In the late Fall—If you are moving a plant inside that has been outside (to provide winter protection) –water it well first and then make a solution of 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 gallon of water and use that to drench the soil—this will kill off pesky fungal gnats or other soil born insects that may be there and the plants will benefit from the acidity in the Apple Cider Vinegar. Let this drain through and then move your plant inside. (Be sure that you understand that this is Apple Cider Vinegar not white vinegar-white vinegar will damage
Examine the plant to make sure that it is free of adult aphids , mealy bugs or scale—just look for anything that looks like it could be a bug on the plant. Wash them off with a cold spray from the hose—if the insect seems to be a hard shell stuck on the limbs –then mix two teaspoons of Canola oil & 1 teaspoon of a clear dish soap like Palmolive or Dawn in a quart spray bottle shake it very well and spray the stems where you see the scale- repeat if you notice the scale worsening ( note-never spray hibiscus with anything with soap in it- it will defoliate the plant)
*** This is usually not the time to cut plants back unless they have been badly damaged or are too large to store. The reason for this is- they will not put on much growth inside the house—so if they are pretty and full now –leave them alone-until just before you put them back out in Spring after the chance of frost has past—usually April 1st- April 15th here
*** Be sure to reduce your watering schedule because they will not be receiving as much light inside as they did outside which will reduce their need for water.
***Place them in a spot where they will receive good bright light—or very early morning sun only. Even a few hours of sun light coming through a window and hitting a plant can be very hot—and cause almost a melting effect on the plant.
***Try to find a spot that is not in the direct line of air coming from your central heating vents—this air is very drying to the leaves and can cause transpiration that turns the leaves crispy even if watered well.
***Do not think that it is a good idea to move your plants in and out during the winter months when it is an
occasional pretty warm day. This is very hard on plants and will eventually cause their leaves to look damaged
or cause them to defoliate. They need stability in order to maintain the right amount of sugars in their leaves. ( so don’t confuse them!) if they fuss a little (lose some leaves) when you first move them inside- that is normal – but once the soil is treated and they are moved inside it is best to leave them there until next spring.
Extra Tip—If you would like to grow herbs or topiaries inside all winter long use a tray or saucer filled with pea gravel and set the pot on top of the gravel. This will provide good drainage and consistent humidity in the air around the plant. Grow your plants in a bright spot or allow only a tiny bit of AM sun to actually hit them through the window.
Depending on what plants you are growing the need for light will vary- so monitor your plants—if they aren’t doing well it could be any of the following things:
*Not enough light
*The sun could be too hot if they are being directly hit at any time of day ( usually not a good idea )
* Too much or too little water—water well at the time of watering —- and you must determine how often by checking the soil—remember that the same plant will need less water inside then it did outside.
* The air is too dry—check and see if the plant is being directly hit by a vent across the room.
Plants that look great inside
If these plants look good now they will look pretty all winter ( if their needs are met -follow this guide)
Sambac Jasmine , Ivies ( all kinds), Tropical Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Lemon trees, Angel Wing Begonias, Rex Begonias, Persian Shield, Ferns ( shake them off to remove any old material from the plants from time to time -some of them shed badly-if they misbehave throw them in the garage until next spring)
FYI—if all you are wanting to do is just keep plants from dying in the winter—just store them in the brightest spot in a shed or garage for protection-and water them about every two weeks—then spruce them up in late March or early April and put them back outside and water them well.
Most herbs do well in a bright humid spot-so try your favorites. Here are my favorite herbs for growing inside–FYI—most of these do not need to be moved inside in winter except the Basil & Fern Leaf Lavender —This is just if you’d like to grow them inside in small pots for the fragrance & look & ease of sniping them for your favorite dish in winter.
Mint, Basil – all kinds especially sweet basil, Spicy Oregano, Variegated Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena,
Sage & Rosemary- while small –for about 4 months-then they want outside
Fern Leaf Lavender & Cuban Oregano aren’t culinary that I know of but they sure do well in a window with a tiny bit of morning sun- and the smell is just great.
Love & Luck, Lucy Harrell