Bringing Plants Indoors

Halton Master Gardener – Cathy Kavassalis

You may want to bring plants indoors for the winter. Unfortunately, we can easily bring pests and disease inside with these plants. There are some things you can do to reduce the potential problems.

First, inspect the pots and plants for pests or disease. Prune out dead or diseased stems. Wash the plant with water or an insecticidal soap solution (some plants are sensitive to soaps, so test a leaf if you are not sure). Lift the plant out of the pot to examine roots and look for activity in the soil. If bugs are present, rinse roots and or soak in an insecticidal soap solution. If reusing pots, wash them thoroughly and consider using a dilute bleach solution to clean them before repotting. Use sterile soil appropriate for your plant species. Water well and bring inside. (Watch for pest and disease outbreaks in the coming months. The sooner you catch them, the easier to manage … ).

Today, I chose to clean up a Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) and a variegated Never Never plant (Ctenanthe lubbersiana) to bring inside. I took some pictures to illustrate the process.

Get a big tub, insecticidal soap, pruners, soil, gloves, a root knife, etc.
I cleaned the soil from the roots and dunked the foliage in a bath.
Lift your plant out of the pot …
Hmm there are critters in there.
Clean your pot carefully.
Rinse, prune and repot

Both my plants had many bugs, slugs and spiders. So I prepared a big tub of water to which I added a tablespoon of concentrated insecticidal soap (about a 1% solution is desired). Use only plant-safe soaps, according to directions. Because my plants are large, I could not submerse them all at once, but needed to soak the tops and then the roots. As I looked at the soil of the fern, I saw that it was full of woodlice (e.g. pill bugs) and various other interesting little critters. So I needed to carefully wash the roots. I used a strong spray from my hose to remove most of the existing soil and most of the critters before dipping the plant back into my soap bath. Several more little bugs floated up. After few minutes of soaking, I rinsed the plants thoroughly and repotted with a tropical soil blend. Remember to select the right soil for your plants. Tamp down the soil and water well. Done for the day.

Some other instructions:

Bring plants indoors now, but leave the pests behind…/bring_plants_indoors_now_but…


Managing insects on indoor plants…/insects-indoor-plants

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close