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I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, how do our plants adjust to this change? For us houseplant parents, this signals that it’s time to start transitioning our outdoor summer plants back indoors. While it may seem simple to just pick up your plant pots and haul them inside, there are important steps to follow for a smooth transition.
In this solo episode, I’ll walk you through the entire process of bringing your houseplants indoors in 3 phases: Preparation, Transition, and Maintenance. Follow these 7 steps and you’ll have healthy plants that continue thriving inside all winter long!
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover’s Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
Before bringing any outdoor plants inside, you need to thoroughly inspect and treat them for pests. Summering outdoors exposes plants to insects and diseases that can easily hitch a ride indoors and spread to your other houseplants.
Check Your Plants Thoroughly for Pests
Carefully examine both the top and underside of leaves, as well as the flowers and soil, for any signs of pests like spider mites, mealybugs, or fungus gnats. Also inspect the corner where stems meet leaves. Look for webbing, fuzzy spots, specks moving around, or other abnormalities.
Give plants a strong spray down with the hose, focusing on leaf undersides. The forceful stream helps knock off tenacious bugs. Even if no bugs are visible, it’s wise to give a preventative spray before moving inside. For extra protection, you can use horticultural spray like neem oil. This helps deter bugs and diseases to prevent an indoor infestation.
Prune or Trim Any Abnormal or Damaged Leaves
While outside, your plants may have encountered adverse conditions that led to yellow, browned or damaged leaves and stems. Prune these away before moving inside so you have a blank slate to monitor the plant’s health. Removing sick parts also prevents pests and diseases from spreading indoors.
Check the Soil and Repot if Necessary
Carefully slide the plant from its pot and inspect the root system and soil. Look for a dense mass of circling roots, which indicates it is pot-bound and needs more space. Repot into a container one or two inches larger, using fresh, sterile potting mix. Trim any circled roots before placing in new pot.
If possible, avoid abrupt changes in light levels, temperatures, and humidity. A gradual transition over 1-2 weeks helps prevent shock.
Bring Your Plants Indoors Slowly or Gradually
If possible, introduce indoor conditions slowly. Start by bringing plants inside for just a few hours, then gradually increase their time indoors over a week or two. You can also move outdoor plants into shadier spots a week before bringing them inside. This helps them adjust to lower light levels.
Choose the Best Location in Your Home for Your Recently Sun-exposed Plants
When transporting plants inside, place them in the brightest spot in your home to replicate outdoor light conditions. South-facing windows are ideal. You may need to invest in grow lights to provide enough light intensity for some sun-loving plants.
The dry air in our homes can be very harsh for tropical plants. Help them adjust by misting frequently and using room humidifiers or placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near your plants. Grouping plants together also creates a more humid microclimate.
Once your plants are safely situated inside, you’ll need to adjust your care to match their slower growth during winter.
Quarantine Your Plants and Check for Pests Weekly
Keep newly transitioned plants separated from your other houseplants for at least 2 weeks (ideally for 30 days). Check carefully each day for any signs of pests that may have hitched a ride inside. Catching infestations quickly prevents them from spreading.
Adjust Watering and Fertilizer for Indoor Conditions
The change in light exposure means that plants will require less water due to reduced photosynthesis. Carefully assess each plant’s moisture needs by using a multi-sensory approach to check the soil: feeling its texture, observing color shifts, lifting pots to judge weight, and even using your sense of smell.
As for fertilization, if plants continue actively growing indoors with sufficient light, it’s appropriate to keep fertilizing; otherwise, as growth slows during winter, it’s advisable to decrease fertilization.
Don’t let the change of seasons discourage you. Implement these guidelines and you’ll be rewarded with happy, healthy houseplants that add life to your indoor environment all winter.
Make sure your plants are all set for the new season! Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly. To top it all off, they have a huge sustainability commitment with a 100% solar powered plant, zero waste manufacturing and eco-friendly packaging.
Plant care IS self-care! In this book, author Kamili Bell Hill, a beloved guest on the pod, shows how taking care of houseplants is also taking care of one’s self. Learn easy houseplant care tips alongside lessons like how to use houseplants to live a stress-free and self-loving life. Check out Happy Plants, Happy You at your favorite local bookstore, quarto.com, Barnes and Noble, or amazon.com.
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