• 63°

Bringing houseplants back indoors

My houseplants love being outdoors during spring, summer and fall. I’ve been slow to bring them indoors due to our warm weather, but now is the time to prepare them for their return to the house. Most of our common indoor plants are native to the tropical or subtropical regions and cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees.

Many plants will drop leaves in response to the lower light conditions inside most homes. Gradually exposing them to lower light intensity before permanently moving them indoors should help lessen the shock. However, some leaf drop is unavoidable.

Plants will likely slow down their growth considerably, so less water and fertilizer will be needed. The best moisture meter is your finger. For most plants, you should allow the soil to dry slightly between watering’s. Reduce your fertilizer applications or discontinue them if plants seem to be in a resting period.

Be sure to inspect your plants closely for signs or symptoms of insect attack. Insect pests such as white flies and aphids can be prolific outdoors and may further increase their population once they are brought indoors. Also, these pests may spread to other plants very quickly.

Often a sharp spray from a garden hose will remove insect pests from houseplant foliage. Insecticidal soaps also work well, particularly on soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Several treatments may be necessary to be sure that the pests are gone. Start checking your plants now, so that control measures will have time to work before bringing your plants indoors.

Rebecca Bates is director of the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service. To contact her, call 601-835-3460