when do you bring your plants back inside?

the_farmers_wife(zone 5 Montana)September 4, 2008

I have a ficus and small philo on the front porch (to protect from the cat, different post : ) ) and I'm anticipating we aren't too far off from when they need to come back inside. It's much cooler this week, which has me wondering.

I imagine you folks don't wait until the day before predicted frost temperatures, do you? What's the predicted low temp that makes you think the plants should come back inside?

thanks!

Jenny

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plantladyco

I find that my house plants do best when I bring them in a few weeks before the furnace comes on.
Gives them time to adjust to the house before being blasted by heat.
A lot less leaf yellowing this way.
For me...that's about mid Sept.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Same for me. I try to bring them in when night temperatures are just beginning to dip consistently below 50 - 55*. Though there may not be evident damage, in many, if not most of our tropicals, photosynthesis stops or slows to a crawl at temperatures much below 55*. The return to normal photosynthesizing ability comes slowly, so the plant may never recover from the chill by the time the next cool night is upon it. Essentially, when tropicals are chilled, they call on battery power (stored energy reserves) that they would normally be able to call on to keep their systems orderly during the winter - so even though you cannot see it, if you allow it to remain outdoors too long it's very likely you would be causing the plant to enter the over-wintering period with a low battery due to an outdoor overstay.

Al

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jeannie7

'Course it depends on the plant but many can be left out to be just touched by frost.
Christmas Cactus is the one most suggested. Begonia should be allowed frost to kill the foliage before it is allowed to dry for a couple days before coming into storage.
Dahlia is not dug up until after a killing frost blackens the foliage.
Hibiscus is allowed to stay out of doors until temperatures
threaten to stay below 40º - 45º on a constant basis overnight.

Many plants, such as geranium (pelargonium) can be brought into a garage or shed at night, then back out to enjoy further sunny mild days.

Christmas Cactus, those that are given outdoor not-direct sunlight, can be allowed to be touched by near-frost temperatures to set buds.

While the weatherman might forecast frost, there are areas that can be relied on to be not touched by frost.
If you live close to a large body of water, then frost is much later than those areas inland.
Frost will not touch down if there is any kind of breeze.
Frost can be eliminated often by simple steps to protect plants. A picnic hamper, a garbage can, a bushell basket, thrown over a plant can protect against frost.
Mulching around the plant will keep the temperature of the soil up longer so that plants recently planted, can gain roots before winter sets in.
Sheets can be thrown over plants to prevent frost at night.
A simple spraying of water over the plant can often stop frost.
A potted plant can be put close to a building wall or amongst foundation plants to gain protection.
Potted plants can be buried to stand off frost.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 9:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

I agree to the previous reply. 50 degrees and they come back indoors. Here is a pic of my kitchen windowsill garden today, filled with cuttings of pink flowering Begonias. It's the only place I have indoors for plants. I hope they look this good all Winter. http://s65.photobucket.com/albums/h229/Bostoncrocus/?action=view&current=100_2914.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mickymae(zone 5)

quirkpod very nice shelf for rooting and plants ---really miss kitchen sink window .we don't have one .

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 11:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
curzon

I think many people lose sight of what kind of weather the tropics receive at night. Since most houseplants come from tropical environments you would think they only get temperatures that we would consider warm.
On the contrary, many South American, South African, Mediterranean and East Indian areas of the globe endures weather that get down into the thirties and in higher elevations into the twenties and teens.
Yet their plants come through unscathed.

Taking a plant indoors at above 50 degrees is nonsense, many can stand up to much lower nighttime temperatures.
Plants that thrive in the tropics are hardy to temperatures that fall below 50 very often.
Where the rain forest makes a heavy blanket of shade many plants also thrive without sunlight which is the main reason the temperatures are so high there.
Yet at night, the temperatures there fall well below 50 and the plants come through.

By treating a plant to not stand up to cool nights, you are only causing it to stay tender and the first unexpected low chill will probably cause it's death because it has not been subjected to the occasional chill.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"Taking a plant indoors at above 50 degrees is nonsense, many can stand up to much lower nighttime temperatures."

