While most outdoor plants can withstand harsh winters, some suffer severely due to the lack of sunlight and freezing temperatures. Additionally, the absence of pollinators such as bees and other insects hinders reproduction and survival. Annuals can’t handle the cold weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to these plants just yet. Many can be brought inside as houseplants to help them make it through the winter. Nonetheless, the process has to be done correctly to avoid shocking the plants’ systems. Bringing plants inside for winter isn’t as easy as just moving the outdoor containers from one place to another. There are some precautions you need to take, such as:
Get The Plants Inside 50 Days Before the Frost Arrives
Freezing temperatures don’t mean you must bid farewell to your beautiful garden. Many plants in your garden or outdoor planters can be kept alive in your home over the colder months. As a good rule of thumb, bring the plants inside for winter 50 days before the first frost occurs or when temperatures drop below 12ºC. IF you wait too long, you risk exposing the plants to the risk of harsh weather conditions that weaken them before they enter your home. Damage takes place when the water in the plants starts to freeze and expand, which in turn damages the cell and breaks the cell wall. If you happen to notice considerable temperature fluctuations between day and night, don’t wait any longer.
Repot Into Larger Containers Before Moving Them Inside
According to the experts, it’s a good idea to soak the plants in a bucket of water with mild dishwashing soap before bringing them inside. Not only will it give them a good watering, but doing so will also remove the dead leaves and debris. You can take things one step further by repotting them into larger containers and providing fresh soil. It gives you a chance to keep your thumbs green instead of frostbite. Many plants prefer repotting before the next growing season, so there’s no better time than now to do it. The roots will have plenty of time to grow into the newly added potting mix.
The supplies you’ll need are planters, proper soil, and gardening gloves. If you use a container that’s too big, you run the risk of overwatering and, of course, root rot; the best plant pots have holes allowing excess water to drain. Speaking of which, you must change how often you water the plants because most of them will stop growing. You can use a good quality general-purpose potting soil or a seed starting mix. Fill the planter to the base with fresh soil, place the root in the centre, and delicately place soil around and over the roots.
Acclimate Your Plants to Lower Light Levels
Acclimating is the process of adjusting to a new environment over time. Either directly or indirectly, plant problems stem from environmental stress. Therefore, going from the direct sun outdoors to inside your home can be burdensome, which is why it’s recommended to gradually introduce the plants to conditions such as light by placing them in a shady spot for a few days or a couple of weeks to avoid transplant shock. Check them once more for pests and, if necessary, treat them again. Even if the plants are low-light tolerant, it’s not advisable to place them in a bright spot. You need to find a shady patch.
Even if your plants are resting, they still require light because the days get shorter. You can maximise the light by placing them near the sunniest windows, but not too close because plants don’t like draughty areas. Moisture evaporates to a greater degree than the plants can absorb. In the days of a long, dark winter, it’s important to get as much natural light in your home as possible. You can use a grow lamp or grow light bulbs. Pale green and yellow leaves indicate there’s not enough light, so make sure your home is a sunny place. You’ll find that annuals such as geranium or fuchsia will adapt to the new environment.
Check With Each Watering for Signs of Infestation
Dormant plants don’t need too much water, so reduce watering to once every fortnight. For cacti, you can stop watering altogether. While you’re at it, be on the lookout for signs of infestation, such as dying tissue. If the problem is left untreated, the bugs can multiply and destroy your houseplants. Preferably, look at every leaf for signs of insects or mites to ensure you haven’t missed any hitchhikers. You may need to use a magnifying lens because some creatures are very small. If you happen to notice a sticky, shiny substance on the upper surface of the leaves, it’s honeydew, a substance secreted by aphids as they feed on the plant.
Keep The Plants Out of Reach of Animals and Children
Safety is the main consideration, so keep in mind that accidents can happen at all times. Youngsters tend to pick up anything and put it in their mouth, a dangerous habit given they don’t know what plants are toxic or not. Every part of a plant, including the seeds, can be dangerous. You can place the plants on shelves and hang planters or create physical barriers using baby gates. Dogs or cats aren’t innocent either, and some plants are toxic to animals if they decide to have a nibble. There are odours that turn off your pets, such as citrus, garlic, or lavender – combine these with water and mist your plants.
Cold weather leads to unexpected drops in temperature, which can cause plants to die. If your plants can’t tolerate frost or long periods of cool weather, bringing them indoors is of the essence to ensure their survival. It doesn’t require a lot of time and labour, just the same care you provided all summer and autumn. Once they’re indoors, the plants may experience some leaf dropping. It’s normal, so there’s no reason to worry.