Cold weather and frost warnings mean the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Do not wait too long before deciding which plants to bring inside.
Examine potential houseplants carefully for insects and eggs. Look at the top and bottom of the leaves and where they join the stem. Eggs are often found on the back of leaves close to the veins. If the plant is already potted, make sure that ants have not invaded the soil. As it is easy to miss insects and or eggs on plants it is best to isolate the incoming plants for about two weeks. Check the new plants regularly for signs of insects and treat them as needed. When insects are found, decide if it is worth trying to eradicate the creatures or put the plant back outside.
Look for plants that thrive indoors or overwinter easily. Succulents, cacti, tropical plants and geraniums are often brought into the house in the fall. Expect plants to show signs of stress, loss of leaf, when they are moved into a different environment.
Succulents are full of liquid making them very susceptible to light frosts. Once inside, place them in a bright window and water sparingly as they are headed into dormancy.
Place tropical plants according to the amount of light they require. Water when the soil is dry below the surface. As the days grow shorter, tropical plants need less moisture than they do in their prime growing season unless they are under grow lights.
Geraniums have been overwintering inside for generations. One way is to encourage the plant to become dormant by placing it in a cool area with dull light and minimal water. The plant will exist until the days are longer then it will put out new growth. When space is at a premium, cut back the top growth of the geranium as a few leaves will support the plant in its dormant state.
Another method is to place geraniums in bright sunny windows or under artificial light. With extra light they thrive and may even bloom. When houses were drafty geraniums were brought in bare rooted and hung in the rafters of cold rooms. Today’s cold rooms are drier and the roots usually dry out before spring.
To over winter fuchsia plants, place them in a bright, cool window and allow the plant to become dormant, watering when needed. When the days begin to get longer, fuchsia plants will start to put out new growth. Cuttings can be taken as soon as new growth appears.
Spikes or dracaenas are easy to over winter. They, like the other plants, survive in a dormant state in a cool area with some sunlight. Dracaenas that are overwintered become large specimen plants.
Be proactive in moving plants inside for the winter. It is easier to decide which plant to take in when it is warm as opposed to a cold, wet evening. Space and time usually play a big part in this decision
Linda Tomlinson is a local horticulturalist that can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org