That is a rather strong statement, so lets take a second to examine it. It comes in two parts. The first part is very adamant that the assertion uphread (that it's best to bring tropicals in before night temps are consistently below 50-55*) is folly, but then you reverse course and say that only "many" can stand up to lower temps. Since you said MANY and not MOST, that means you must allow that MOST cannot. There is also much you haven't considered.

What I said about the fact that chill affects the photosynthesizing ability of most tropicals is true. "Stand up to" is a very subjective term. What does that mean? Does it mean that it might not KILL the plant? that there may not be immediate visible evidence of the reduced ability for the plant to make food? Just because you cannot see the immediate effects of chill does not mean it is not happening. If we stand a man in a corner and feed him nothing but ice cubes for 2 months, he'll look just fine for a while, too; but .......

You lose sight of the fact, or hadn't considered that those plants you refer to that survive temperatures at elevation in the tropics to the 30s, 20s, and teens are not usually the plants we grow as houseplants. Most of them have a survival mechanism called dormancy and NEED a period of chill, which we cannot offer if we grow them indoors.

The OP asked about Ficus and philodendron. There really should be no argument that these plants will be in decline if exposed to consistent chill much below 55*. It's not much of a leap to include the majority of common houseplants with them.

"By treating a plant to not stand up to cool nights, you are only causing it to stay tender and the first unexpected low chill will probably cause it's death because it has not been subjected to the occasional chill."

While it's possible to harden a tropical plant to chill by exposing it to gradually increasing cold temperatures, you cannot prevent the chill injury caused by sudden chill. Sudden chill can cause phenolic compounds to leak from cells at temperatures in the upper 40s. The symptoms are remarkably like those caused by actual freeze damage. Additionally, why would you ever WANT to harden a tropical to cold when you'll be bringing it indoors in a week or two; and more importantly, because we know that the plants photosynthesizing ability is being compromised, which absolutely means the plant is in decline - possibly worse - at low (below 50-55*) temps? I can't find the logic in it.

Al

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
monarae_gw(z4 IOWA)

Interesting thread - and timely too!
I am about to turn my daughters upstairs bedroom into a wintering over room for my plants.(that will teach her to grow up and move out! lol) There is a large south window, and a west window. I will be running a humidifier in there, along with a gentle fan. Goind to put down some sort of plastic canvas on the floor for easy clean up. Any other words of wisdom here? This will something new for me, so I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks!

MonaRae

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amccour

I had to bring in some plants early this year from some really sudden heatwaves in July. Anyway, I usually start bringing stuff in in mid to late September. Night temps are usually consistently in the low fifties then, and day temps are also tapering off by then too. It can occasionally get below 60 at night around this time of year where I live but most of my plants are on the porch, and the ones that aren't are containerized trees which don't go inside anyway, and some pineapples, which don't seem to be bothered by environmental conditions much.

By the way, I've heard S. Trifasciatas are pretty tolerant of lower temperatures and that prolonged periods of cold or drought are necessary to induce blooming. Anyone know anything about this?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 4:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arjadiejai(WNY z6)

If we stand a man in a corner and feed him nothing but ice cubes for 2 months, he'll look just fine for a while, too;

I want to hear more about this, I think it's exactly the touch my apartment needs. I have the ice cubes and can afford many more, but can I get the man at Lowe's or should I go for mail order?

Sorry for the total OT, but I couldn't resist :)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 5:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amccour

I'd go to the garden department at Lowe's and pick whoever's being the most abusive to the plants (overwatering them, knocking them over, packing them in tiny racks without any natural light. Stuff like that).

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

". . . but can I get the man at Lowe's or should I go for mail order?"

Either/or, but if you get a bad one, don't blame me . . . just feed him the ice cubes with a slingshot. He'll weaken or soon tire of your attention and slink off.

Al

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 10:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
the_farmers_wife(zone 5 Montana)

I don't mind going OT at all, especially when it's so amusing! The whole "man/icecube/slingshot" thing sounds like fun, but trouble, too. : )

The mention of Christmas Cactus reminded me that I needed to move mine to an area where it can "notice" the shortening of days.

