University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
BRINGING HOUSEPLANTS INDOORS
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
you let your houseplants "vacation" on the back deck or front porch
this summer, then by early September, it's time to start getting
them ready to
move back inside for the winter.
Because conditions differ widely
between the inside and outside of your home, a gradual
reintroduction to the
indoors is best. Sudden changes in temperature, light, and humidity
be traumatic to plants, resulting in yellowed leaves, dieback,
First, get them ready for the move
indoors. Clean the windows--both inside and out--to ensure that
will get adequate light this winter. If some of your plants will
repotting, make sure you have potting soil (not garden soil),
the supplies you need on hand.
This is also the time to add ceiling
hooks for hanging plants, or build that wide shelf in front of the
you've always wanted. If you have a lot of plants that require high
humidity, you might want to make the shelf wide enough to
accommodate trays to
group these plants together. Line the trays with waterproof
a layer of gravel, and place the pots on top. Keep the gravel
You will need to bring your plants
indoors before nighttime temperatures dip below 45 degrees (F).
tropical plants will suffer damage at temperatures below 40 degrees,
a few even
below 50 degrees.
Inspect plants for insects and
diseases, and treat as appropriate before bringing plants back
Soaking the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes will
insects out of the soil. If snails, earthworms, or other insects
in the soil, you might want to repot
the plants, placing a piece of wire screening over the drainage hole
them out next year.
If necessary, repot plants into
larger containers. If plants have gotten leggy during their outdoor
remove from the container, and prune the top and roots in equal
proportions. Scrub the pot, add fresh bagged potting soil (not
soil which may have diseases), and replant.
This also is a good time to take
cuttings of annual flowers, such as impatiens, begonias, geraniums,
coleus. They root easily in water or sand, and make attractive
houseplants. This is a good way to overwinter them for planting in
garden next year. Or, you can just dig and pot a few annual plants,
their flowers for many more weeks indoors.
To prevent shock when you bring
houseplants back indoors, expose plants gradually to reduced
Usually, if they've been in bright light and you move them into much
light, expect some leaves to fall off. However, new ones should
the plants readapt to the lower light. It’s best if they've been
in high light to put them in similar light indoors, like a south
under plant lights on a timer for 16 hours a day.
Don't overwater! Let the
soil surface get dry to the touch before watering again. If in
don’t water. Water succulents less often, when the soil is dry for
days. Don’t water if quite cloudy or rainy weather, as plants won’t
sufficient light indoors to dry out.
Finally, give your plants a boost of
fertilizer, according to the directions on the product label.
have been repotted with soil containing fertilizer will not need to
again for two to three months, or according to label directions.
Keep in mind that often plants grow more in
winter indoors, receiving more light between snow reflection and
leaves off of