Winter Care for Your Tropical Plants
Now that it is fall, you should be bringing your houseplants back inside for the winter. Tropical plants will not survive a frost or temperatures below 40 degrees, so be sure to heed any warnings for our area. We typically recommend setting your houseplants outside for the growing season once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees in the spring. Tropical plants will benefit from an outdoor vacation during our humid summers.
To discourage unwanted guests, submerge your plants’ pots in water for twenty minutes or so to run out any creepy crawlers like ants, sow bugs and centipedes that could be hiding in the soil. You may use an insecticidal soap and wipe down the leaves to get rid of mites or scale. You can also use a granular systemic insecticide, like Bonide Houseplant Insect Control, which can protect your plant for up to 8 weeks. Always be sure to check the labels on pesticides to ensure you won’t damage your plants. Some sensitive plants, like ferns or Begonias, can be damaged by insecticides.
You will need to acclimate your plants to living inside again. Begin by placing them in a shady location outdoors for a few days. Then progress to moving them into your house for overnight stays and put them back outdoors during the day. After a week or so, they should be ready to come inside.
Our homes in the winter are especially dry. Keep your plants away from drafts and heat vents. Provide extra moisture by misting and using a humidity tray filled with pebbles, this prevents your plant from sitting in water and getting soggy feet (a definite no-no!). It is also beneficial to group your potted plants together to maximize humidity.
Cease fertilizing in the winter when plants enter their slow-growth dormancy phase. Because of this they also will not use as much water as they had during the growing season. Allow most houseplants to dry out almost entirely before watering. This will also help prevent a fungus gnat infestation, they love overly moist soil!
If your plant is a flowering tropical provide it as much sunlight as possible. A southern exposure is ideal. If you can’t manage that, you may want to invest in a plant grow light, especially if you’d like to try to keep your plant in bloom through the winter months. Some flowering plants, like Hibiscus or Mandevilla, also benefit from a little pruning before moving indoors.
Most other foliage plants will do well in bright, but indirect light. Remember that windows can be drafty, so be mindful of where you place them to provide light.
If you have any questions about a particular houseplant, call, e-mail, or visit us in the greenhouse for personalized advice!