When It's Time to Move Plants Inside
Depending on where you live in the US, watch the weather, and when the average first frost is almost near, it's time to bundle up your plants and move over your other itty-bitty's and make some room. Most tropicals can't take temps below 50°F. For most of us, that's in September.
There are a few things to prepare so your plants stay healthy throughout the winter months inside.
What's Your Planting Zone vs. Your Plant's Hardiness Zone?
On our website, we will list your plant's hardiness zone on the page. This zone number(s) indicates how much cold temps your plant can handle. If it's considered an outdoor shrub in your area, then keep it in the ground. If you're planting in a pot, and you experience cold weather, use plants marked two zones lower than your planting zone since the container doesn't give as much insulation around the roots that in ground soil does. You'll find more here about plant hardiness zones and how to figure what planting zone you're in.
Inspection & Checkup
Before you play musical chairs with your plants from outside to inside, do a little checkup. Use a flashlight and a magnifying glass to examine all the nooks and crannies of your plant. Look under the leaves, down the stem, and soil for any hitchhiker bugs! They can be inconspicuous and play hide and seek, so turn the plant on a lazy susan and move around the plant with those 'Sherlock' eyes. Be proactive and keep our Arbor organic bioprotectant and insecticide on hand for sudden infestations!
This calathea has evidence of spider mites under the leaves. It often takes a magnifying glass to see them. The leaf will discolor and sometimes curl.
Scrub a Dub Dub
Before tucking them into place, shower them to remove any pollen, dust, or ugly bugs. Some plants are sensitive to chemicals in water, so use unsoftened, filtered, distilled, or tap water sitting for 24 hours to dissipate the chemicals. Fill a gardening can with a shower nozzle and gently wash away the grime. Lift the leaves for both sides cleaning or spritz them until they're dripping.
Remove any dead, damaged, or disease parts with sharpened clippers. Sometimes during the season, divots can be evident in the soil where it has compacted. Fluff the soil with a spoon or add additional soil to fill into these spots.
Dress Your Plant
Does your plant have a suitable dress, pants, or shiny new shoes to wear to the party? We have our favorite eco pots we offer in assorted colors, along with our baskets (hula-skirts) and fire-glazed ceramic containers (shiny new shoes). Please note when using these cache pots and baskets, remove your plant to water and let it fully drain before returning back into their outfits!
Top dress your plant by keeping the moss that came with it, or add some of your own. You can also use jewel-toned glass marbles for a top dressing or colored rocks of your choice. If you're using a top dressing, fill the soil up a little less in the container when planting so the top dressing will have enough room without spilling water over when watering.
Add colored glass or natural stone to topdress your plant.
Furniture & Floor Protection
Depending on where you place your plants, ensure you don't damage your furniture or floors with spillover from watering or misting your plants. Keep container saucers under plants. If plants are on the floor, consider getting a yard of clear vinyl plastic to put under the pots to protect any overspill on your floors. It's easy to clean and clear, so it's not noticeable.
A yard of clear vinyl at a craft store can be used as a ‘rug’ to protect your wooden floors when there’s water spill over or misting!
Some of us aren't lucky enough to have bright, indirect light to help our plants survive through the winter. The main culprit to plant loss is watering and lighting issues. Even though the plants are in a state of dormancy through the winter months, their roots are still growing, and they're still photosynthesizing! If you don't have an eastern or, better yet, southern exposure, you may have to supplement with a light fixture made especially for plants with a full spectrum lamp.
We recommend an LED grow light that has at least three arms and an auto on/off feature, so you have a timer built-in for convenience! Dimmable levels are optional too. LEDs consume little power, and the heat output is minimal, plus they last a long time! Place the light within 12 inches of the plant's leaves. Watch the plants to make sure they're getting enough light and how they react. If their leaves are yellowing or dropping off or have a dull color, they may need to move closer to the light. If you notice scorched tips or burned patches, the bulb is too close.
Add LED grow lights to boost the light requirements your plant may need in the fall and winter months to keep it thriving.
Some of the tropicals we carry require medium to high humidity. Our homes, on average, stay at a 45-55% level. Get a hygrometer and set it around your plants to ensure the humidity levels stay consistent if you're not sure. Add a humidifier, pebble trays, or group plants together in clusters to create a higher level. If you have a fish tank, they can add humidity to the air as well.
If you have small to medium plants like calatheas that need higher humidity, you can use a clear garden mini greenhouse to place your favorite plants. Garden cloches also help hold moisture around the plant and often have ventilation at the top. Monitor the moisture level and mist if necessary. Terrariums can be an option in grouping your plants to create that greenhouse effect.
Heating & Air Vents
Look up, down, and all around. Keep your plants from getting warm or cool air blowing directly on the plant's leaves. Sudden fluctuations in temperatures can harm your plant's leaves. The plant will protest by drying out faster than usual, or you'll have leaf drop.
Watering & Fertilizing Habits for Fall and Winter
As daylight reduces in the winter, plants are triggered to go into a dormancy state. Unless you have a lot of artificial light on your plants, you'll notice less need for watering. Thus, while plants are in their resting state, there is no need to fertilize your plant during the fall and winter months. But if you notice growth in leaves because of the supplemental lighting, you can fertilize at a less frequent level than you would in the spring and summer months. Also, your soil may dry out quicker with the plant grow lights so monitor closely for adequate moisture needs.
We recommend our plant meter to determine the soil's moisture levels since our fingers may not be long enough to feel deep down to the root level. Watch our video to learn more about how to water your indoor plant babes here.
Indoor Plant Groupings
If your plants have been hanging out on the back porch and you're bringing them inside for the winter, you'll want to consider grouping them if you're using plant grow-lights. Group them at different heights for displaying or on shelving units for convenience in caring for them. This arrangement raises the humidity levels around them and makes it easier to care for when examining them. No one gets missed that way when they're all in a group if, say, you're watering or fertilizing.