Time to Start Bringing the Houseplants Inside


During the summer I put my larger foliage plants outside on the fire escape. It’s a western exposure but there’s a large oak tree that keeps the area shaded. I’ve found that plants like ficus, dracaena, philodendron and others do well in this location.

But when the weather gets cooler, I know it’s time to start bringing the plants back inside the house. But before I bring them inside, I want to make sure that I’m not bringing insects into the house. By this point in the season, the insects are slowing down but if I bring any into a warm house, they’ll come back to life with a vengeance and once they’re in the house, it’s hard to control them.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, I check the plants closely to see if there are any visible insects. If there are, I wipe them off the leaves and/or stems with a paper towel.

But even if I can’t see any insects, there can still be some living in the leaf whirls, hiding in the places where the petioles and stems meet or there may be eggs that I don’t notice. So while the plants are still outside, I spray them with an insecticide to kill any remaining insects.

In the past I would drench the plant with insecticidal soap, an organic product that you can find in any garden center. That worked pretty well but lately I’ve been using a systemic insecticide that contains imidacloprid. It’s available in a spray that’s quickly absorbed by the plants. It also comes in a granular formula that can be applied to the soil a few weeks before bringing the plants inside. The benefit of the granular formula is that it will also kill any insects in the soil and limit fungus gnats when the plants are in the house.

The final step before bringing the plants inside is to give them a shower. After a summer outside the leaves can get a little dirty so I put each plant in the shower and spray the top and bottom of all the leaves.

I have a few weeks before the plants have to come inside. It’s time to check for insects and apply the insecticide. The other thing I have to do is find a place to put all of the plants – that’s the truly hard part of bringing the plants inside!


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