Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home: Reduce Stress on Plants Moving Indoors for Winter

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home: Reduce Stress on Plants Moving Indoors for Winter

Article excerpt

Labor Day has come and gone. Kids are back in school, and the weather is beginning to cool. I'm not sure I'm ready for fall. I love the fall colors and crisp mornings, and I look forward to apple cider and pumpkins. But I could use a few more weeks of summer -- wishful thinking.

I need to consider the houseplants, though. They have been on vacation all summer outside. It's time to prepare them to move indoors again.

Many of you place some, if not all, of your houseplants outside in the summer to give them a growth burst or to enhance outdoor living spaces. While outside, the plants acclimate to greater light intensity and higher humidity and temperatures. They most likely have experienced temperature fluctuations of 20 to 30 degrees in a day. Watering frequency and fertilization have increased. Plants have grown in size and vigor.

Bringing houseplants inside will change their environment. They'll experience much less light, and humidity and temperature fluctuations will be 10 degrees or less from day to night. Watering and food requirements drop off.

Basically, we're asking them to stop growing. They've been moving at break-neck speed, and we're putting a brick wall in front of them. Is it any wonder they experience stress and leaf drop when moved indoors?

There are several things that can help mitigate the stress on transitioning plants.

- First, move the plants to a shadier outdoor location for a couple of weeks. This will allow you to slow the watering and fertilizing, as well as get them used to lower light levels. Watch the temperature. Forty degrees is critical, and some tropical plants won't tolerate night-time temperatures below 50 degrees.

- Next, clean your windows inside and out. This will let more sunlight in. Your houseplants may still experience some yellowing or leaf drop from low light levels. Adding a fluorescent light over the plants will help.

- Inspect the leaves, stems and soil for pests and other insects. …

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