Indoors for the Winter

Create the ideal inside environment for your plants

SAVVY GARDENERS extend the lives of their annuals and perennials by moving them inside before winter’s first frost. Creating an indoor environment that suits the needs of your outdoor foliage requires some minor adjustments. Sandy Yakob, president of the Union County Master Gardener Volunteer Association, offers these suggestions for maintaining your plants indoors through the cooler season and transitioning them back outside in the spring. A few of Yakob’s favorites to bring inside are begonias, geraniums, ferns, and herbs. 

Seek the light when bringing plants indoors.
Transplants are happy anywhere near a window that allows for sufficient light. Take advantage of mild, sunny days in the winter by moving your plants outside for fresh air and extra light. Just don’t forget to bring them in come nightfall.

When it comes to watering, think less.
Since plants absorb less light indoors, they also require less water. Check the soil for dryness every few days. Yakob recommends placing a few river rocks on top of the soil in your planters. Water hits the rocks and dissipates, allowing for even distribution and maximum absorption. Occasional misting is also beneficial. If static is an issue in your house during the dry, winter months, it will also affect your plants. Misting helps create the humidity plants love.

Protect larger plants with a pop-up greenhouse. 
Potted fruit trees, avocado trees, and olive trees are some of your garden’s best assets, but they won’t do well inside all winter. If you have room on a deck or patio, consider a pop-up greenhouse. The portable structures have screened vents that open to provide air circulation and close to protect against freezing temperatures and maintain humidity.

Once spring arrives, it’s time to head outdoors.
When the threat of frost passes, usually in mid- to late April, you can move your transitioned plants and some traditional houseplants to pots on your deck or into your garden. Good houseplants to move outdoors include Christmas cactus, pothos, and peace lilies. Begin by moving them to a shady spot outside, so they don’t receive direct sunlight for more than two hours each day. Make sure the pots have good drainage and always keep the soil moist. Once the plants become acclimated to the outdoors and appear to be thriving, you can move them to other parts of your garden.