Bring Houseplants Back Indoors Before Winter

Many of our houseplants enjoy a “summer vacation” spending the warm summer months outside in a full or part shade location.  If you placed some of your indoor plants outside for the summer, it’s now time to think about moving them back indoors before temperatures get too cold. 

When nighttime temperatures start to dip consistently to around 50°F, it’s time to bring plants back indoors.  Most houseplants are native to tropical areas and will not tolerate freezing temperatures. Many indoor plants will see damage when temperatures drop to the mid to lower 40s °F and nearly all will die if exposed to below freezing temperatures.  Watch the weather forecast and bring plants back indoors well before nighttime temperatures get too cold.

Before bringing them inside, check for insects.  Take the opportunity to thoroughly rinse off all the foliage while still outside. Let foliage complete dry before bringing indoors.  Once inside, keep plants isolated from other houseplants for 3 to 4 weeks.  Typically, if there is going to be an issue with common indoor plant pests like scale, mealybug, aphids, whitefly, ants, or cockroaches, they will be evident after a month or so indoors.  Inspect often and carefully and address any issues as soon as they are noticed to help prevent infestations on other plants.

Place plants brought back inside in bright indirect light.  Even the brightest locations indoors are a fraction of the light intensity of conditions in a shade or part-shade location outside.  Some houseplants, especially tropical hibiscus and weeping fig, will drop leaves in response to this change in light intensity.  New foliage will grow to replace those leaves lost because of change in environmental conditions.  Provide supplemental light if conditions are too dim indoors.

Stop fertilizing plants in the fall and winter months as they are not actively growing this time of year.  The watering frequency should change as well.  When houseplants need water depends on many environmental conditions including light, humidity, and temperature.  Since all of these conditions will change for the plant moving outdoors back in, the amount of water they need will change too.

Indoor plants benefit from time spent outdoors during the summer and with a little planning, they can be moved back inside to be enjoyed all winter long.

Category: 

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on September 10, 2021. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.