After all, some states have had their first snowfall already. And within a week or two, the rest of us in the temperate zones will be feeling our first touch of frost. I know that many of you in the tropical zones do not have to worry much about that issue, but for everyone else, it is time to start bringing in those potted plants.
Bring in Those Perennials
Although many annual plants are just left to die and get replaced with something else next year, there are plenty of perennials you probably have in containers that need to be brought in for the winter. That is why they are in containers, right?
What Goes and What Stays?
So, what kind of container plants need to be brought in, and which ones can be left on their own? There is no reason to try to save the annuals because they are going to die anyway. In fact, if they are still alive now you are doing something right, that’s for sure!
But any kind of tropical plant or perennial you have in containers outside, it is time to bring them in. If you live in any area that gets frost, they need to come inside before the first frost. And bringing them in early is better than leaving them out too long. Some of these include:
- English Ivy
- Perennial impatiens
Check Your Plants for Hitchhikers
There are some things to consider when bringing in your container plants for the winter. For example, you need to inspect them carefully before bringing them in. You do not want to bring in any pests with you. Check for bugs, slugs, and any other weirdness that may be living in those containers. Look at the leaves, petals, and even down in the dirt before bringing them in. You may even want to give them a shot of insecticide to get rid of the tiny ones you miss.
They Still Need Sun and Water
Place your plants in a warm area that does not get a lot of drafts. Make sure they can get sunlight or offer them bright lights such as grow lights for at least a few hours a day. Water them carefully since they are going to be indoors. They may go into shock for a few days to watch out for overwatering for the first month or so. Do not give them much fertilizer either. They really need to be a bit dormant in the winter.
Do not panic if some (if not all) of your plants’ leaves fall off a few days after being brought inside. This just means they are going dormant and trying to adjust to the lower light conditions in the house. Just keep providing them with as much light as you can and rotate them once a week, so they get the benefit of the light on both sides if they are in a window.
Get Some Grow Lights
You may want to invest in some good quality grow lights to keep your plants healthy and happy over the winter. After all, you probably spent quite a bit of money and time on them over the spring and summer. Spend a bit more so you do not have to buy all new plants next year. It will actually save you money in the long run.
Moving Back Outside
When you are ready to move them back outside, do so gradually. You will need to wait until after the last frost is predicted. If you are not sure your weather reporters are correct, wait a little longer just in case. For many flowering and tropical plants, you should wait until the low is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Here is a way to transition them back outside, letting them get acclimated as you go.
- On the first day, place the plants in a semi-shaded area near the house.
- The first night, bring them back in at night.
- On the second day, place them by the house again but with a little bit more sun.
- On the second night, bring them back indoors.
- On the third day, move them a bit further out into the sunlight and leave them out overnight.
- On the fifth day, you can put them in whichever spot you have planned for them. It is best not to put them in full sun. The morning or afternoon sun is good enough. Do not forget to give them water and fertilizer within that first week.
Even if you follow all the instructions and do everything right, you still may lose a plant or two. Some of them just do not like to be moved. Try getting a hardier and more tolerant plant that is not as picky such as Begonias or Geraniums. Happy gardening!