Do These 7 Things to Your Outdoor Container Plants Before Bringing Them Inside

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The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of your outdoor container plants. Though perennial plants usually won’t survive a freeze in pots, it is possible to extend their life by bringing them into the warm embrace of your temperature-controlled home. Box up those knick-knacks and make room for some welcome houseguests that will liven up your space and make the winter more bearable. Here are just a few other things you should do before your container plants come a-knocking. 

Clear away a spot

Though we love being surrounded by plants, too many in a small area can get a little chaotic. Especially over the winter months when you spend more time indoors hiding from the bitter temperatures and dreaming of spring. Before you start hauling in all of your precious container plants to protect them from frost, be sure that you have room for all of them. Designate a sunny, warm place for your plants or provide a grow light if you don’t have space near a window. Try to mimic outdoor conditions such as moisture levels, sun exposure, and temperature.

Debug the plants

The last thing you want is for all of your houseplants to be infected by pests from outdoors. Send your plants through decontamination by rinsing them off with water and thoroughly inspecting the leaves and soil for any unwanted bugs. 

Repot oversized plants

If your plant had proper sunshine and nutrients over the summer, it is likely too large for the pot you put it in last spring. Take this opportunity to repot any plants that have outgrown their home into a container at least 2 inches larger than their previous pot. 

Prune dead foliage

The end of the outdoor growing season can leave plants looking a little leggy and worn out. Prune back ⅓ of the plant and be sure to trim off any dead or dying foliage or spent blooms so that it can direct energy into adjusting to its new environment. 

Acclimate your plants

Bringing plants indoors doesn’t always end well. If you’ve experienced nothing but wilted leaves and dead plants and are ready to give up on overwintering your containers, you may be doing just one thing wrong. You must take time to acclimate your plants to the indoor setting. As the weather cools, bring them indoors at night to protect them from freezing temperatures, and place them back out once the day starts to warm. Over two weeks, gradually increase the time it spends in the house until your plant is accustomed to indoor life. If you don’t want to go through so much hassle, simply bring your plants in at the most temperate time of fall when the temperature outdoors is about the same as it is indoors. This will be less of a shock than waiting until just before a frost to expose them to the dry, hot air of your house. 

Pick the chosen few

Any gardener knows that there are hard decisions to make when it comes to deciding which plants to save and which to scrap. Brace yourself for the post-summer blues that often arrive when you have to start making these difficult choices. No matter how much you may want to, you probably won’t be able to bring all of your container plants indoors. Be discerning and pick the healthiest, most well-established plants that have the best chance of survival. If you have any plants that have been with you for years or were more of an investment purchase, give those a priority spot next to the window. 

Wash foliage

Plants collect all sorts of dirt and debris when they’re outside, which is totally natural and to be expected. However, you don’t necessarily want the great outdoors coming into your living room with all of its dirt and grime. Dust off the leaves, spray plants with diluted dish soap and lightly wipe down with a clean cloth to leave them shining. Keeping the leaves clean will also help allow your plant to absorb essential sunshine and moisture from the air. Make this a regular part of any houseplant care to keep your home clean and prevent dust buildup. 

Have you had success with overwintering container plants indoors? Let us know in the comments below!

-Taylor Ramsey

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