Prepping your Plants for Winter

Prepping your Plants for Winter

By Genevieve Mills

Prepping your Plants for Winter

We're moving into fall temps here in Ohio, and if you're like me, over the summer you may have some of your houseplants luxuriating on your porch or patio. With evening temperatures dipping into the 40s, however, it's time to think about bringing your plants inside.  Most houseplants don't like to be in temperatures below 50 degrees, so planning now before a surprise cold snap will save you lots of heartache.

To start, check your plants to make sure they are free of pests like aphids or mealy bugs.  Give them a good rinse with a garden hose, and consider spraying them with neem oil as a preventative.  

Give them a light pruning--trim out brown branches or leaves, and any stems that don't look their best or are exceedingly long. Don't take more than a third of the plant off, however.  Pruning excess material will help the plant adjust to lower lighting conditions indoors--with less material to keep alive, the plant can mange the lack of bright light it's been used to over the summer.

Find the most brightly lit space in your home and focus on putting your plants there.  If you need to invest in some inexpensive plant stands to spread them out and get them up at different heights, here's your excuse to go shopping.

If you have the time, we recommend that start acclimatizing them to indoor life by bringing them inside in the evenings, then setting them back outside in the mornings. Do this for a few days, gradually increasing the amount of time they are inside. 

(True confessions: the above is a best practice, but if you have to move them all in and keep them in, just turn on extra lights in your space to give them as much light as possible...remember, the days are getting shorter, so not only are they getting less light by being inside, but there is less natural light available.)

Once inside, you'll be able to water less frequently--winter is a dormant period for plants, even tropical ones--so keep an eye on soil moisture levels and only water when the soil is 1/2 or 2/3 dry.

Finally, if your plants look like they are struggling, consider picking up a couple grow lights. There are small, desk size options out there that are reasonably priced and will go a long way in keeping your plants happy. 

With a bit of effort, your plants will brighten up your home and your mood during the winter months, and soon enough, we'll be back to warmer temperatures and long sunny days.