The Niagara Region has spectacular weather during summer months for tropicals and houseplants to thrive outdoors. But our winters leave something to the imagination when it comes to tropicals. With autumn settling in nicely, it’s time we start bringing these tender plants indoors.
Cooler weather can begin to damage tender plants, causing flower buds to drop prematurely and can even cause yellowing of leaves,at worse plant death. Generally speaking when night temperatures drop to 10-15°C you should bring your plants safely indoors.
Before you begin transferring your plants indoors you should consider a few simple steps to ensure your plants will stay healthy throughout the years.
Checking for common garden pests
Common garden pests like aphids,mealy bugs and spider mites can be located on the leaves of plants. Carefully inspect plants before bringing indoors,keep close attention to the underside of leaves and the intersection between leaves and stems, as this is where these types of pests congregate. If you do see bugs you can spray the plant with water to dislodge adults. Once the plant is dry apply an insecticidal soap like Safer’s End-All to kill any eggs or larvae left behind. It is best to keep plants that had bugs away from other houseplants for about a 6 week period, this quarantine time will help you assess whether you have gotten rid of the bugs. If after 6 weeks there is no sign of bugs, it is safe to put these plants with others. If during this 6 week period you see new adults emerge, spray the plant thoroughly with insecticidal soap every 2 weeks until the bugs are gone.
If you do not see any bugs on your plant you may want to consider spraying it with insecticidal soap just in case there are any eggs that haven’t hatched.
You can also treat the soil for pests like spiders,potato bugs, and earwigs by submerging small pots in water for about 15 minutes. Doing this will flush out these pests from the soil. Make sure the plants you do this to are dry, you don’t want the soil to become overly wet. Do not use this bug control method on plants that prefer dry conditions, like succulents and cacti. If the pot is too large to do this to you can use a product called diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle this product on top of the soil and put some in a tray that is large enough to sit under the plant. This product will kill these crawling bugs when they walk through it, and is safe to use indoors. If you are worried about small pests like this you can also prevent it from re-occurring by re-potting the plant next spring. When you re-pot, place a fine screen or mesh over drainage holes, this is where pests like earwigs would enter the pot. By placing the screen over the hole you still will allow for proper drainage but prevent bugs from entering the soil.
During this time you should also remove any dead blooms,discolored leaves and debris from the plant. Also make sure to take any debris from the top of the soil. This is where fungus and bugs can often come from.If the plant has become too large you can prune up 1/3 of a branch.
Gradually bring plants indoors
Have you ever brought your plants indoors and within a few weeks you experience yellowing leaves? Moving plants indoors too quickly can cause this stress. Our houses have a very different climate than what our plants are used to when they have spent the summer outdoors. The air indoors tends to be drier and warmer due to heating. It is best to gradually take your plants indoors,acclimating your houseplant to the temperatures and light over a 2 week period. For the first 3 days bring the plant in at night and put it back outdoors in the morning.Over the next 2 weeks gradually increase the time the plant spends indoors. You may also want to scout out a suitable space for the plant to live for the winter. Choose an area with enough light, that isn’t too close to radiators or heat sources. Make sure the plant isn’t too close to any cool drafts in the house. Consider giving your windows a good cleaning to ensure your plants get enough light.
By following this simple guideline you can successfully overwinter healthy plants indoors.