Give your potted plants shelter from the dropping temperatures -- but make sure to transition them carefully from outside to inside with these tips from a gardening pro.
Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien
Even though the temperatures are dropping, your potted plants can still survive year-round. It's the perfect time for those potted plants that have been sunning themselves outdoors to come inside for the winter. Many outdoor plants will thrive just fine indoors, and then you can bring them back outside come spring.
We asked garden expert Grace Martinelli, owner of the Brooklyn, NY garden shop Graceful Gardens
, to share her tips for prepping potted plants for the big move inside. Grace shared examples of a number of outdoor potted plants that will be happy indoors for the winter: succulents, aloe, rosemary, basil, lavender, oxalis, coleus, ferns, and tender plants.
If you bring your potted plants straight indoors, your heated house will likely shock your plants, Grace says. The plants could easily dry out, wither, and die from the harsh change of temperature and air. A gradual transition is the key.
- Clean the leaves first
. Before you move the plants, clean the leaves to get rid of any bugs. Grace recommends using a mixture of soapy water (be sure to use a natural soap) and a rag or paper towel. She spritzes the leaves and then wipes them down.
- Move plants to a sheltered outdoor area first.
Before bringing your potted plants fully indoors, transition them to a covered outdoor area or a garage for a couple days. This will protect the plants from cooler winds.
- Transition the plants indoors for a few nights.
Let your plants have a "sleepover" in your house for a few nights, but move them back to the sheltered outdoor spot during the daytime.
After a week of transitioning your plants, they'll be ready for the big migration.
- Choose the indoor spot wisely
. Grace noted that many herbs, like rosemary and basil, will want more sun inside than they required outdoors. Pick a bright, sunny spot indoors for any herbs you're bringing inside. You'll also want to water these plants more frequently. Succulents and aloe love to sit by a cool window; they're used to living in the desert where there are hot days and cool nights.
- Some plants hibernate
. Many houseplants slow their growth in the winter. You can water them less frequently. This holds true for succulents and aloe, which go dormant for the winter and require less water.
- Spritz away
: Many potted houseplants will be happy to receive an occasional spritz of water on their leaves. Your ferns and houseplants will love a little water on their leaves. (Steer away from spritzing the leaves of succulents and aloe, though.) Some ferns, including a maidenhair fern, would be happy to sit under a glass cloche
for the winter. Creating an instant terrarium with the cloche cover keeps a warm humidity around the fern.
Follow this same guide if you adopt a potted Christmas tree. Those mini trees also need to transition indoors before sitting close to your warm hearth. Be sure to time it so you only keep potted Christmas trees indoors for a couple weeks; any longer and they'll dry out. You'll want to transition them back outdoors in the same gradual way right after the holidays.