This is the time of year that everyone is starting to bring their house plants in that they put outside for the summer. You put them outside for the summer to soak up the beautiful sun and the fresh air, and maybe your plants put on a bunch of new growth when they are outside. But at the end of the summer you want to bring them back inside (if they are not winter hardy in your area). How can you do that safely? Well there are certain things you can do to lessen the stress on the plant. I will also share a few tips for putting plants outside that have been living in!
Why do we need to do this transition carefully? Plants are sensitive to changes in their environment, and each factor influences another. For example, a plant that is getting very little light is going to need very little nutrients because it is not doing very much photosynthesis. On the other hand a plant that is getting a lot of light is going to need more nutrients because it is doing a lot more photosynthesis.
Anything you can do to make the transition more gentle and slower is going to help your plant out in the long run. Remember, you are trying to help the plant adjust to quite a bit of change considering they haven't been walking in and out of the house all summer like you have!
Bringing plants in successfully:
Make sure to remove dead leaf materials and do a good pesticide spray on your plants. You will want to make sure that no pests stay on these plants otherwise they will get on the plants that you have indoors already. I use two different organic pesticides, All-Per Plus (which drives pests away with oils) and Captain Jack's Deadbug (contact kills with bacteria extract). They are both all organic.
Don't panic if your plant drops leaves. They are usually getting less light, so they don't need as many leaves because they are doing significantly less photosynthesis. So your plant many drop leaves and that is normal. Even light going through a window is much weaker than straight to the plant. A lot of windows are double layered, and in between the layer they put a gas that can block the UV light from coming in. One way to change this is to add grow lights in your house! Pretty much all of your plants will love you for it and will grow like crazy! I use mostly LEDs and fluorescent lights. Check out my blog post about indoor grow lighting for more info!
Don't give your plant as much fertilizer. They need much less in the low light situation. If you have your plants under grow lights I would continue fertilizing, but if you don't have lights cut the fertilizer rate in half.
Before moving the plant, monitor the difference in humidity and temperature between the plant's current location and the plant's new planned location. For example if the plant is outside in 60 degrees with 37% humidity, and the plant's new location is in your house that is 76 degrees and 55% humidity, your plant will be experiencing a difference of 16 degrees and 18% humidity. And if the plant's new spot happens to be by a heat vent maybe it is really 80 degrees right where your plant is. So to reduce the stress you can try to ease that plant into the new environment by opening a nearby window to cool that area during the day and eventually not opening the window at all.
Moving plants out successfully:
Move your plants outside for a few hours a day, for about a week. After that week, double the amount of time the plants are being taken outside and see how they react after a few days. If they are doing well you can leave them outside and see if they are fine. I keep a close eye on them because you will be able to see if they react negatively and you will be able to bring them inside and slow the transition process. If the leaves start to get bleached white patches, it means the plant is getting more light than it is used to and has to be transitioned slower to the direct sunlight.
Increase the amount of fertilizer the plants are getting and if needed, upgrade the size of the pot. If the plant gets bigger and has to be watered all the time or becomes top heavy, it is a good idea to upgrade the pot. Or you can prune back the new growth and try to keep the plant the same size.
Remember that your plant may loose leaves! The new leaves your plant grows will be better adjusted to the high levels of light that the plant is receiving outside.
As you learn how your plant reacts to different environmental changes, you can more easily move them in and out because you know what the plant prefers. Comment below with any tips you can share, or any questions you have! Thank you for tuning into my blog.