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Vermont Garden Journal: Bringing Houseplants Indoors For Fall

Fall means that it's time to start moving houseplants indoors. This should be a gradual process till they are permanently inside under a grow light or near a sunny window.
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Fall means that it's time to start moving houseplants indoors. This should be a gradual process till they are permanently inside under a grow light or near a sunny window.

Just like that, the weather turns. Cool evenings, turn into cooler days and all of a sudden, we're thinking fall. I shouldn't be, but I'm always a bit surprised when autumn starts.

Fall doesn't mean the end of the gardening season, but it does mean we really do have to start thinking about frost. One of the early fall garden tasks is transitioning houseplants back indoors. If you moved some houseplants onto your deck or patio for summer, it's time to think about bringing them inside. Most houseplants, such as hibiscus, ficus and Dracena, are subtropical plants. They don't even like temperatures below 50 degrees. So, don't wait to move them inside for winter.

Moving houseplants indoors should be a gradual process. Just like hardening off transplants in spring, the move requires a few steps. First, start moving them inside in the evenings, then back outside during the day. This will help them avoid the coldest part of the day. After a few nights indoors, bring the houseplants outside later each morning, until after a week, they're indoors permanently under a grow light or near a sunny window.

Another part of bringing houseplants indoors are insects. Aphids, scale, and mealy bugs love to hitch a ride indoors on your plants. Quarantine your houseplants for a few weeks inside and watch for signs of these pests. If you see them, on a warm day, bring the plants back outdoors and spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Continue as many times as needed to kill the pests.

Once the days really get shorter, be prepared for houseplants to drop their large, summer leaves and flower buds, and grow low-light, smaller leaves for winter. Reduce watering and stop fertilizing. The goal is to help them survive until spring.

Now for this week's tip: thumping your watermelons isn't a reliable way to test for ripeness. The best technique is look at the curlicue tendril closest to the fruit. When it has turned brown, it's time to harvest.

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