Time to Bring the Tropicals Inside
If you had your tropical plants outdoors over the summer months, it is now time to bring them back in, before they get touched by frost.
Ideally you want to bring them indoors before overnight temperatures go below 5 Celsius. To prevent shocking the plant and having the leaves turn yellow or drop off, you want to acclimatize it, so it gets comfortable with its new surroundings. While outdoors plants have become accustomed to lots of sunlight and humidity, it will be different than living indoors, especially over the winter months.
Acclimatizing plants should be done over a period of 10-14 days. Bring the plants indoors over night and put them outdoors in a shaded space during the day so they become accustomed to a lower light situation. Slowly allow the plants to stay indoors for longer periods of time during the day so that by the end of the two weeks they will be used to being indoors.
Before bringing any plant indoors from outdoors, make sure that they are pest and disease free. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased foliage and stems. Do a thorough check of the plants foliage and stems, checking above and under the leaves for any pests such as scale, mealy bug, spider mite, and aphids. Spraying the plant with a good blast of water will dislodge many pests and then hand pick the remaining ones off. An application of insecticidal soap will also help. Don’t forget to check the plants soil as it could contain soil dwelling pests. This can be done by placing the plant in a tub filled with slightly warmed water, for 15 minutes which will flush out the pests.
This is also a good time to trim the plant back if it has become uneven or messy looking, and also to re-pot it into a pot one size larger than the current pot if it has become root bound.
When the plant is brought back indoors, place it in an area where it will receive the correct light. Some plants require more light than others, while others such as ferns like a higher humidity. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to have a higher humidity as this is where water is used. If you choose to place your plant in a lower humidity area, the humidity can be raised by placing the plant on a water filled pebble tray. Choose a large tray and fill it with any type of stone or pebbles, then add only enough water so that it is just below the top layer of pebbles. The plant is placed on top of the pebbles, and as the water evaporates up it creates a higher humidity. Continue to fill the pebble tray with water as it is needed, making sure that the water level is never so high that the plants roots are sitting in water.
It is still an adjustment for a plant moving from outdoors to indoors, so don’t be alarmed if it looses a few leaves. Generally it will produce new leaves. Be careful on the watering as you don’t want to overwater. More plants are killed by overwatering than under watering. Give the plant a thorough water when the soil is dry to the touch, and don’t water again until the soil is dry.
As we enter into winter, an indoor plants growing needs will slow down and they will only need to be fertilized every 8-10 weeks rather than monthly and will require less water. This is true for all houseplants, regardless if they were outside over the summer months or not.
-JosJos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
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