Time To Bring Your Houseplants Back In


20160902COkay, it may still seem hot and summery outdoors, but for how long?

Early September is the ideal time to bring the houseplants you placed outside for the summer back inside. For a smooth transition, you’ll want to do this when the nights are still warm. If you wait until the nights start to become chilly, the plants will become acclimated to that and may react badly when brought back suddenly into the warmth, losing leaves and flowers. It’s better to make the transition between outdoors and in when the conditions in both environments are essentially identical… and in many climates, that’s early September.

Of course, there are a few exceptions, houseplants that are more subtropical than tropical and that therefore actually enjoy cool to cold (but not freezing) temperatures in the fall. You can leave these out until frost truly does threaten. For more on the subject, read Some Houseplants Like It Cold.


If the plant has grown considerably over the summer, you might want to prune it back before you bring it back inside… or to repot it into a larger pot.

And in some circumstances, it’s easier take cuttings and bring them indoors rather than the whole plant.

Bug-free Plants

20160902BRinse your plants thoroughly with a fairly strong jet of water to get rid of dust, grime… and most bugs. Then, to make sure you got all the critters, spray both sides of the leaves with insecticidal soap.

20160902D.jpgSo much for the foliage. To eliminate the insects hidden in the soil, plunge the pot into a tub of soapy water, and soak the roots for 15 to 30 minutes (use rocks or bricks to hold the pot underwater). Soap is toxic to insects, but does little to no damage to the roots, so the treatment should dispose of any unwanted underground intruders.

Next, let the pot drain and bring the plant back in. Yes, it’s that easy!20160902A

10 thoughts on “Time To Bring Your Houseplants Back In

      • John

        That makes sense, except to soak an entire root ball in a pot would take a lot of insecticidal soap? What other “soaps” would you recommend?

      • Of course, we’re talking about diluted insecticidal soap, so you’re only using a few spoonfuls. Ivory is one of the rare commercial soaps that contains only soap. Most others contain perfumes, colorants and other products that can be harmful to plants. Some artisanal soaps would also be fine, but they’re more expensive than insecticidal soap, which really is the best.

  1. Monica

    Wonder if I can leave a small Maple tree in a pail out side over the winter ?? In Northern Ontario, Canada. Or can I take it indoors to keep the leaves on the tree ?

    • Probably that would work, but… containers do freeze more solidly than soil in the ground, as they’re exposed to cold air on more sides. So the result will depend on what kind of maple (some maples are hardier than others) and how cold it gets. Even so, I think your chances of success are excellent. Most maples are tough plants.

      Don’t bring it in: it really needs a cold winter to go through it’s entire cycle. Even if you do bring it in, it would lose its leaves anywhere.

  2. Barbara L. Foster

    My double hibiscus is completely rootbound. I am getting ready to move it into a slightly larger pot. Should I or could I cut back some of the root ball?

    • You can, but don’t absolutely have to. You might just want to slice into the root ball about 1/2 inch deep top to bottom and repeat on 3 other sides. This will cause the roots to react and grow outward into the new soil.

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