Overwintering outdoor plants is as simple as bringing them indoors and potting if necessary. This is an ideal method for having ready-to-use container plants for the following spring. We spent the month of October at our vacation home in sunny Florida. Before we left, I gathered up all the potted geraniums, annual herbs, the potted herbs and the hibiscus tree to bring indoors for the winter. Normally, I bring in a couple of pepper plants and tomato clippings but this year decided not to.
Now, bringing in outdoor plants is not as easy as it sounds. Logistically, I need to find suitable space for them among my houseplants and continuous garden. At the same time I have to be very careful not to introduce disease or pests from the outdoor plants to the existing indoor plants. Complicating the issue is some of the outdoor planters I bring in are rather large, not easily moved around indoors as required for sun exposure and watering. Here's a few tips for what I did this year:
- the prep - All plants intended for overwintering were brought onto the deck. The pots were hosed down well then allowed to dry. The plants were cleaned up (eg. dead foliage removed, trimmed if necessary) and checked for any insects. Normally this isn't much of an issue with most herbs but I have found spiders like to spin webs over the openings of certain style self-watering pots. Pill bugs and earwigs are also rather common in some potted plants. Once I was sure there were no living bugs on the plants, I brought them indoors.
- isolation - Even though there may be no signs of infestation on outdoor plants or any newly purchased plant for that matter, all plants new to the house must be put into isolation. This gives me time to be sure there were no insect eggs or larvae that hatched to cause any kind of infestation. I put the plants well away from the other plants, in one of the spare bedrooms. After a two week period, I move the plants to where I think they will do well which means plenty of natural sunlight.
- large planters - I put the large planters on wooden plant dollies that I get at the dollar store for $2. They come un-assembled but all that is needed is to attach the caster wheels. The wheels are a heavy plastic that doesn't mark up our hard flooring so for the price, a rather good deal.
- watering - I water as the plants need it as well as use self-watering planters and water globe for some of the plants.
- fertilizing - I wait to fertilize plants brought indoors until they have adjusted to the indoor environment, usually three to four weeks. I fertilize monthly with an organic fertilizer from that point onwards.