How to Overwinter Container Plants | 6 Steps for Bringing Your Plants Indoors

It is officially the time of year when the weather begins to cool down, especially at night. While this temperature drop may be better for you and make outdoor activities a more enjoyable experience, your potted plants may be feeling the opposite effect.

Once temperatures start reaching below 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside, it is time to start overwintering your potted plants. While some hardy plants may be able to survive all year long in a pot outdoors, it is a good rule of thumb to protect your plants from temperature swings by bringing them indoors.

While putting insulated material around your plants may help protect them from the extreme cold and winter winds, it is still more effective to bring your group of pots indoors. This eliminates the freeze-thaw cycles that can occur when they are left outside.

succulents outdoors

Step 1: Decision Time

First, you’ll be faced with the difficult decision of deciding which plants you are going to put in the time and effort to bring inside.

Indoors, you will likely have limited space and sunlight. Not all of your plants may fit into these areas while receiving the proper care that they need.

To save space, you can create cuttings of your favorite plants, and bring them inside.

Problems with your plants will only escalate once placed indoors. Outside, pests have natural predators that will control their numbers. Indoors, they no longer have these threats and will quickly multiply and spread to other plants.

It is the same when it comes to diseases. The neutral climate inside is ideal for diseases. If left untreated, they will quickly spread, taking over your plant.

That is why we recommend that you either exclude diseased plants when choosing plants or remedy the situation prior to the move. It is also important to only choose healthy plants. If a plant is struggling to survive outside, its condition will only worsen inside.

Step 2: Trim

Once you have decided which plants have made the cut, prepare them while outside. Trim off any dead or leggy branches.

Houseplants can become centerpieces for home décor, so make sure your plants are looking their best while front and center in your house.

Line Of Houseplants

Step 3: Inspect

Ensure that nothing hitches a ride with your plant; do a visual inspection of the leaves, stems, and soil for any pests. Many like to hide on the underside of the leaves, so be very thorough in your search.

If you happen to find any, wipe them off and spray the area with some diluted dish soap.

Step 4: Stop Soil Scavengers

Some critters may be part of the normal and healthy soil ecosystem and can be left alone. However, there may be lingering pests hiding in the roots that must be evicted before bringing the plant inside.

To make sure you got every last one, pour the same soap and water solution from earlier on the top layer of soil. The soap should suffocate any lingering critters surrounding the soil.

Step 5: Water With A Soap Solution

Deeply water the plant after applying the soap solution will help it disperse throughout the pot.

Stop once you see water coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. It is best to do this while still outside to prevent a mess.

Colorful Houseplants

Step 6: The Transfer And Winter Tips

Finally, it is time to bring your plants inside. Each plant is unique and will need a certain amount of light and water. Plan out and place your plants around your house accordingly.

During the winter, your plants will likely grow slower than they would normally and therefore require less watering. Overwatering can be more destructive than the alternative, so be careful. This is especially true with citrus trees, succulents, and palms. 

Since your containers have drainage holes, you will need a saucer, plastic or ceramic, to prevent water damage to your floors.

We advise the use of caution when messing with the roots of your plant in the fall. Unless totally necessary, refreshing your soil and repotting your plants is best done in spring when the days are longer, and the plant is more motivated to make use of the new organic matter you give to it then. 

It is important to know which hardiness zone you are in so that you know when temperatures will drop and when it is time to bring your plants in for winter. This fall, follow the steps above to help your potted plants survive the winter!

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