pests in the soil will come to the surface looking for air. Clean the outside of the pots to make sure there is nothing hiding there also. Wipe off the leaves of big-leaved plants such as rubber plant so they will be able to absorb as much light as possible once inside. Repot if necessary and give the plants a trim if they need it.
Before you bring in your plants think about where you will place them. If you need to set up tables or shelves now is the time to do it. Make sure your plants will be kept away from cold air drafts and heat vents. Cleaning the windows will help the plants absorb as much sunshine as possible. Signs of too little light include small leaves, weak or spindly growth, poor flowering, bud drop, or leaf loss. Variegated plants will revert to a solid color. Signs of too much light include leaves that curl at the tip, leaves that develop yellow or brown blotches, and that leaves fade to a lighter color or develoope sunburn, turn brown and die.
The artificially-heated indoor environment of our homes is much different from the outdoor environment your plants have been use to. Sudden changes in light, temperature and humidity can be traumatic for the plant resulting in yellow leaves, dropped flowers, wilting, die back and even death. A healthy plant will adjust to the reduced light and new leaves will form.
Your plants will enter a dormant period once they are inside and will need less water and no fertilization. Feel the soil to see if it is dry before you water your plants. Signs of overwatering are yellowing of leaves, dropped buds, fungus gnats, root rot and algae growth. Since your plants are entering a dormant period you should stop fertilizing. You can start fertilizing again around March when the plants start to grow again.
Every time you water your plants check how your plants are doing. Are there bugs, wilting leaves or other things you don’t expect to see? Check out extension.umn.edu/find-plants/houseplants for help diagnosing what is wrong with your plant or call the Chisago County Master Gardeners at 651- 277-0151 and leave a message. We will be glad to help you.