Bringing in houseplants

dannysmommySeptember 17, 2007

I put a lot of my houseplants out on my porch for summer. It was in the 40's last night. I know I can leave my Christmas cacti out until just before first frost. Should I start bringing in the others?

I've heard that you should spray them with soapy water before bringing them in. What kind of soap is used for this. I was planning to spray them with insecticide before bringing them in to avoid bringing in any critters (last year some earwigs hitched a ride into my house).

Should I just use insecticidal soap and kill 2 bugs with one stone? Thanks much!

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I use a solution of one quart water, one teaspoon dishwashing liquid, and one teaspoon cooking oil. This is pretty much as effective as anything you'd buy in the store, and cheaper. It kills pretty much all soft-bodied insects. I'd maybe do it once right before bringing them in, and then once a week for a couple of weeks. Make sure you spray the underside of the leaves as many pests prefer to hide there.

Another thing I recommend is getting some of those colored rocks that they sell for aquariums and covering the top of the soil with them. This serves as a "mulch" to keep water from evaporating and keeps certain insects from laying eggs in the soil. Plus, it's kind of attractive.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:26PM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)


I live in Baltimore and have pretty much the same forecast as you. It was predicted to be in the low 40s last night as well, so I brought in all except my christmas cacti and amaryllis yesterday.

I am not suggesting what to use, so take this for it is worth to you.:)

I always use Neem oil, according to package directions, as a preventative while my plants are summering outdoors. If I see a mealie or some other pest, I'll also use a spray of undiluted alcohol to kill those that I can see. If it's even a light infestation, I use a systemic insecticide, but only outdoors and with proper precautions. BATS(Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub)is my preferred brand. My plants have never had any ill effects from using any of these products.

I use Ivory dishsoap with my Neem oil, 1 tsp or slightly less, per gallon of water.

Whatever you decide to use, just be sure that you don't allow your plants to sit in the sun after you spray. Your plants will burn if you allow this to happen.

It's a lot of work trying to get plants debugged before the winter migration. Next year, start debugging at least one month prior to this time. This way, you'll have enough time to eradicate or at least gain control of any insect populations.

Oh yes, and I do leave my christmas cacti out until the first frost.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:58PM
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Danny, last Fri, they predicted temps would drop in the 30's..
What I did was start w/tender tropicals/perrenials,& C&S. I carry one plant in at a time..take directly to sink. Hose and rehose..You wouldn't believe the number of earwigs I drowned..Yuck.
The remaining outside plants are mostly trees, therefore I can't take to kitchen sink..these will be hosed down outside..after they're allowed to air dry, I spray w/Fish Emulsion, dish soap, crushed garlic and citrus rind. I made sure I had rind available just for this purpose..A little rubbing alcohol might benefit too, but so far, cross my fingers, plants haven't had mealy..The two insects I worry about are scale and mites..FE rids scale, and the other 3 ingredients should take care of the mites..I hope..LOL.
It's supposed to heat up again this wk, which will give me time to clean out my little gh..This way, when it's time to bring in for good, they'll have a nice, clean, warm place this winter..
Another thing, pick out a spot in the house where plant will overwinter. Clean the area, make room. This way, after you clean off plant/s, you'll be a step ahead of the game.
Good luck..Toni

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 3:46PM
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I had to start bringing some of mine in at night several weeks earlier than I wanted to - four baby raccoons discovered all these interesting things on the porch and started knocking things over one night. I brought in all the hanging ones last night because they were saying possible frost. I'll put the Christmas cacti and the jasmine back out this week - it's supposed to warm up some - but the others I'm going to start acclimating to indoors again.

Luckily there were no mealies or other nasties on anything other than my piggyback plant, although I did have to pull sunflowers out of a number of pots - that's what I get for having a busy birdfeeder on the porch too. :) My monstera is not happy about coming in, though - it's been "weeping" for three days now. (Can't say I blame the poor thing. I hate seeing winter coming, too.)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I brought in about 20 houseplants last Saturday as it was cold and rainy and I just had a feeling I better get them in before it got too cold... it has been in the 60's at night so far, I was wrong but I say better safe then sorry, of course then I had a TON of rearranging I had to do with all these plants in the middle of the living room.
All I do every year is spray every plant down with a garden house before bringing them in, so far 5 years later I have had no unwanted critters in my house, the only thing I have the problem with is frogs.. I always do my transplanting in the middle of Winter when I can't do any outdoor gardening, and I always find frogs hibernating in the pots, that is the main reason I don't use any pesticides, I am afraid of hurting them if they are in there.
My Monstera was one of the plants I brought in, I stuck him in my bathroom, so far he seems okay, I worry about that one.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:36PM
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Thanks, everyone for the great advice! I love the natural insecticide suggestions. Micke, thanks for mentioning the frogs! I have a whiskey barrel pond in front of my porch and tons of frogs have taken up residence there. It's been fun watching them all summer. I sure wouldn't want to hurt them by spraying anything toxic near them. I guess I'd better get busy finding room for these plants that have doubled or tripled in size over the summer. I'm just recovering from a bad back problem, so I have to take it slow and be careful. Hopefully I'll get em all in before it gets too cold.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:09AM
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