Its the first day of fall and its time to think about bringing all your houseplants indoors for a long winter's nap. The days are getting shorter, the night time temperatures are dipping down and soon its going to be way too cold outdoors for the heat loving plants in your collection.


Many houseplant owners move their houseplants outside in the summer so they can enjoy the sun and air outdoors, but because most houseplants are actually tropical plants, they must be brought back inside once the weather turns cold.

Bringing plants inside for winter isn’t as easy as simply moving their pots from one place to another; there are a few precautions you need to take when acclimating plants from outdoors to indoors to prevent sending your plant into shock. Here are some of our tips for making a smooth transition indoors.

Once the temperatures outside reach 50F or less at night, your houseplant must begin the process to come back into the house. Most houseplants cannot stand temps below 45F. It is very important to acclimate your houseplant to the environmental changes from outside to inside. The steps for how to acclimate plants indoors for winter are easy, but without them your plant may experience shock, wilting, and leaf loss. If you can, plan to gradually transition your plants indoors, putting them in a shady spot for a few weeks before bringing them inside.


The light and humidity changes from outside to inside are dramatically different. When acclimating your houseplant, start by bringing the houseplant in at night. For the first few days, bring the container inside in the evening and move it back outside in the morning. Gradually, over the course of two weeks, increase the amount of time the plant spends indoors until it is indoors full time.


Decide where the plants will go in advance. Try to match the conditions outdoors, putting plants that were in bright sunlight in south-facing windows. If that’s not in the cards, at least try to gradually move plants to lower-light areas over a few days or weeks. They may still lose leaves in response to the reduced light, but you can try to minimize the loss. Without any windows in the way, plants get more sun outdoors than they do inside. Consider cleaning your windows to help maximize the amount of sunlight your plants get through the windows.


Once you’ve got your plants transitioned indoors for the season, be sure not to over-water. Remember, plants that are indoors will not need as much water as plants that are outdoors, so only water when the soil is dry to the touch.


Because houseplants grow slowly indoors, they require less fertilizer during the winter months. Give them a good feeding when you move them back indoors than reduce feeding to once a month for the heavy feeders and completely stop feeding the slower growers until spring.


As temperatures dip outdoors, the heat is raised indoors, drying the air inside your home. Many houseplants require extra humidity to keep their leaf tips from turning yellow or brown, or from curling. Some plants can lose leaves or buds completely. Provide additional humidity by spraying plants with a fine mist of water two to three times a day. Try grouping plants to raise the humidity level, or create a pebbletray — gravel-filled dishes or containers that you fill with water to just below the top of the gravel. When you place plants on the gravel, the water beneath humidifies the surrounding air — and the plant — when it evaporates.


It’s really important to inspect your plants for pests and problems before you bring them indoors. Soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force any pests out in search of air. Drain thoroughly before bringing indoors. If you want to be extra sure that you’re not bringing in any uninvited guests with your plants, you may even want to quarantine them in a room separate from other plants for a few days.

One of the most common issues houseplants have when coming back indoors is bringing unwanted pests with them. Check your houseplants thoroughly for small insects like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites and remove them. These pests can hitchhike on the plants you bring in for the winter and infest all of your houseplants. You will want to use the hose to wash off your houseplants before bringing them in then give them each a good spraying . This will help knock off any pests that you may have missed. After this soaking, treat each plant with insecticidal soap by spraying the tops and bottoms of the leaves and stems thoroughly. We also recommend treating the plants with Bonide Systemic House Plant Insect Control two weeks before making a permanent indoor move by sprinkling the pellets on top of the soil. After incorporating the granules into the soil and watering them in, the pesticide is absorbed by the roots where it moves through the plants to assist in protection against the listed bugs. This product provides protection that lasts for up to 8 weeks.


If the plant has grown over the summer, you may want to consider either pruning or repotting the houseplant. Lightly prune plants that have gotten leggy while outside. If you are pruning it back, don’t prune back more than one-third of the plant. Also, make sure to root prune an equal amount off the roots as you do off the foliage.


Inspect your plants to see if any have outgrown their pots and need to be repotted. If they do, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes, and the appropriate new potting soil. If you will be repotting, repot to a container that is one size larger than the current container.


Bringing houseplants indoors for fall and winter is a great way to preserve your favorite plants, enjoy the attractive greenery they bring, and assure that they remain strong to survive the outdoors once again next year.