If you are a gardener, you probably have a host of plants that you have summered outside and intend to bring them inside for the winter. If you are anything like I am, and I'm betting you are, you've had some experience with moving your plants inside and watching them struggle to survive. The good news is, by beginning the process before temperature drop into the 50s at night and following five simple steps you can increase your chances of success.
- Inspect your plants carefully for any signs of insects. This involves looking under leaves and along the stem for the plant for crawly creatures that have chosen your plants as their summer home. It also means checking the soil. Don't assume that because is no obvious damage to your plants that they are insect free. Icky slugs and crawly worms may be hiding in the edges of the pot or have crawled through the drainage holes.
- Trim the foliage. Many of us are reluctant to cut plants back because we fear they will not do well and we will be left with chopped off plants. The truth is, you plants will fare better in their trip inside if you trim away overgrown foliage. This forces the plant to produce new leaves along the stem and creates dense foliage. Some plants such as ivies, pothos, impatiens, begonias and geraniums benefit from being cut back to at least ½ their height and will thrive if cut back to within a few inches of the crown.
- Repot the plant. You may be tempted to leave your plant in the same pot it has grown in all summer, but this isn't always a good idea. Soil needs replacing as it becomes depleted of nutrients and this a good time to complete the chore, besides it will give you a good opportunity to check the soil for bugs and worms. Choose a pot that complements the area where it will be displayed to give your plants a new look.
- Wash and dry. That's right. Before you bring those plants inside, its time to give them a quick bath to rid them of any insects you may have missed. A few drops of dish detergent to a quart of warm water will do the trick. Dip the foliage into a bowl filled with the solution and give the leaves a quick swoosh. Allow foliage to dry completely before bringing the plant inside.
- Transitioning. Place the plant in a cool room that mimics the outside temperature to allow it to adjust to an inside environment. Gradually move the plant to warmer areas of your home. This eliminates the stress to the plant and prevents leaf drop that may occur if temperatures fluctuate too much.