Bringing Potted Plants Indoors

I’ve been hurriedly bringing all of my frost-sensitive houseplants indoors for the winter in a mad rush to beat the season. As always I am doing it at the last minute rather than drawing it out slowly. Many of you are in a similar boat so I thought I’d compile a checklist of things that I do in the process.

  • Check all plants thoroughly for critters. Check underneath mulch, leaves, in the crevices between stems…
  • Slugs, snails, sowbugs, and earwigs can cram themselves into the tiniest spots. Check all around containers, especially plastic pots and hanging baskets that have a crevice underneath the lip.
  • To flush pests out of the soil: Add a few inches of water to a deep sink or bucket and mix in a few drops of natural dish soap (no chemicals or scents added). The unscented Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap works well for this. Set pots in the liquid for a couple of hours. I am often lazy and don’t bother doing this with all pots — just the ones that I know are problematic.
  • To flush pests out of the soil: A few drops of neem oil can be added to the water as an alternative to soap.
  • Scrub any outside dirt from the side of the pots while they have their turn in the soapy water.
  • Lightly shower particularly dirty or pest-infested plants with a hose before bringing them inside.
  • Scrub down empty pots with a scrub brush and lightly soapy warm water. Set aside to dry thoroughly before putting them away.
  • Place a small piece of newspaper between stacked terracotta pots to keep them from sticking to one another.
  • Prune off any dead or diseased leaves and stems and cut back hard any plants that will be going dormant through the winter months.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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6 thoughts on “Bringing Potted Plants Indoors

  1. Thanks for the tips. Perfect timing, as I watched some kind of fly-wasp drag another insect into one of the houseplants on my patio last week! I’ve been obsessing about what’s in that hole in the soil since then.

  2. Great tips, thank you!

    I have a question: How do you avoid flies from growing in your indoors plants soil?
    I had a big problem last year, all my edible indoors plants suffered. The expert at my local gardening store said that I should let the soil dry completely between waterings, and not to use organic soil, neither compost for indoors plants. He’s right about the watering part, but how can I not use organic soil for edible plants?

  3. Great checklist, wish I had seen it before hurricane Sandy hit so I could have tweeted it to customers who may have benefited, but at least I tweeted it in time for winter! Thanks!

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