As the gardening season winds down, and cooler temps are fast approaching, it's important to begin thinking about overwintering some of your garden plants. Many plants will handle the cold winter conditions -- if they are rated for your growing zone -- but some will prosper by being brought indoors for protection. And if you've moved your indoor houseplants outside for the summer, they need to be brought back in as well.
Transitioning plants indoors for the winter isn't as simple as just picking them up and moving them inside. The following tips will help minimize shock and make the move go smoothly.
1. Begin when nighttime temps dip to 50℉
Plants should be moved inside before temperatures drop to a point that it causes damage to foliage and/or roots. Most plants can handle temps down into the mid to low 50's, but should be completely inside before it gets colder than that at night.
2. Check for pests
The first, and one of the most important steps to moving them indoors is to thoroughtly check every container or plant for inside pests, snails, slugs, etc. The last thing you want to do is treat an infestation in your home. If you do find pests, BioAdvanced explains how to get rid of both leaf-dwelling and soil-dwelling insects.
3. Repot if needed
This is the perfect time to move plants to larger containers if they have out grown their current pot. Make sure to move up to an appropriate sized container, not putting them in something more than 20% bigger.
4. Prune overgrowth
If you are repotting plants, this is also a great time to prune them back into shape and open up the middle of the plant for good air movement.
5. Clean windows well
While it may sound silly, take the time to clean the windows inside your home where you are moving plants. It's important they have acess to as much light as possible. Dirty windows, and shorter daylengths in the winter will put plants at a disadvantage.
6. Acclimate to lower light
Gradually expose your plants to the decreased lighting within your home to prevent shock. Start by bringing them inside at night, and then slowly increase the time they spend indoors until they are inside fulltime.
7. Avoid drafts
Doesn't matter if it's cold air from leaky windows or doors, or warm air from register vents, position plants away from drafts. This drastic change in temperature puts undue stress on plants and can cause damage, especially leaf burn on the tips and margins of foliage.
8. Cut down on watering
Plant growth will slow down slightly during the cooler, winter months. In turn, plants will respire less and need less water. To keep roots from being too wet, cut down on the amount of water applied and the frequency.
9. Provide a boost of fertilizer
If plants weren't repotted using potting mix with added fertilizer, give them a feeding just as you bring them inside. They will grow more quickly than if they were left outside, but growth will slow naturally over the winter. There's no need to feed them again for 2-3 months.
10. Take cuttings
This is the perfect time to propagate new cuttings from your existing plants. Following the instructions over at Planet Natural, you can start cuttings in containers inside over the winter and move them outside with your other plants when the weather warms in the spring.