When the temperatures drop and that fall breeze becomes more of a winter chill, you might find yourself with some unhappy or even lifeless plants. Low temperatures, darker days and harsh winds can wreak havoc on your garden and outdoor plants. Thankfully, there is a solution to keeping your plants alive and thriving, and it involves greening up your indoor spaces. Overwintering plants is the process of bringing plants indoors during the cold winter months where they can be safe and warm until spring. Whether it’s inside your home or in a greenhouse, overwintering is an easy and effective way to keep cold sensitive plants alive and enjoyed year round.
Common plants that need to be overwintered indoors include succulents, cactus, houseplants, perennials, seedlings and herbs. Cacti and succulents have high levels of water in their stems and leaves, and when temperatures go below freezing the water inside of your beloved succulents freezes as well. This causes rot, and irreversible damage that leads to the loss of the plant. Houseplants are commonly native to tropical regions, and cannot handle cold temperatures or harsh winds. Several types of perennials can be kept for a whole extra season when they are brought indoors. They are not made to survive the winter, but when brought inside where it's warm their beautiful blooms and foliage can be enjoyed for seasons to come, saving your landscaping and pocket book.
Many think that the winter months mean no starting seedlings or herbs, but by overwintering you can get a jumpstart on your garden and save the herbs you love to admire and cook with. You can start seedlings in trays right in the comfort of your home, and dramatically extend your growing season. Seedlings need light and warmth to germinate and grow, both needs that can be met inside your home. Herbs such as rosemary can keep producing for years to come, and by bringing them inside you not only extend their lifespan but your access to fresh ingredients as well. Who wouldn't love to have access to fresh herbs year round even when there is a blanket of snow outside?
Now that we understand what overwintering is, let's cover how to do it. One of the most important parts of overwintering plants is preparing them for their stay indoors. In order to do this, we need to first gather some supplies. You will need a trowel, shovel pruners, gloves, pots and soil. Make sure to double check which type of soil best suits your specific plant’s needs. For example, cactus and succulents, african violets, and orchids all require special soil for them to grow properly and thrive. Once you have your supplies gathered, you are ready to start prepping your plants.
Before repotting or transplanting your plants into new pots, we must first do a thorough check for insects and disease. The last thing we want is to bring in a plant with insects that causes the rest of the plants in your home to become infected as well. Insects love to hide underneath leaves and in the soil, so be sure to do a deep check and replace any affected soil and treat insects with some insecticidal soap. Trim and prune any parts of your plant that have signs of disease, are rotten, or any parts that are dry and crispy. Once this health check is complete, you are ready to transplant your plants into their new pots and refresh the soil. Pick any style of pot you like, while making sure it is large enough for the plant that will be living in it. Pick decorative or simple pots that blend or compliment your home's decor. Not only will these plants be safe inside your home, they will also add to its aesthetic and decor as well!
Now that your plants are in their new pots, you are ready to bring them inside. Caring for your plants indoors during the winter months will look slightly different compared to caring for them outdoors when it's warm. One of the most important decisions is where to place your plants. Most plants thrive and love a bright sunny window, which is the best place to put your normally outdoor plants. Find a window in your home that lets in lots of light, while making sure not to let the plant’s leaves touch the glass, because the cold glass can harm the tender leaves. If you don't have a bright window in your home, or it's not big enough for all of your plants to enjoy, there is a great easy solution. LED grow lights are simple to set up, are sleek and blend with decor, and allow you to keep plants anywhere in your home! Set up a grow light over your overwintering plants and they will have all of their light needs met and supported.
You will continue to water your plants throughout the winter months indoors. Some perennials will require less water, while houseplants may be their normally thirsty selves. To prevent water damages in your furniture and floors from the pot’s drain holes, we recommend getting saucers to place underneath the pots to catch any excess water before it hits your furniture. Winter months can be notoriously dry both inside and out, so humidity levels will need some human interference. Keep your plants and their moisture needs happy by misting them once or twice a week. If you would like a more decorative option to maintain humidity levels, you can fill a tray with pebbles to set your plants on and fill the tray with water to help naturally create humidity.
Plants have growth cycles that are seasonal, and some plants such as houseplants and perennials don't put out much new growth during the winter times. This means that you get to take a break from fertilizing while overwintering your plants. You won't have to get the fertilizer back out until spring time, which is when you can go back to your normal fertilizing routine. Much like soil, different plants like cactus, succulents, African violets and orchids need their own special type of fertilizer to keep your plants supported and healthy.
Once the cold dark days of winter are over it will be time to move your beloved plants back outside after getting to enjoy them in your home during the colder months. It is important to know when it is safe to place them back outside, so you can avoid a surprise freeze from killing all of the plants you worked so hard to protect. A good rule of thumb is to know your last frost date, this will depend on where you live and what growing zone you are in. The safest bet is to wait four to six weeks after your expected last frost date, to ensure no surprise freezes will damage your plants.
When you choose to overwinter your plants, you save the plants you love and save money by not having to replace them every spring. By turning your home into a temporary greenhouse, you are maintaining all of your plant’s needs while turning your home into a beautiful oasis. Worried about mixing your plants with holiday decor? You can decorate your plants with festive signs, tie ribbons or fabric around their pots, and incorporate holiday figurines amongst the foliage. You will love having all of your favorite plants in your home, and they will love staying warm and out of the harsh winter elements. For best results, we recommend LED grow lights to support your plants and ensure that all of their light needs are met. The keys to thriving plants in the winter are light, warmth, being pest free, and water; which can all be achieved from the comfort of your warm and cozy home.