It's that time of year again: The days are shorter, pumpkin spice is back, and those enormous scarves have emerged from storage. When you notice a nip in the air, you can be sure your plants have too!
Bringing our plants inside to hunker down with us can be crucial for their care when the weather turns cold. Start your journey to becoming a seasoned indoor gardener with this insight on when to bring plants inside for the winter and the supplies you'll need to get things growing right.
Which Plants Should I Move Indoor?
Hardy plants that grow in cold climates will be fine with overwintering outdoors—they’ll simply go dormant or partially dormant.
Plants that aren’t resistant to freezing include:
- Tender bulbs – These include canna and calla lilies, dahlias, elephant ears, some types of begonias, caladiums, and others. Dig up bulbs and store 1 them in a cool, dark part of your house for winter.
- Houseplants – Most houseplants are native to tropical climates and have no adaptations for cold, so you should bring them in well before the first frost hits.
- Annuals – Plants that are sold as annuals in garden centers should also be brought indoors if you want them to survive the winter.2
1 Wisconsin University Horticulture Division. Storing tender bulbs for winter.
When to Move Your Plants Indoors
When bringing your plants indoors for the winter, you’ll want to keep an eye on the temperatures as the winter season approaches. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Tropical plants can be damaged before temperatures hit freezing (40℉), so start moving plants inside a few weeks before the first frost is expected in your area
- Watch the forecast for temperatures nearing 50℉ and bring your plants indoors before the temperature drops any lower than this
- Bringing plants indoors while temperatures are still well above freezing prevents them from being shocked by the sudden change in temperature
Plants with soft, fleshy leaves are usually the most vulnerable to cold. If you're not sure your potted plant can tolerate cold, it’s best to play it safe and move it inside.
5 Tips for Bringing Your Indoor Plants Inside for Winter
Bringing plants indoors for winter can seem like a big job. But if you start early and follow these tips, you’ll soon have all of your greenery safely inside:
- Inspect them for signs of unwanted pests or disease – It’s possible to bring undesirable tag-alongs (e.g., aphids) inside and end up with an infestation in your home. If you see anything questionable, either treat it outdoors or quarantine it far from your other indoor winter plants.
- Acclimate them slowly – Let your plants adjust to the indoor climate gradually by bringing them indoors in the evenings and putting them back outside during the day. If possible, spread the acclimation process out over a week or two.3
- Be mindful of watering – Indoor plants generally need less water than their outdoor counterparts, so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly. You can even use a Sustee stick, which is a moisture meter that can help you keep your plants perfectly hydrated. 4
Consider the humidity – Indoor environments are dry, especially in winter. Treat your plants to a gentle misting with a spray bottle every day or two (this only applies to plants that tolerate wet leaves).
Provide good drainage – I’m sure this may have crossed your mind a time or two when caring for your indoor garden. Choose potting soil with ingredients like peat moss to increase absorbency and prevent your plants from sitting in water. Mix a handful of perlite or vermiculite into each pot to add drainage and air pockets in the soil.5
2 Almanac. How to bring outdoor plants indoors. https://www.almanac.com/how-bring-outdoor-plants-indoors
3 Gardening Know How. How to acclimate plants indoors for winter.
4 Gardening Know How. How to acclimate plants indoors for winter.
5 SF Gate. The drainage of potting soil. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/drainage-potting-soil-74091.html
Where to Put Plants
One of the biggest challenges when bringing plants inside for winter is deciding where to put them. Here are the top factors to consider:
- Light – Outdoor plants that need bright light will be happiest near south-facing windows. Delicate plants that prefer filtered light, like ficus, African violets, and ferns, should be placed away from direct light. Always research 6 the needs of each houseplant before choosing a location.
- Temperature – Think twice before placing plants by heat sources like vents or fireplaces. Dry, warm air blowing on plants can quickly cause leaves to dry out and fall off.
- Plant huddles – Help your plants adapt to the dry indoor environment by placing them in groups. When misted regularly, a crowd of healthy plants retains more humidity than 1 houseplant on its own—you’re effectively creating a tiny microclimate in your living room! To encourage even more humidity, place several pots on a large pebble tray with water, or gather plants around a humidifier.
Tools and Supplies for Moving Plants Indoors
To successfully bring your outdoor plants inside for winter, you’ll want to keep these supplies on hand:
● Pots with drainage holes
● Tray or saucer for each potted plant
● Potting soil
● Vermiculite or perlite for drainage
● Plant food for fertilizing your indoor plants <link to new article in this batch>
● Water mister or humidifier
● South-facing windows (for plants that need bright light)
● North or east-facing windows (for plants that need filtered light or indirect sunlight)
Bring Nature Home With Greendigs
If you're looking for quality houseplants for sale online and want to introduce more leafy friends to your indoor garden, Greendigs is here to help. Offering a beautiful plant selection with delivery straight to your door to help you nurture nature in your home every season.
Our wide selection of plants lets you browse for your unique space with the gardening supplies, plant food, and care tips you need to keep nurturing what you love. This season, stay connected to nature from your own winter oasis by browsing our online plant store today.
Almanac. How to bring outdoor plants indoors.
Gardening Know How. How to acclimate plants indoors for winter.
Houseplant Authority. What is direct sunlight for plants?
SF Gate. The drainage of potting soil.
Wisconsin University Horticulture Division. Storing tender bulbs for winter.