Tropical plants arrive in spring and adorn our porches and patios with colorful leaves and beautiful blooms all summer. Succulents set pretty in their place all summer, hardly needing any care. You fell in love with your plants and want a repeat performance next summer. Can you bring your plants indoors over winter?

Tradewinds Orange Tropical Hibiscus

Pat Sterbling, Naperville Annuals says yes, you can overwinter tropical and succulent plants. They have to be in the house before frost. Start the transition when the weather is consistently below 50 degrees.

First get them acclimated by bringing them in overnight then setting them back outside during the day for sunlight. Over the next week, lengthen the time you keep them in the house versus when they are outside.

Succulent Container

Succulent Container

“Make sure you cut off and remove any dead or brown leaves to prevent spider mites or white flies that prefer nesting there,” Pat reminds us. You can spray the plant with nontoxic insecticidal soap indoors. Keep an eye on it and repeat application if you still see mites or flies on the plant.

Next, drastically cut back the watering. Our homes are dry with less humidity from the furnace and air conditioning.Check dryness of soil with your fingertip before watering and let soil dry completely between waterings, typically about once a week. Be sure to keep indoor plants away from air flow vents.

You do not need to change the soil during transition. If you think you have bugs in the soil, you can spray the top of the soil with insecticidal soap. Moving indoors, changing the soil, repotting … each transition is a stress on the plant. The more transition you put the plant through, the less likely the success.

Pat suggests one step at a time. You can repot if needed once the plant is acclimated to its new environment. You will need potting mix if you are splitting a plant or repotting it. Use containers that drain well, keeping roots from sitting in water.

English Green Ivy

Understand that plants may drop some leaves or turn yellow when transitioning from outside to indoors. This does not mean they are dying. They most probably will not flower indoors.

“Try to mimic the environment indoors that the plant needed outdoors” says Pat. For instance, a shade plant like ivy will be fine in medium indirect light. If you have a succulent that received full sun, it will require a few hours of direct sunlight through the window.

Mixed Succulent Container

Tropical Hibiscus, Ficus, and Ferns can be moved indoors, as well as succulents. Trailing shade plants like Ivy and Tradescantia also transition well. Not every annual can be brought indoors. Annuals other than succulents that require full sun, such as petunias and marigolds, will not transition well indoors.

Once the weather warms up late spring and the temps are consistently in the 50s again, begin transitioning your plant back outdoors, little by little, spending more time in sunlight. Many succulents transition well into houseplants and can stay indoors. Mangave are a succulent hybrid of Agave and Manfreda. They require little maintenance yet grab your attention with their soft spines of interesting shapes and colors. Bring the outdoors inside to keep you company at your desk, couch, or kitchen table.

Snow Leopard Mangave