Seasonal Transition Tips

It’s hard to believe it’s September already! For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, that means thinking about bringing our plants back in from their summer vacation. It’s a question we House Plant Hobbyists grapple with every year and everyone has their own prep process, but we have some basic tips to help you with the move.

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Temperature

Keep an eye on your weather forecast and be on the lookout for dips in nighttime temperatures. Some plants will tolerate dips into the upper 40s Fahrenheit, but most tropical plants would prefer it to stay warmer. When in doubt, it’s better to be on the safe side. Bring in your fussiest babies if you suspect the temperature will distress them. For those of us with larger, harder to move plants sudden temperature dips can be a big problem — if this happens and you can’t move a plant, grab an old sheet or drop cloth and tent your plant for the night.

Photo credit: Jaypeg on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Re-acclimation

When the days start cooling off I like to open all the windows and bring the plants inside — if your inside temperature and humidity are wildly different from outside, you may need to re-acclimate them by moving them in more gradually. You can start by bringing them in at night and setting them back outside in the morning, slowly leaving them inside for longer periods. If you have any that have been enjoying sunny spots, try moving them to shadier areas during the days to get them ready for the switch to indoor lighting.

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Pest Inspection

I suspect most of us anxiously watch over our plants all summer for any sign of pests, but do a thorough inspection and treat anything suspicious accordingly. You might find some uninvited visitors have entered your pots through the drainage holes. A soak in mildly warm water for 10-15 minutes should force any “guests” to evacuate the pots. If you have a lot of cacti or succulents, however, you’ll want to avoid the soaking method — they’d rather have less water in winter.

Photo credit:  Jude Doyland  on  Visual Hunt  /  CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Jude Doyland on Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Re-potting

While you may have heard that you have to wait until spring to re-pot, I often re-pot my plants just before they move inside for the winter. A lot of them grow completely wild over the summer, and re-potting into larger pots or pruning is a must for me before bringing them back in. If you’ve found pests during inspection, this is also a good way to get rid of them before they end up in your house. Bear in mind that re-potting is an extra stress on your plant, so if you’re intending to re-pot it’s crucial to time it so that you avoid too much trauma all at once.

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Watering

Whether you’ve been watering them outside or simply enjoying a rainy season, it’s important not to over-water your plants when they move back inside for the winter. Sometimes the switch back to the indoor environment stresses them, causing them to yellow or drop leaves. Don’t mistake that for thirst, because too much water will only stress them even more. Many plants need less water during the winter, so it’s all right to let them dry out a little between watering. As always, how often you water will depend on various environmental factors so observing your plants carefully will help you craft a winter watering schedule.

Photo credit: Lorenzoclick on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Finding the right spot

If you’re rearranging or have acquired many new plants over the summer (guilty over here!) it’s important to find the right interior location for your plants. Many of us have to group plants around windows, so it may be time to give your windows a proper scrub to let in as much as you can. It’s also important to double check that you’re not placing any plants directly in the path of heat or air conditioning vents where they might catch a blast. If the heat is on, you may also need to consider ways to create more humidity for your plant babies. A humidifier is your best bet, but you can check out some other ideas here.

Want more tips and tricks for winterizing your plants? Head over to HPH on Facebook to chat with our global community of plant lovers!