Tips for Bringing Plants Indoors for Winter

If you haven’t brought your houseplants, and other plants you wish to overwinter, inside yet, it’s probably too late.  Here in the Mid-Ohio Valley we’ve already had a couple killing frosts.  However, if you’ve brought plants inside or plan to in coming years, here are some tips to help you nurse them along through the winter.

When you are preparing to bring them inside, give them a good wash to remove any insects.  Misting spray bottles adjusted to a stream work great for this.  Once you’ve given them a good cleaning, finish up with a bit of insecticidal soap for added protection.  Just be sure to check out the label to make sure it won’t hurt the plant you are using it on.

Choose a bright, south-facing window for your plants.  They’re going to need as much light as they can get during the short, dark days of winter.  Along those lines, plants will not be able to do photosynthesis at the rate they were during the summer growing season.  You can expect some foliage loss with some plants and the metabolism of many plants will slow down.

With the reduced metabolism of plants and less available light for photosynthesis, you should reduce the amount of watering to compensate.  One exception to this is if you use a dry winter heat source like electric heating.  This will reduce the humidity of your home’s air.  A great way to help remediate reduced humidity is with a pebble tray under you pot filled with water.  The water will slowly evaporate creating a bubble of higher humidity around the plants.

With reduced light for photosynthesis available, the last thing you want to do is encourage new growth.  Therefore, avoid fertilizing your houseplants during the winter.  This will prevent unneeded growth and help keep your plants happy during even the dark days of February.  About a month before the last frost begin fertilizing at about half the normal rate, and then resume normal feeding when you start to transition the plants back outside.

When it comes to moving your plants back outside after winter, baby steps is the key.  Slowly transition your plants back outdoors.  Perhaps move them to a shady porch for a few hours per day, and then gradually work toward a full day outside and appropriate lighting.