By Ken Johnson
Now that the temperatures are starting to get cooler, it’s time to start thinking about bringing houseplant back indoors. Many of our houseplants are native to tropical and subtropical climates and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. When it starts to get below 55 °F, it’s time to start bringing them indoors. If you don’t want to bring them indoors full time just yet, you can bring them indoors at night and then put them back outside in the morning as temperatures warm.
Before bringing plants back indoors, make sure to inspect them for any insects and other pests. Insects such as aphids, whiteflies and scale, as well as spider mites are some pests that are commonly found on plants outdoors. If allowed indoors, their populations can rapidly increase and spread to other plants. Before resorting to insecticides to get rid of any insects that may be present, try spraying them off of the foliage with a hose. It may take several tries to get rid of all the pests. If spraying doesn’t work, insecticidal soaps can be used to eliminate soft bodied insects. Just make sure to follow the label instructions. In addition to checking the foliage, make sure to check the soil. Often, insects such as earwigs and ants will inhabit soil in potted plants. If you have insects or other critters inhabiting your soil, flush pots with water to drive them out. If ants are present in the soil, the plant may need to be repotted.
Over a period of about a week, gradually reduce light levels by moving plants to increasingly shadier areas. This will start to acclimate them to lower light levels. Once plants are moved indoors, put them next to brightest, sunniest window. Plants will likely slow down their growth considerably, so less water and fertilizer will be needed. The best moisture meter is your finger. For most plants, you should allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. Reduce your fertilizer applications or discontinue if plants seem to be in a resting period.
It is important to remember that household environments are less than ideal for plant growth. Plants will often drop leaves and turn yellow once they are moved indoors. Increasing humidity levels around plants and providing supplemental lighting can help reduce leaf drop. Eventually plants will acclimatize to their new environment.