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Over the Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Bring Your Houseplants Back in Now

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Like so many other activities that kick off once school starts, Homeowners begin to shift outdoor activities that take priority over what has been going on in the yard for most of the summer. The lawn will still need to be mowed until sometime in late October or early November and the flower beds will be cleaned up in anticipation of the first frosts and cold weather, yet these are weeks away from needing to be completed.

One activity that seems to get "put off" till the last minute is bringing in the houseplants that have vacationed outside for the summer. It is not uncommon to find ourselves out there with a chance of frost with flashlight in hand covering up the houseplants or rushing them inside the garage for the night. A more relaxed way to handle them is to start now and mentally make some choices ahead of time. Some of the questions you can ask yourself are; do I have room for all of them again? Are some "compost pile worthy" and others worth saving? Are some just too big now and taking cuttings or propagating them is a better choice? Would that leave room for others?

While they are outside, our houseplants can host a number of insects without any apparent damage. The wind and rain helps keep any outbreak from being a problem and natural predators or the environment in general keeps the insect populations down. Bring those houseplants inside without cleaning them up and those same insects can be quite the problem in just a few weeks. Spider mites may be one of the worst and hardest to be rid of if they get established. Make close inspections looking for very fine webbing across leaves and leaf petioles. They look like tiny specks crawling across the leaf underside or in the webbing on new buds or leaves. If you manage spider mites, you will very likely manage any of the other insects found on your houseplants. When you start early, you can make several treatments if needed to ensure you houseplants come indoors pretty clean. Before you bring them in, be sure to rinse the foliage off one more time. There are insects in the soil as well, but they typically do not survive once inside with our drier air and low levels of humidity. You will find them dead later on around the plants on the windowsill or shelf. Bring the plants in on the drier side to allow the plants acclimate to the lower light and humidity and preferably before the furnace kicks on for the first time. You will find your houseplants will do better after you bring them in because they really do not like to be outside in the cooler temperature at night in September anyway. So you have time now to work on this gardening activity and can do a really good job of making choices without being rushed and you get to relax the night of the first frosty weather and save your flashlight batteries for a real emergency.



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