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GardenSMART :: Bringing Your Houseplants Indoors For Winter

Bringing Your Houseplants Indoors For Winter

By Pennington
Photograph courtesy of Pennington

If your houseplants have spent the summer outdoors, now is the time to end their vacation and move them back inside. Bringing tender tropical and subtropical houseplants back indoors once outside nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit protects them from chilling injury and death, and allows you to enjoy them throughout the fall and winter months.

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Follow these five steps to successfully transition your houseplants indoors this fall:

  1. Prepare Your Indoor Growing Area
  2. Inspect Your Houseplants
  3. Treat Existing Pests
  4. Acclimate Your Houseplants
  5. Maintain Your Indoor Garden

1. Prepare Your Indoor Growing Area

Maintaining healthy plants indoors requires that you provide them with ideal growing conditions. Prior to transitioning your houseplants, ensure that they will receive adequate light by cleaning nearby windows. If conditions are too dim, invest in full-spectrum bulbs, which come in various sizes and can be used in standard light fixtures. Also stock up on the tools and supplies you'll need during the winter months, such as pruners, containers, potting soil, stakes and ties, a watering can and fertilizer.

2. Inspect Your Houseplants

Before you transition your houseplants indoors, inspect them for signs of pests. When troublemakers, such as mealy bugs, enter a warm, protected indoor environment, they multiply rapidly and can quickly devour your indoor garden.

To perform a thorough pest inspection of your houseplants, use a magnifying glass to look closely at the top and bottom of foliage, and between the whorls of leaves that are just beginning to unfurl. Also check the soil surface.

3. Treat Existing Pests

If you detect pests, treat the plants while they're still outdoors. Wash the pests off with a strong spray of water, and then spray all of the plant parts and the soil surface with Worry Free® Brand Insecticide and Miticide Concentrate. Let the foliage dry, and then re-spray the plants with water. Wait seven days before repeating the treatment.

Even if you don't see any active pests on your houseplants, it's best to wash and spray them with Worry Free® Brand Insecticide and Miticide Concentrate as a preventative measure. Once your houseplants are indoors, check them every two weeks for pests that might have returned.

4. Acclimate Your Houseplants

Your indoor environment differs from the outdoors, especially in terms of light. To prevent transplant shock, slowly acclimate your houseplants to lower light conditions while they're still outdoors. Over five days, reduce the amount of light they receive by moving them to progressively more shaded locations outdoors each day. Once you move them indoors, plants may experience some leaf drop, which should stop once they adjust to the new light conditions.

5. Maintain Your Indoor Garden

Help your houseplants thrive indoors by following these tips:

  • Water. Houseplants grow much more slowly indoors, especially as the weather cools. This means they require significantly less water than they did outdoors. After you move your houseplants indoors, don't water them until the top two to three inches of soil has dried out. At that point, mix Pennington® Ultragreen® Plant Starter with Vitamin B1 with water (as directed) to help houseplants avoid moving shock, which can cause excessive leaf drop.
  • Fertilize. Because houseplants grow slowly indoors, they require less fertilizer during the winter months. Feed your houseplants when you first move them indoors with Lilly Miller® All Purpose Planting & Growing Food 10-10-10, which will give them the nutrients they need throughout the fall and winter months.
  • Humidity. As temperatures dip outdoors, the heat is raised indoors, drying the air inside your home. Many houseplants require extra humidity to keep their leaf tips from turning yellow or brown, or from curling. Some plants can lose leaves or buds completely. Provide additional humidity by spraying plants with a fine mist of water two to three times a day. Also, group plants to raise the humidity level, or create humidity trays — gravel-filled dishes or containers that you fill with water to just below the top of the gravel. When you place plants on the gravel, the water beneath humidifies the surrounding air — and the plant — when it evaporates.

Transition Houseplants Outdoors Next Spring

When temperatures remain above 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night in spring, it's safe to transition your houseplants outdoors. Start by placing them next to the house in a shaded area, and then gradually move them to brighter locations over the course of five to seven days. Avoid putting houseplants in a final location that gets full sun, as such light is often too harsh and will burn foliage. A location that gets morning sun or dappled sunlight is generally best. With the first spring watering outdoors, once again apply Pennington® Ultragreen® Plant Starter with B1 and Lilly Miller® All Purpose Planting & Growing Food 10-10-10.


Bringing houseplants indoors for fall and winter is a great way to preserve your favorite plants, enjoy the attractive greenery they bring, and assure that they remain strong to survive the outdoors once again next year.

Total Time Required to Bring Your Houseplants Indoors: 5 days (15 minutes to 2 hours per day, depending on the size of your indoor plant collection and the required task).

Effort: Easy to achieve through simple tasks.

Time breakdown (Depending on the number of plants in your collection):

  • Preparing indoor growing area: 15-60 minutes
  • Checking plants for pests: 15-30 minutes
  • Treat pests/wash houseplants: 1-2 hours
  • Move houseplants to facilitate acclimation: 15 minutes per day for five days
  • Ongoing maintenance tasks (watering, fertilizing, providing humidity, checking for pests) 15-30 minutes per week

Lilly Miller, UltraGreen and Worry Free are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company. Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.


All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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