So I think I'll bring the ficus and philo in tonight since the projected low is 45*, then out again for 2 more weeks with projected lows of 55*-ish. Actually, I think I'll examine them first for damage/bugs, just in case.

thanks!
Jenny

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

On a related note, I have about a dozen house plants outside that will need to come inside in a few weeks. It's the first year I've left them outside long term. Any advice? Do I need to worry about bugs or other hitch hikers?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

curzon, I never take my house plants outside. I have several that are twenty something years young. Just when shall I expect them to die from lack of exposure to an 'occasional chill'?

I'm just trying to plan ahead, after all.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 1:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
the_farmers_wife(zone 5 Montana)

Rhizo, you crack me up! You too, Al.

I had never taken my plants out before, I just had to leave these two out to protect them from the cat. So I can't really help with the bug question, whip, I just know I read somewhere (probably here) that it's a concern.

And since I'll have to perfect "anti-cat protections" over the winter, the plants will (probably) never go back out, thus their inability to handle the 'occasional chill' will never be an issue. No sleep lost.

On the other hand, I might consider moving the Chrismas cactus out to encourage budding as suggested above. No, too much trouble to monitor the weather down to projected frosts. I lost ferns out front this summer for failure to notice it wasn't raining anymore, oops. (I really need to stick with low maintenance plants!)

But I'll keep that in mind next year if it doesn't bloom this year.

Jenny

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 2:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hlily(z5 IL)

This is indeed an interesting thread and a timely one too as our temps are also projected to go into the 40's tonight. What I usually do is bring them all into the garage and line them up against the wall it shares with the house. I can move them out on warmer days and also the plants slowly gets used to the lack of light. I expect to bring them all fully indoors in the next couple of weeks. I am in zone 5a (Central Illinois). Hope this helps.
Hlily

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jeannie7

For honest interested readers if you have a Christmas Cactus that has been kept indoors, leave it there...don't take it out of doors. If it has been outside, out of direct light, let it stay outside until temperatures chill down to 40ish, then take it indoors to a sunny window and watch the buds explode in number. As the plant produces lots of bloom, if it is wished to delay bloom, remove it from the light, water it less and it will hold off the buds opening.
Keep it though in a cooler environment...nighttime temperatures as low as practical at this time of season.
Plants == those taken indoors from outside and houseplants that have been kept indoors always, appreciate low nighttime temperatures. Keep out of drafts and away from where air currents from doors that are constantly being opened and closed changing their environment too drastically.

If the plant has been kept in a room that is warmish...leave it there...don't remove it to a cooler room.
If it has been kept in a cool room, leave it there...don't remove it to a warm room.
C.C.'s are light sensitive and how they are brought along will often decide how much they bloom.

A Thanksgiving cactus is just one that has been brought forward to bloom in mid November. By pulling it back, one might delay it to have bloom at Christmas.
Many of these same plants bloom again at Easter.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 7:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ankraras(8/9AZ)

"Where the rain forest makes a heavy blanket of shade many plants also thrive without sunlight which is the main reason the temperatures are so
high there.
Yet at night, the temperatures there fall well below 50 and the plantscome through."

I echo your statement, lol. It works out best for my situation!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 6:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amccour

"Do I need to worry about bugs or other hitch hikers?"

I keep finding toads in my pots. And spiders. I thought I had spider mites but it looks like it was just regular spiders. Fun.

Anyway I guess the low tonight's going to be 49, so plants are going to be coming inside soon. Weird sudden cold snap, though, so I'll have to see what the night time temps are over the next couple of days. Last night the low was 61 or something.

