As summer comes to an end, you should be getting ready to welcome your porch plant babes back into the safety and warmth of your home to avoid the too-chilly nights to come. But how do you make sure you don’t bring along any unwanted guests in the form of insects, and how do you avoid shocking your plants with the sudden change of scenery? Follow our guide below to ensure a smooth transition bringing your plants back to home, sweet home!
PREP YOUR SPACE
Your returning plants will need an ideal space dedicated for them with plenty of light, away from any drafty doors or vents. Here’s a few ways to improve your indoor conditions in preparation!
- Clean your windows. If you plan to place your plants next to a window, take the time to clean any nearby windows to allow the maximum amount of light to get through. To avoid sunburn on leaves, place plants a couple feet away from the windows, rather than right next to them. A good rule of thumb is, a plant that likes full sun will prefer a south-facing window, while plants that prefer partial sun may be happier in a east- or west-facing window. North-facing windows provide the lowest light and are usually not suitable lighting on their own.
- Replace your bulbs. Your standard indoor lights can be improved for plant health by simply changing out your bulbs for full-spectrum bulbs, found at any hardware store. If you can't find full-spectrum bulbs, opt for a daylight bulb with at least 60 watts.
- Get a grow light. There’s nothing that brings peace of mind for plant lovers during the dim winter months more than a grow light, which provides the right kind of light for your plants at all times. While daylight bulbs will keep your plants alive in winter months, grow lights will actually provide your plant with the right spectrum for continued growth and maturity. Consider installing a grow light in a designated plant corner, where your plants can huddle together for added humidity, too.
- Get a humidifier. The colder months will bring dry air with them, which will inevitably make your plants - and your skin - unhappy. Running a humidifier in the room where your plants are will help them survive, as will grouping them together, which is a natural way to raise the humidity around them. In a pinch, you can even set glasses of water around your plants for natural evaporation!
DE-BUG YOUR PLANTS
Before bringing your plants anywhere near your front door, you’ll want to make sure there are no damaging pests coming along for the ride that can spread to your other plants. Once they make it indoors, pests like spider mites and mealybugs can quickly multiply and get up to all kinds of trouble with your houseplants!
- Inspect your plants. Using a magnifying glass or your naked eye, look closely at all sides of the foliage of your plants, between the whorls of unfurling new growth, at the stem corners, at the surface of the soil, and even around the planter itself. If you find any pests, you can tailor your treatment to the specific kind of problem you’re facing.
- Wash and spray. Even if you don’t see any pests, why take the risk? Hose them down outside with water, and if you feel so inclined, spray them down once they’re dry with a preventative mixture such as Neem oil, which will act as both an insecticide and a miticide and will also provide some deterrent for new critters for a while after. If you’re using it to treat a confirmed pest problem, remember to regularly re-apply for it to be effective. Check out our other articles on pest treatments for more information!
- Soak your plants. Another method of de-bugging plants that has the added benefit of giving plants a thorough watering is to soak your plants, planter and all, in a bucket with a solution of insecticidal soap and water (1 tsp of soap per liter of water, or follow the instructions on the bottle) for about 15-20 minutes. Skim debris off the top of the water with your plant submerged beneath to keep them clean when you take them out. Once they’re done soaking, take them out, rinse them off and clean the planter to your satisfaction. Set out some towels and let them drain excess water before bringing them indoors. Make sure to allow the soil to completely dry before watering them again!
TAKE IT SLOW
Since your plants receive much more light outside than they will inside, it’s important to avoid transplant shock by acclimating your houseplants to lower light conditions gradually.
- Acclimate your plants. Over the course of a few days, start by moving your plants to more and more shaded locations each day, and finally bring them inside. The longer you give them, the better they’ll fare - anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks is recommended. They may drop a few leaves at first once they’ve been moved, but they’ll soon adjust to their new environment!
- Do a little trimming. By cutting back your plants slightly as you bring them in, you can encourage new growth that will be better adapted to life on the inside, and help control their size, too.
- It’s a great time to re-pot. In the course of de-bugging your plant, if you find that a plant is rootbound, it’s a great time to upgrade your houseplant to a new container. Or, if you’re trying to bring in a plant that was planted in the ground, you may have to pot it for the first time! In that case, clean the roots of garden soil and replace completely with potting soil. Check out our guide to repotting for more information!
- Keep them separate. For a couple weeks after bringing your plants inside, you might want to keep them away from any other houseplants you may have, so you have time to observe and make sure your de-bugging efforts were successful. If you missed any critters, it’s easier to treat just your recently moved plants than all of them!
ADJUST YOUR ROUTINE
Once your plants are safely inside, remember that the way you care for them will change with the season, too. Think of plants in winter as almost hibernating - growth will slow way down as they get less light, and they’ll be a lot less thirsty. You usually won’t need to fertilize, either! Make sure the soil is dry to the touch at least 2” down before watering. Read our essential guide to watering and guide to watering in the Wally Eco for more detailed information.
Now that your plant babes are inside for the season, you can enjoy their foliage throughout the colder months and keep them alive for next year!