Transition Houseplants for Cooler Weather

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SHORTER DAYS OF sunlight signal time to transition houseplants for cooler weather and get those that have spent several long months outside ready to return indoors for winter. 

1. Plan

Decide how many plants can be reasonably accommodated indoors. Are pots easily maneuvered? If not, consider dividing, or giving away to churches, charities or friends/family. 3-4 weeks is about how long plants need to grow new roots and acclimatize to lower light levels. If growing in sunny locations all summer, move these to shadier areas such as a covered patio, porch, north side of the house, or even under a tree. 

2. Pests

Pests will have had ample time to proliferate in potted plants during summer months. Eradicate pests outdoors while plants are acclimating to lower light levels. Apply Malathion or pyrethrin per manufacturer directions to remove ants, earwigs, centipedes, grubs, aphids, mites, whiteflies and thrips. Control scale insects by using an oil spray such as Ultrafine oil but note ferns will not tolerate oil sprays, use Orthene soluble powder instead. Apply treatments at least 10 days prior to bringing indoors.

3. Potting Mix

Soilless mixes do not contain soil but are a blend of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite allowing for proper drainage yet retain moisture and are lightweight. Most houseplants will be perfectly happy in a readily available commercial potting mix. If the plant is root-bound, and a larger pot will be too unwieldy, consider trimming one-quarter to one-third of the lower part of the rootball. Add fresh potting mix to the bottom of the original container and return the plant to the pot, water well, maintaining lower light levels for a few weeks.

4. Groom

Prior to moving indoors, clean the exterior of pots with a small amount of bleach and water being careful to not touch the growing medium. Give a final trim of dead or yellow foliage, old flower stalks and dead or injured branches or stems.

Ensure poinsettias are not trimmed after the beginning of September. Keep it and holiday cacti in complete darkness at night to ensure blooming/changing color. Once buds form on holiday cacti, bring inside and enjoy the show. Happy Growing!

For more fall gardening tips, visit lsuagcenter.com and see Sophisticated Woman Magazine’s September article here.


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