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Bringing Plants Back Indoors

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
September 13, 2017        
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton, & Morrison Counties

Bringing Plants Back Indoors
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (09/06/17) — As the fall temperatures begin to cool off it is time to consider bringing indoors the houseplants you may have let “vacation” outside this summer.  Many houseplants will thrive outdoors during Minnesota’s summers, but they do not perform well or may even die if they are exposed to chilly temperatures.  Depending on the species, temperatures dipping below 45-50°F will cause damage.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare to bring your houseplants back indoors:
1) Inspect thoroughly- various insects may be infesting your houseplants outdoors without your knowledge. Inspect the plants leaves, stems, and even the potting soil. Also inspect the plant for signs of disease.  If you notice either an insect or disease do not put with other plants. Treat the issue before bringing indoors and relocating near other plants.
2) Gradually reintroduce to the indoors – just like hardening off your new seedlings, your houseplants may undergo shock if abruptly brought from outdoor conditions to indoors.  This may result in yellow leaves, wilt, dieback, or even death. Take it slow, and let it get acclimated to the indoors again a little at a time.
3) Repot if necessary- many plants will get leggy while outdoors and should be repotted into a larger container. Prune the top and roots equally; use a clean sanitized pot and potting soil to replant.
4) Position plant in sunny location – most likely your plant was exposed to a lot of sun outdoors so although you may want to move it back to a specific spot, you may need to temporarily put it in a very sunny window and gradually reduce its sun exposure to its permanent location.
Other plants that often get brought indoors for the winter are geraniums, even coleus, begonias, and impatiens.  All of these species can be propagated by using cuttings to generate a new crop for next summer. Cuttings should be approximately 4-inches long and be taken from only vigorous, healthy plants. Remove the leaves from the bottom portions. One option is to make a forsythe pot, step-by-step instructions can be found by searching “forsythe pot” at This propagation option allows for cuttings to form roots in a light growing medium like vermiculite and have a consistent moisture supplier with a porous corked clay pot in the center that you add water to.

There are other options to overwinter plants like geraniums such as to cut the plant back to one-third its size and repot. The plant should then be placed in a sunny window, but again don’t forget to inspect your plant for signs of insects or disease before bringing indoors.  You will likely need to prune this plant at various points in the winter to keep its shape.
Fall can be a beautiful time of year, but be sure not to wait till the temperatures dip too low to bring your houseplants back indoors or to take advantage of propagating some of your favorite annuals.