If you’ve been giving your houseplants a summer vacation outside, this is the time of year to start preparing them for their move back indoors. Plants need to acclimatize slowly to indoor conditions or they will drop leaves, die back, wilt or even outright die.
Prepare an area inside where they will spend the winter. Most plants enjoy indirect light, away from furnace vents that will dry them out. You may want to clean the windows so they will get the maximum sunlight they need. If you plan to group plants together at a sunny window, line a tray with gravel and place the plant pots on top. Water from the gravel bed will evaporate, providing the humidity level most tropical plants love.
Before bringing any plants indoors, inspect them for any insects. Soaking the pot in lukewarm water for about 15 – 20 minutes will usually force out any stowaways. You may want to take the time to repot the plants now, before bringing them inside. Use good quality potting soil and make sure that the new pot is scrubbed clean. Prune back any leggy plants now as well.
When the plants are ready, long before risk of frost in your area, start by reducing their light levels a few hours a day. Bring them in overnight and then for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the time spent indoors. They may still drop a few leaves in protest, but they should recover quickly. Be sure not to overwater plants during the winter. It’s better to let them get too dry than risk overwatering.
Bringing plants indoors over the winter helps improve indoor air quality by removing airborne toxins and adding to oxygen levels. And looking at greenery, especially when it’s grey and miserable outdoors, helps keep away those winter blues.