Bringing Plants Indoors for Winter

Houseplants love being outdoors in the summer. What’s not to like? Bright light, lots of humidity, and cool, damp nights are exactly what they want to grow strong and healthy.

But as the weather turns cooler it’s time to bring your plants back indoors. Even though most plants can tolerate at night or two of temperatures in the 40’s or 50’s it’s a good idea to bring them in before they get used to chilly weather. If you wait too long the warmer temperatures indoors will be a shock.

3 Tips for Bringing Plants Indoors for Winter

1. Prepare your indoor growing area(s) before the move. Don’t panic the first cold night and scatter your plants all over the house. Make a plan. Do you need shelves? Is this the year to invest in plant lights?

2. Don’t Bring in bugs! See how to trim and clean your plants in the video below.

3. Be prepared to eliminate a plant (or two) if necessary. Indoor growing space is valuable. Don’t waste it on plants that are struggling. I use the “two strikes and you’re out rule”. If a plant looks like it has more than one ailment it doesn’t make it back indoors. For example, if I suspect insects (strike #1) and the plant has never really looked healthy all summer (strike #2), it doesn’t come back indoors. Sometimes you have to be tough.

Suspect bugs? Here’s how to get rid of them.

Don’t Do This!

Don’t even think about bringing in summer flowering annuals.


Those big, beautiful planters on the patio that are bursting with blooms need to stay on the patio. Do not try to extend their season by bringing them indoors. They’re not indoor plants and they will make a big mess. And they will probably bring in bugs that will affect your other plants. Enjoy the blooms until frost arrives. Then it’s time for plant heaven (compost).

Adjusting Plant Care for Indoor Growing

Growing indoors is different from growing outdoors. Be prepared to make some adjustments to your plant care when you move your plants indoors.

Light – Light levels are lower. Even though your plants where probably in the shade outdoors, they enjoyed light from all directions. Indoors, light comes from only one direction – through a window. Maybe this is the year to invest in a light system?

Temperature and Humidity – Low humidity is one of the biggest challenges for indoor plants. Plants outdoors were enjoying cool, humid nights covered with mist or dew. They won’t be getting that indoors. And when the heat comes on humidity levels will plummet. Maintaining adequate humidity for your plants is important.

3 Ways to Increase Humidity

1.  Lower room temperatures. Limit the hot, dry air that comes from the furnace by lowering the thermostat. Cool air also holds moisture better than warm air. Temperatures can go as low as 60 degrees and your plants won’t complain. You will become uncomfortable before your plants will.

2. Put your plant(s) on Humidity Trays. Humidity Trays are an effective way increase humidity levels. Plants sit on a grid above a reservoir of water in the bottom of the tray. As the water evaporates, moisture levels in the air around your plants gets a boost.

3.  Invest in a humidifier.

Unfortunately, misting plants to increase humidity doesn’t do much. The effects of misting are short lived. Unless you mist your plant every 30 minutes – around the clock – misting won’t help.

Watering Indoors

It’s always difficult to judge how much water to give plants when seasons change. Typically, the growth rate of houseplants slows in winter and that means cutting back on water (and nutrients). But hot air could dry out the growing media and the plant might actually need more water!

Adjusting your watering schedule for indoor growing can be a guessing game. But the water gauge in our hydroponic system tells you when and how much to water – making watering easy. Simply follow the gauge and your plant will get the right amount of the water without over doing it.

Watering Technique for Winter

The most effective watering schedule for both you and your plants is watering once every 2 weeks. Watering at 2 week intervals will give the plants the water they need to grow and allows enough time for the system to dry out so the roots can breathe.

  1. Water to 1/2 on water gauge

2. Wait 2 weeks

3. If plant is dry, everything is working so rewater to 1/2 on gauge. Watering will now be once every 2 weeks. On the other hand, if there’s still water in the reservoir after 2 weeks, dump out the remaining water and let the plant sit dry for a couple of days so the roots get air.

Then, rewater with less water so the plant will be dry in 2 weeks.

What About Nutrients?

Plant growth slows during winter and that means cutting back on nutrients. I recommend applying nutrients at 1/2 the recommended strength every 2nd watering – using just plain water in between. I go back to full strength nutrients around Valentines Day when the plant’s metabolism picks up again.

Don’t be alarmed if some of your plants become lackluster and loose a few leaves. They’re simply adjusting to growing indoors. Resist the temptation to give them an extra dose of nutrients to perk them up – that will do more harm than good.

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