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How to Bring House Plants Indoors for the Winter

Updated on July 26, 2017

Moving House Plants and Other Plants Indoors

As summer slowly slides into the golden days of autumn, it's time to begin making plants to move your house plants indoors for the winter, and to transition garden plants such as geraniums inside. Many people give their house plants a 'summer vacation' and bring their tropical plants and common indoor house plants outside in the spring. You must move them back indoors before the first frost. Other plants such as geraniums can be saved over the winter if they get enough light. Yet moving plants indoors in the fall presents several challenges. You must take care not to bring insects, insect eggs or larvae, or diseases inside that could affect other houseplants you have indoors. Moving plants is also a shock to their system; after all, how often do full grown plants move from one location to another in the wild? Use these suggested steps for transitioning your house plants back indoors for the winter months.

Removing Insects and Other Critters

To bring your houseplants indoors for the winter months, take steps to ensure they're not bringing in more than their leaves. Insects, insect larvae and other critters often take up residence among house plants outside.

  • Check your plants for signs of insects. Look for them on the top of leaves, under the leaves, along the stem and under the rim of the pot. Pick the pot up and look underneath, too. Spiders and other insects often weave egg cases in dark, secure areas, such as under the pot rims or underneath the pot itself.
  • If you see insects on the rim of the pot or cocoons, use a spray from the garden hose or a cloth to remove them. Always wear gloves and use caution if you have poisonous spiders and other insects in your area. Avoid contact and use considerable care and caution. Know what to look for and how to identify them!
  • Use a sharp stream of water from your hose to knock most insects off the plant.
  • Consider repotting your house plants at this time. Insects that lay eggs in the soil can hatch once they come inside. By using sterile, bagged garden soil and repotting the plants, not only are you giving them better soil but you are preventing insects from coming indoors.
  • If you see signs of an insect infestation, talk to the professionals at your local County Cooperative Extension office about the best sprays or treatment to use. Insecticidal soap is one common solution. Follow label directions and treat plants outdoors before bring them inside.
  • Quarantine plants for two weeks or more when you bring them indoors if you can. Keep them in a separate area of the house away from plants that never go outdoors. If they've brought diseases or insects inside, this may keep them away from the healthy plants.


Caring for Houseplants

Be sure to provide your houseplants with plenty of TLC once you move them back inside. Check water, light and humidity conditions. Many house plants and holiday plants such as Christmas cactus need very specific requirements to bloom and flourish. Try grouping your plants together according to the light and humidity requirements they need. For example, Christmas cactus and some orchids like similar requirements; high to medium light, cool temperatures and high humidity. Grouping houseplants together makes it easier to care for them and keep them healthy.

If you have any questions about your houseplants, the links below will take you to free information and booklets online from various university and Cooperative Extension websites. Be sure to call your local County Cooperative Extension office with specific questions you may have about unwelcome insect pests in the house. They know about local flora and fauna and can answer specific questions.



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    • profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago

      This was very useful to me. I live in the south but temperatures tend to dip quite a bit at night. I have already brought a few house plants indoors but noticed I brought in some ants, small black ants. I think I will try your suggestion and change the soil. Also, I did not think to quarantine them for a trial period. Thanks for two good tips!!

    • lhale profile image

      lhale 6 years ago from Georgia

      I have to do this every year, and I have LOTS of plants. It's going to be 45 tonight here in Georgia, so I guess I better gear up. From now own, it could be any night! Good article, thank you!

    • SanLaro profile image

      Paulette LaRocque 6 years ago from Dominica/Guyana

      I live in a warm environment but I recommended u to my sister in New York

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Great suggestions. I was just thinking about the transfer of my plants inside this morning. I'd better get on it. The weather is getting colder at night.

    • suzainkhan profile image

      suzainkhan 6 years ago from ludhiana(punjab)