It’s time to bring the houseplants inside



As we enter fall and night temperatures are dropping below 56 degrees, it’s time to bring in those houseplants that you plan on having around next season.

Houseplants are not cold hardy and low temperatures can do some serious damage to them. The recommendation is to bring them in when night temps are consistently in this temperature range.

To bring houseplants in, keep in mind a few things. You may also be bringing in hitchhikers. Insects such as pill bugs (roly-polies), earwigs, slugs and many others often hide at the base of the pots or in the bottom of the soil.

These are very annoying when they start showing up on your plant stands, carpet and more. Those pesky little black fungus gnats are no fun either.

To avoid bringing these in, I first run water through my pots and leach as much out as possible. By running LOTS of water through the soil, eventually they are pushed out, drowned, or just annoyed.



In addition, I also spray the foliage (soft spray — don’t blow it away!) in order to knock potential pests from the foliage. This will help with spider mites and aphids, but not scale.

Check the foliage thoroughly. If leaves are infested, hand pick and remove the leaves. If there is scale on the stem, either use an insecticide or take a cotton swab and dip in alcohol and wipe off. This takes time but will clean up the stems.

You can also use an insecticidal soap on the foliage (read the label to make sure it’s safe for the plant) to kill any insects that might be hiding. Make sure the pests are also listed on the label.

If you have a major problem with soil insects, as mentioned above, you can re-pot the plant, using new potting soil. Or, identify the specific pest, use an insecticide labeled for the pest and the plant, and allow it to dry before bringing indoors. Not all pesticides are labeled for indoors.

As always, READ the LABEL!

The other thing to keep in mind is that these plants are slowing down in growth. Shorter day lengths, cooler nights lead to slower growth. Therefore, they won’t be using nutrients or water as much as they do during the summer.

Cut back on watering and don’t fertilize until sometime in the late winter unless they need fertilizer.

Light inside will be lower than what plants had outdoors, even if they were in the shade. Therefore, expect some grumbling from the plants. They may drop foliage or look a little puny until they adapt to the indoor environment.

Some recommend to slowly expose them to the indoor environment by taking them to a very high light window for a week or 10 days and then moving them to a lower light. This helps them to get used to the lighting.

I, on the other hand, subject them immediately to their new digs. They don’t always like this and drop leaves and droop for a while, but eventually they get used to it.

Unfortunately for my plants, I don’t baby them. If they aren’t tough enough to take my slight abuse, they won’t make it!

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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