Hort Q&A: When to bring plants in

Carla Smith
Pottawatomie County Extension Service educator
When should I bring my plants on the patio inside?

When should I bring my plants on the patio inside?

Because of our warm humid weather during summer, many indoor, tropical plants are often grown outdoors from May to October. They love the hot, humid conditions of our summers and will often grow leaps and bounds. However, cooler weather will soon be arriving, and these tropical plants will need to be moved indoors.

Do not move plants immediately from outside to inside. Plant stress may occur when plants are exposed to sudden changes in temperature, light, and humidity.

As a rule, you will want to move houseplants indoors around the time that the outside temperature is about the same as the indoor temperature.

Light levels inside the home are much lower compared to the bright sunlight outside. To help your plants adjust to the lower light levels before moving them inside, gradually reduce the light levels to which they are exposed by placing them in shaded areas for a few weeks. This will allow the plants to acclimate to the new environmental conditions. When this is done without the time to adjust, you may experience a lot of yellowing leaves or even leaf drop.

Frequently check plants for insects while moving them from locations. You do not want to infest healthy plants with insects. Remove infested and dead plant material. If insects are seen, treat them with a labeled insecticide outdoors. Watch for other creatures in your plants also. I have a little green tree frog that likes the Selloum philodendron on my front porch. He is really cute…but needs to overwinter outdoors.

If you need to cut plants back, the rule of thumb is to not cut back more than 1/3 of the plant. Reducing the size can be helpful if you have several plants to bring inside. Using a dolly can also help considerably with the heavy lifting. As a general rule, do not repot houseplants in the fall. Spring is going to be better for repotting, as the plants will be triggered to grow with higher summer light levels and warm temperatures.

Remember to reduce watering as temperatures and sunlight drop also. Overwatering is the most common problem for house plants, especially during winter months.

If you have any questions on houseplant care, feel free to call or email carlasm@okstate.edu.

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