Bringing Houseplants Indoors

By Ophi Hodgman

For those of us living in New England, we can collectively agree that the warm months are the most enjoyable and highly anticipated during the long, winter months. To those of us that are also plant parents, we want to give our plants time to enjoy the warm cycle of the year, as well!

Many houseplants thrive during the long, bright summer days, especially when properly moved outdoors. However, these plants may have some trouble readjusting to indoor conditions when colder weather starts to creep back in.

Read ahead for more tips on reintroducing your plants indoors as the colder months approach!

Transitioning Indoors

Many of our common houseplants and those found in nurseries are native to tropical or subtropical climates and cannot tolerate sudden changes in temperature. A good time to start moving your plants indoors is before outdoor temperatures drop to 55° Fahrenheit.

If you have let your plants live outside for the entire warm season, transitioning them back inside before summer's end is highly recommended. Begin by bringing your plants inside at night a few times a week, working your way up to every night, then a few times during the day until they are living inside full time. This will help reduce shock as the season transitions to autumn.

Leaf Drop

When a plant is moved from an environment similar to their natural habitats to in-home conditions, there is bound to be some physiological changes, including a reduction in growth and leaf drop.

Many plants will drop leaves in response to lower light conditions and temperature inside the home. By gradually transitioning a plant back into the home, as mentioned above, this can reduce symptoms of shock. In many cases, this stage is unavoidable and your plant will put out new growth as they adjust to your home conditions again. The assistance of a grow light is recommended if you want your plant to continue growing in the off-season.

Checking for Insects

Before reintroducing your plant to possible other plants in the home, it is highly suggested to take a look at the foliage and roots for any insect infestations. You don't want to accidentally introduce a queen ant and her colony into your home. (The author can attest. It is not fun!)

Be sure to inspect the foliage and soil closely for signs or symptoms of an attack. Insects, such as spider mites and aphids are very prolific and may increase their population rapidly once they are brought indoors. These pests will also spread to other plants very quickly.

A sharp and thorough spray from the garden hose will reduce the chance of pests making their way indoors from houseplant foliage. Captain Jack's Neem Oil and insecticidal soaps also work well, particularly on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, spider mites, thrips and mealy bugs. Weekly treatments may be necessary to be sure that the pests are taken care of.

Refreshing the soil by doing a quick repot may also help with any residual infestations, along with adding a Houseplant Systemic to reduce the chance of any insect eggs that may have been laid on the roots.

Reducing Fertilizers

Plants will slow down their growth considerably in the off-season, so less water and fertilizer will be needed. The best moisture meter is your finger. For most houseplants, you should allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Reduce your fertilizer applications or discontinue if plants seem to be in a resting period.