Transitioning Plants Indoors for Winter

Your annuals and houseplants have been thriving all summer long outdoors in the sun and humidity. In just a few short weeks, however, a killing October frost could easily decimate your entire plant population. But enjoying beautiful summer flowers and foliage doesn’t have to end when the first frost hit! Transitioning your potted plants indoors will encourage them to grow and flourish for many months to come.

Timing is Important

You should begin preparing your plants for their indoor homes when the nighttime temperatures drop to 50℉. Many houseplants are actually tropical plants and will not tolerate temperatures below 45-50℉.

Repot as Needed

If your plants are pot bound and require more room for root growth, you may need to repot them. Be sure to choose new pots 1-2” wider and deeper than the existing pots. Always use fresh soil when introducing your plants to their new pots. Select a soil mix specially formulated for your plant type, such as these organic Espoma soils:

Inspect for Disease and Pests

Carefully inspect each plant for insects or signs of disease. You will need to search the stalks, stems, leaves, flowers, and soil surface. Very sick plants should be discarded.

Even though they are exposed to a wide variety of harmful insects when outdoors, most plants thrive nevertheless. Birds and beneficial insects help keep the population of destructive pests under control. When your plants are brought indoors, however, these natural defenses against harmful insects are lost, which in turn provides a safe environment for harmful pests to reproduce and spread without hindrance. Your plants may quickly succumb to heavy, life-threatening infestations.

Clean and Treat for Bugs

Regardless of whether or not the presence of insects was noted, all plants should be thoroughly cleaned before their move indoors as an added precautionary measure. Use a garden hose to rinse off the stalks, stems and the top and bottom surfaces of the foliage. If pests were found in the plant inspection phase, wash as many off as possible with water before utilizing pesticides. Scrub the outside and bottom of each pot. Remove dead or yellowing foliage with pruners and eliminate fallen plant debris from the soil surface.

After washing and allowing the foliage to air dry, spray your plants with an organic insecticidal soap or neem oil. This will kill any remaining bugs. Both products are safe for use around children and pets.


Sudden changes in light, temperature, and humidity levels may shock your plants. When transitioning your plants indoors, it is best to do so gradually in order to minimize trauma. Begin by bringing your plants indoors at night and returning them outdoors during the day. Over the course of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time they spend indoors. Placing your plants near open windows during this transition period will help them acclimate to their new interior environment while still benefiting from the natural light, humidity, and breezes they are accustomed to while outside.

Once your plants are inside to stay, continue to ensure they are exposed to adequate natural light through clean windows. Avoid placing them near heating vents or areas exposed to chilling drafts of air.

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