Are your houseplants back inside?

Submitted Photo Timing is important for bringing houseplants indoors. (Photo from pxfuel.)

Hopefully, it is not too late to bring your houseplants in. That cold snap we had over Labor Day weekend really threw a curveball at us. Even though I was warned, there were a few plants that did not get brought in or at least set in the garage. Perhaps, I was in denial.

My houseplants that were accidentally left out survived just fine through the 28-degree nights I had at my house. I had forgotten a few that were tucked here and there. I decided that since they lived through those cold nights, they earned a place back in the house.

Maybe you are thinking, ‘why run the risk of killing a prized houseplant by putting it outdoors?’ Well, plants love the outside as much as we do. Being cooped up over the long winter months is not healthy for anyone, let alone your poor plants. Plants enjoy the fresh outdoor air, the light rains, and basking in the sunshine. Even though I know that plants thrive outdoors, the real reason I take my plants out is because I kind of forget about them once gardening season is among us. Because they are outside and I am outside more, they are less neglected and get watered with the rest of my outdoor plants. I do not have to worry about forgetting them or wonder when I last watered them.

Timing is important – bring them in too early and they are just missing out on that extra fresh air and unfiltered sunlight, but too late and they might be goners. A good rule of thumb is to bring them in two weeks before the first frost date or when the outside temperature is the same or close to what it is in the house. It is also important to know how not to bring in sneaky unwanted guests.

Debugging is truly important, but not entirely necessary. If you choose to skip debugging it is fine, however, it could turn into a major infestation of who knows what type of bugs during the winter invading your living space. Debugging is really simple; place the plant in the garage or basement for a few days to quarantine. You should be able to see if anything crawls out of the pot and works its way across the floor. You would also notice bugs on the leaves, waiting to make their way into a warm, sunny home for the winter months.

When transitioning your houseplants back inside, it is also a good time to think about repotting. This allows you to inspect the roots and ensure the plants have room to grow. It is also a good opportunity to spray down the underside of the leaves with water, potentially knocking off any insects that maybe hiding. The underside of leaves is a wonderful spot for those unwanted houseguests to hide out. By spraying plants down, you can control most of the pests. If the pests are not eliminated by spraying with water, it may be best to throw it away; however, if it is a plant you cannot bear to part with an insecticide spray may be used. If you choose to use an insecticide spray make sure it is safe for inside use and be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully.

No houseplants? Give yourself some by bringing in the herbs you have been enjoying all summer. There are few better things on a cold, snowy day in late winter than plucking some fresh herbs from your window sill and adding to some soup that has been on slow simmer all day…yum!

A little taste of summer freshness in the dead of winter is well worth the little effort they require. I grow herbs all winter on my window sill and am able to have fresh herbs anytime I need them. Growing herbs indoors is quite simple. You will need a sunny location with protection from freezing temperatures. If plants are on the window sill and the temperature is going to be below freezing, I move my plants to the counter during that time, just as a precaution. Additionally, you will need fertile soil, a good quality bag soil is fine; a pot large enough for the roots to have room to grow; and water. If natural lighting is not possible, place the herbs under grow lights.

Happy Gardening!


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