Bringing Tender Plants Indoors

Bringing Tender Plants Indoors

Part of Ep. 205 Autumn Highlights

Stop insects from hitching a ride inside when you bring in your house plants at the end of the summer.  Laurie Weiss, Milwaukee County Extension horticulturist, talks about how to keep your house plants and tender perennials healthy.

Premiere date: Aug 31, 1994

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
If you haven't already, now is the time to start thinking about bringing in your house plants and tender perennials, before frost can injure or even kill them. If the temperatures are around 50 degrees, it's time. We've in the back yard of Laurie Weiss, Milwaukee County Extension horticulturist. And, Laurie, I leave all of my house plants outside most of the summer. They're happy and the bugs don't seem to be too much of a problem. But, I have to worry about bringing those bugs in, don't I.

Laurie:
You want to be careful about that. Outdoor insects aren't too much of a problem. They come and go from plant to plant and they also have natural predators that really keep their populations quite a bit lower. But, one or two insects that make it in with a house plant can make it a real epidemic inside.

Shelley:
So, they have no other choices.

Laurie:
That's right. That's their dinner and they want to eat.

Shelley:
What do I do then to prepare this to bring it inside safely?

Laurie:
What you want to do is check it over really carefully. Look for any obvious signs of insects. Hand pick them, if you can. And then, also, it might be a good idea to use a preventative spray. The insecticidal soap works really well on the soft-bodied insects. You want to spray both the upper surface, and also get a real good covering of the lower surface, as well. This works by contact, so you'll have to hit the insect to do any good.

Shelley:
So, it has to touch them. Can I use the insecticide soaps on all of my house plants?

Laurie:
Yes, you want to be a little careful with some of the succulents, however.

Shelley:
Like these.

Laurie:
Right, the reason is the waxy coating and some of the hairs that are on it can actually trap some of the soaps and cause some damage to the plant, as well. So, read the directions and use it cautiously.

Shelley:
So, if I think I have bugs on a plant like this, then what do I do?

Laurie:
Well, the first thing to do is make sure that you do have a problem, isolating it away. Putting it in a back room or perhaps in a basement with a nice light window nearby is a good way to give it time to see what you've got going. If you do have a bug infestation, go ahead and try first with some good strong spray of water and if that isn't good enough, then go a little stronger, but use it cautiously.

Shelley:
And then that might just knock the bugs right off.

Laurie:
Right.

Shelley:
All right, what about tender perennials that I have outside sitting in my ground? Well, like impatiens for example.

Laurie:
They're a nice one to bring indoors for a little bit of color, but the easiest way to do it is to take a cutting, about four, five inches of the stem. Go ahead and plunk it right into the water. Give it a good month or two for rooting. And from there, pot it up, get it in potting soil and give it a spot in a nice, sunny window.

Shelley:
A sunny window, now this is a shade lover.

Laurie:
Right. It's sort of surprising, but outdoors they like shade, it's not as hot. But indoors, behind a window where the light intensity's lower and also the winter sun is lower, so they like a little bit more light. The other thing you want to be careful for is, they really commonly get spider mites. So, right away after you take the cutting, you can use insecticidal spray or you can keep an eye on it later. If you do see any little webbing in the youngest growth, that's a sign that you might have spider mites. Go ahead and treat, then, with the insecticidal soap, as well.

Shelley:
Okay, well now, I notice that you've also got plants just in the ground in pots. I do that with my rosemary plant. How do you prepare those to bring inside?

Laurie:
Well, one that I put in the ground to give it a little more light and get it outdoors for the summer is the amaryllis. Putting it straight in a pot is a really easy way. You can just dig it out.

Shelley:
Sure.

Laurie:
And that's really easy. From there, go ahead and pull it out of the pot. And, look-- removing the soil that's there, loosen it, take any insects or worms that might be hanging in the pot. This will dry out, then, for about two months.

Shelley:
In my basement--

Laurie:
In the basement is a good spot. Keep an eye on it, but let it get nice and dry before you do re-pot it. After that time, go ahead and give it a new pot, new soil, and if you're lucky, you'll get a new bloom, as well, on that.

Shelley:
Wonderful. All right, what about the blooming geraniums behind you?

Laurie:
Geraniums are another one that people like to bring in. You can do that with cuttings like you do with the impatiens, but another nice way is to go ahead and dig up the plant, roots and all. Get in there. Shake off any extra soil that you might have on it. Then, remove the blossoms and put it in a paper bag.

Shelley:
Just right in the bag?

Laurie:
Right in the bag, no soil, no nothing. It's kind of magic. But, from there, you'll go ahead and put it in a basement keep it cool and dark. And, in March, you can pot that back up. Put roots into the soil. They'll be dry and the leaves will be all dead and dry as well, but they'll come back up. Give it a good amount of water and near a sunny window. By about May, you'll have a really nice new plant to put out in your garden.

Shelley:
That's one of the easiest ways I've ever heard.

Laurie:
Very simple.

Shelley:
This is great. All right, thanks, Laurie.

Laurie:
Thank you.

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