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Moving In; Bringing Your Outdoor Plants Inside For The Fall And Winter

Small red jalapeno peppers grow in clay pots. A group of hot peppers at the harvest festival. Ripe red hot chili jalapenos on a branch of a bush Vegetables
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Did you know you can bring your pepper plants indoors to overwinter? Those, along with geranium and other plants can come inside this fall and winter and now is the best time to prep them for the trip.

Certain plants can be rehoused indoors over the winter. We'll learn which ones make good candidates for the move!

When September comes, you should be thinking about preparing your plants for relocating indoors.

Certain plants take well to the move, and some good candidates are flowering plants like geraniums, fuschia and mandevilla and herbs like rosemary, parsley and chives. Even hot peppers do well indoors.

If your plants are in the garden or a raised bed, and they are relatively small, go ahead and dig them up and put into a container with potting soil and keep it moist.

Place these containers outside in a place where they will get morning light or partial sun for about a week.

After the week is up, bring them indoors but do spray them with insecticidal soap or neem oil first. Either of these products will kill a lot of the insects that might be hitching a ride on the plants’ leaves or in the soil.

Once inside, place your newly potted plants near a sunny window.

Herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and chives do well going from outdoors to in. With a culinary herb garden indoors, you can snip some leaves and add to salads and dishes through the fall and winter. Then in spring, you can replant them outdoors in spring.

One exception is parsley, as it is a biennial. While indoors, though, the parsley plant will still grow and you can use it for cooking through the winter and into the new year.

Flowers like geraniums, fuschia and coleus will do okay indoors in a sunny window or under some grow lights. Just cut those way back to an almost skeletal structure and let them leaf out and grow inside.

They'll get kind of leggy; you might have to cut them back a couple times.

And if you have a hot pepper plant like a chili pepper or a Thai hot pepper, bring it indoors! Even if the pepper plant dies and the fruits are just hanging on the plant, they will dry and you can use the dried pepper.

Q: I have a rugosa rose I got at a plant swap two years ago. I’d like to divide the bush and transplant a portion of it, which is almost distinct from the main section of stalks. I missed the spring pruning or dividing, and autumn is coming. Is this a good time to do it? - Marianne, in Cabot

Actually, spring would be a better time to prune your rugosa rose. Then you can dig it up and divide it and move it to wherever you like. One task you can do this fall though, is to prune the roots. You can achieve this right now by going around the plant with a spade and dig straight down, slicing into the soil.

This sort of pruning cuts the roots so that they will continue to grow this fall, but they'll branch out, creating a root ball. Then, in the spring, it'll be easier to dig it right out of the ground and it'll be more likely to survive.

Q: We planted potatoes in the ground for the first time. When we went to pull them, the overwhelming majority look to have had various bites taken out of them. There is no sign of larger pests getting into the bed or obvious insects. Do you have any idea what’s doing this and how we can prevent it next year? - Nicole and Christian, in Underhill

Blame the bites on the voles and mice! This is a common problem if you’re growing potatoes, especially if you're around a field area where mice and voles live and look for food.

You can try a couple of methods to dissuade them of their potato-biting habits. One is to grow your potatoes in a raised bed that has hardware cloth underneath it. This makes it less likely that the critters can tunnel underneath and eat your potatoes.

You can also spray some castor oil around the potato plants, especially when the potatoes are starting to mature. Mice and voles don't like the smell and that could keep them away for a little while.

Some people have also had success using an essential oil containing mint around the potato plants. Mice and voles don’t like that smell, either.

Another thing you can try is to harvest your potatoes earlier, as soon as they begin to mature. If you dig them up after the potato plants are done flowering and before they start dying back, you might beat the critters.

You might also try growing potatoes in a container next year, too.

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Mary Engisch is the host and reporter for Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday on VPR.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on VPR. Be part of the fun and send your gardening questions here, for Charlie to answer on the air. Plus, find lots of great gardening tips and information for all seasons here. For more gardening information, check out Charlie's website, Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.