How to Bring Houseplants back Indoors

26 September 2022

As the cooler days of autumn arrive in the northern part of the world, people are clearing out old plants and planning new gardens for next year. However, plants that spent summer days outside will also need help to return to the inside environment.

Plants that have spent time outside

If the plants have gotten larger than their original containers during their time outside, you can replant them into larger ones. Choose a container that is no more than 5 centimeters wider than the original. And replant them with fresh potting soil, and then water.

This Aug. 31, 2022, image provided by Jessica Damiano shows houseplants vacationing outdoors over summer. They will need to undergo a gradual transition back into the home to avoid shock. (Jessica Damiano via AP)
This Aug. 31, 2022, image provided by Jessica Damiano shows houseplants vacationing outdoors over summer. They will need to undergo a gradual transition back into the home to avoid shock. (Jessica Damiano via AP)

You can always divide plants like spider plants and flamingo flowers into two or more individual plants. Look for plants with root systems that clump together. They divide more easily.

If you are having trouble removing the plants from their containers, or pots, check to see if the roots have come through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If they have, gently pull or cut the extra roots to help remove the plant.

You can then divide the plants.

Firstly, shake off any extra soil carefully.

Secondly, find the connection between the root system and the plant's top growth and pull apart the roots gently. Or you could cut through them with a sharp knife. Be sure that there are at least three healthy leaves attached to the root system of each new plant.

Lastly, place each new plant in its container. Be sure to use fresh soil mix. Water the plants well until new plants form.

All houseplants that spent time outside should be moved to a shady area for a week before going inside for the winter season. This helps the plant get used to lower light levels. Continue to water regularly during this time.

After a week, look for insects on the plant, especially under the leaves. Wash the leaves with water to make sure there are no uninvited guests, like pests. If you are still worried about insects, you can spray the plants with Neem oil mixed with water. And complete the move inside before temperatures drop below 12.7 degrees Celsius.

Plants that have stayed inside

Houseplants that have stayed inside all summer still need care too. Less sunlight and shorter days can slow their growth.

Most indoor plants rest during the fall and winter. This means that they require less water and little to no fertilizer until the following spring. Do not overwater during this time. It could cause the roots to go bad.

Check for moisture in the soil by putting your finger into the pot. If the top few centimeters are dry, then you can water the plant. Avoid cutting the plants until spring, as slower growth in the winter means slower healing, but you can cut any dead and dying leaves.

Many houseplants are tropical, so they need more moisture in the air, called humidity. In most homes during the winter, the air can be very dry because of heating systems.

You can run a humidifier, a machine that produces moisture for the air. Place the plants in the room with the humidifier. Keep plants away from dry heating areas like vents and from cold areas of the house.

Once temperatures are steadily over 15.5 degrees Celsius in the spring, you can safely move the plants outside again.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Jessica Damiano wrote this article for The Associated Press. Faith Pirlo adapted it for Learning English.


Words in This Story

original adj. existing from the beginning

clump – v. to collect in a somewhat round mass

drainage – n. the act or process of removing or pulling water out of or away from soil or some other material

shadyadj. sheltered from the sun's light

pestn. an animal, especially an insect, that causes problems for people especially by damaging crops

fertilizern. a natural or chemical substance that you put on land in order to make plants grow well

moisture – n. a small amount of a liquid like water, that makes something wet or moist

tropical – adj. of or occurring in the tropics

vent n. an opening through which air, steam, smoke, liquid, etc., can go into or out of a room, machine, or container