How and when do I bring my houseplants back indoors before winter?

Question: 

How and when do I bring my houseplants back indoors after spending the summer outside before winter?

Answer: 

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, you will need to move 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 completely 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 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 this 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 from the outdoors back in, the amount of water they need will change too.

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