Don't just pick up and move, plants require more care

Ficus plants will adjust well to living indoors for the winter, if you take the proper steps to prepare them.

Most of you have already brought your tropical plants inside for the winter, I hope. But, for the few of you that haven’t quite had the time to get to that chore, I thought I would mention a few tips on how to correctly prepare your plants for their winter home.

I fully understand that there are thousands of you, like myself, who just pick up the plant and carry it inside. This article will be for the folks who like to do things more systematically.

If the plant has been in full sun, it should be taken to a shadier spot for two weeks, so it can get used to the low light it is going to get in your home. It would have been great had you done this three weeks ago. I would probably skip this step with the cold weather on the horizon. Try to remember it next year.

There is always a chance of having bugs on the plant, and you really don’t want to bring the buggies inside. Before you disconnect the hose for the winter, hose off the plant a couple of times to wash the bugs off. Let it dry a bit so you don’t get water drippings all over the kitchen floor and get yelled at by your other half. Bring the plants inside as soon as possible, so the buggies don’t have a chance to jump onboard again.

Spraying your plant with insecticidal soap will also work. Spray the leaves, stems, and soil, which should wipe out any bugs. One product you might use is Safer Insect Killing Soap, but other brands will also work.

When you finally get your plants inside, they need to be placed in a south or west facing window for the most light. Do not place them near a heat register or where they would get a cold draft. When I say cold draft, I don’t mean a bottle of Budweiser. Just keep them away from outside doors or any broken windows you haven’t had the time to fix yet. I may have one of those in my garage.

When you bring your plants inside, be prepared for them to drop a ton of leaves as they prepare for the indoor lighting. Yes, this will be messy, especially with Boston ferns, hibiscus, and ficus trees. Keep the shop vac handy.

It is suggested, but not by me, of course, to give your plant a good rinsing off several times during the winter months. The only place I know to do this is in the shower. You can either let the plants join you for your morning shower, or if you are a modest person, let them have their alone time. Five to 10 minutes of lukewarm water will do the trick, and the plants will love the humidity. As an added perk, you might play the song “Autumn Leaves” by Roger Williams while they are showering. They really like that song.

Bringing plants like mandevilla and hibiscus inside may not be worth it. In the spring, when you can finally set them outside, they may not bloom until July. All your neighbors who bought their plants new, will already be enjoying their blooms while you sit and wait. Your way is cheaper though.

Water your plants every couple of weeks while they are inside. When the days start getting longer, you can increase that, plus add some fertilizer every once in a while.

Fall is not the most exciting season for me, but I did have an exciting week. I got my flu shot, a new computer, and my very first subpoena. Since I had never gotten one before, I had no idea what to wear for it. I did put on a dress shirt instead of wearing flannel. I think the constable appreciated that.

Make your space a green space.

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