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How to Transition Your Outdoor Plants Indoors

It’s not uncommon for gardeners to want to bring some of their plants indoors to enjoy them during the winter months. Knowing how to transition them to an indoor environment will help you successfully keep some of your favorite plants year after year.

Inspecting your plants

Before bringing any outdoor plants indoors, you’ll want to inspect your plants to clean them up. Trim back leggy or overgrown growth and remove any dead or yellowing leaves. Most insects can be removed from leaves and stems with a gentle shower but wiping them down can also remove any dust and debris that may have accumulated.

Repotting your plant is a good way to ensure pests are removed from the the soil as well. Remove most of the soil from the roots of the plant and clean out the existing pot and replace it with fresh soil if you are reusing it for your plant indoors. If you notice the plant is rootbound, now would be a good time to size up 1-2 inches in diameter from the current container.


Avoid moving plants directly from outdoor conditions to the indoors as this can stress them. Instead, gradually acclimate them by placing them in a shaded or partially shaded area for a few days.

Don’t be alarmed if your plant drops some leaves soon after being brought indoors. This is normal as they are getting used to their new environment.


Choosing The Right Location

Find a suitable indoor location with the right lighting conditions for each plant. Some may need bright, indirect light, while others prefer low light. You may need to adjust the placement of your plants to accommodate the reduced daylight hours during winter. Place them near bright, indirect light sources, such as a south or west-facing window. If natural light is limited, consider using artificial grow lights.

Maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Most houseplants prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) during the day and slightly cooler at night. Avoid placing plants too close to radiators, vents and heat sources as well as drafty doors and windows. Ensure good air circulation around your plants to prevent stagnant air and mold growth. If possible, open windows periodically on mild days to refresh the air. 

Indoor heating can also lower humidity levels. To maintain the humidity your plants need, group plants together and consider using a humidifier or setting your plants on a humidity tray using pebbles and water. You can mist plants occasionally, but avoid misting if you have textured-leaved plants as it can lead to mold.

Watering & Fertilizing

Adjust your watering schedule to accommodate the lower light and decreased humidity indoors. Be cautious not to overwater. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry before watering. Water thoroughly when you do, but make sure the pots have good drainage to avoid root rot.

Reduce or eliminate fertilizer during the winter months when plant growth naturally slows down. Give your plants a dose of slow-release fertilizer when you bring them indoors in the fall and resume regular fertilizing in the spring.

Winterizing Tubers & Rhizomes

Some tropical plants don’t overwinter well, but their roots can be stored for next spring. For example, Cannas grow from rhizomes and Colocasia grow from tubers. These plants can be overwinted by cutting the foliage back to a few inches above the soil and carefully digging up the rhizomes or tubers. Gently remove the excess soil and discard and damaged or diseased parts. 

Allow the tubers or rhizomes air dry for a few days to prevent rot. Place the tubers or rhizomes in a container filled with peat moss. Store the container in a cool, dark, and dry location with temperatures around 40-50°F. Basements or garages are good options. Ensure that the storage area remains frost-free and free from dramatic temperature fluctuations.

Check on them occasionally throughout winter to ensure they are not drying out or rotting. You can lightly mist the tubers or rhizomes if they start to wrinkle and get too dry. You can repot the tubers or rhizomes in fresh potting mix in the spring once the threat of frost has passed. Start watering and gradually reintroduce it to light to encourage new growth.