I know they can generally handle temperatures into the high 30s, but for reasons al said, I don't want to expose them to that much longer than I really need to.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 1:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Some typical hitchhikers might be: ants, roaches, slugs, sow and/or pill bugs, spiders, worms and millipedes. Just to name a few. ;-)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mr_subjunctive

Amccour:

I had a Sansevieria trifasciata about ten years ago that spent the winter on a glassed-in but uninsulated porch (as did I personally -- long story), and although nighttime temperatures did get down into the high 30s semiregularly (it's amazing what you can get through when you're in your mid-20s and have enough blankets), it did okay, and in fact even flowered. That said, cold isn't required to get them to flower; none of the other Sansevieria flowers I've seen in the past few years have appeared after chilling the plant. We've had some flowers recently at work that showed up following an incredibly hot spell, in fact.

I also don't recommend going below about 50F/10C for Sansevierias unless you really, really have to: they may not say anything, but I don't think they like it. My growers' guide (which has been wrong before, granted) says cold damage looks like "large, water-soaked blotches," occurs to Sansevieria around 36-46F (2-8C), and takes one to four weeks to appear. Damage is also allegedly worse if the plant has been getting a lot of fertilizer.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 10:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
john_z(Z 7b Ga.)

I have a long list of the minimum temperatures that my plants will tolerate when they go outdoors. It's even in 5 degree incriments for someone compulsive like me. I bring the list out every year and pin it up, although I have it just about memorised after decades of doing it. For most of them, the ideal temps are between 68 - 86 F for photosynthesis and growth. It's those minimums that keep me doing the "in and out - in and out" craziness from the unpredictable temps in April and October here in Georgia.

LOL, I'm taking the second week off in October and plan to stop the decades of in-and-out craziness - and just bring them all in and set up my lighting systems in each room. Let me tell you - it is a major project, but I so love each one of them.

I didn't know until a nosey neighbour told me 2 months ago that she counted 67 potted plants in my yard. She looked at me in astonishment and thought I was quite peculiar. (I guess she doesn't work for a living to have the time to count). Ha, she didn't know about the 133 other plants I keep inside. I won't tell 'Mrs. Kravits'. Her husband Abner wouldn't care anyway. But where is Endora when I need her help?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
birdsnblooms

LOL John. Twitch your nose, perhaps Mrs, Kravits will disappear.
If that doesn't work, fold your arms together, blink your eyes, bow your head, and see if she's gone. Better yet, maybe you can blink spring back. lol.

Many plants will survive at temps as low as 40F, but it depends on other factors..Last week it rained, non-stop, from Thurs night until Sunday afternoon.. Night temps were in the 40's. The only plants that concerned me were succulents. Even though they're in well-draining soil, it was just too darn cold, and rain had flooded shelves. Normally, sux are one of the last plants to come inside for winter, but not this year.

I agree leaving Christmas Cactus outdoors until first frost promotes flowering. Same with Kalanchoes, Gardenias, Cycalmen and Azaleas. There's probably others but I can't recollect any at the moment.

Spiders are a huge, literal, problem this year. 98% of the plants that were brought in had either spiders and/or earwigs..Yuck! Each plant is hosed and rehosed, then pots are turned and hosed..and wiped.
Once indoors, they're taken to the sink or shower and hosed/showered again.. organic insecticide is then sprayed.
A dose of Fish Emulsion keeps scale away, and a last foliar feed, (after insecticide dries)

So, as long as rain isn't pouring 24/7, most plants will do fine in 40-50F temps..that is, unless you're like me, do not like working in cold temps, finish before those cold winds blow..Toni

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 6:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
john_z(Z 7b Ga.)

Hi hopeful author! My nose twitch was a dismal failure, but Aunt Clara said she well understood. And 'Mrs. Kravits' paid another visit just today, and do you know what made her disappear? I asked her if might help me bring in my 8 foot Pachypodium before the cold weather sets in. POOF. She disappeared. Ah, we can't underestimate those mortal tactics.

I've been looking at those minimum temperatures for tropical species, and keep in mind that they are given for plantings in the landscape. (Of course, for mounted epiphytes - that's another story). I usually add 10-20 degrees F because anything above the ground eventually takes on the average of the low and high temperatures. Container size and the potting media is another consideration, as well as moisture in the root zone.

And how many people know that a weather forecast is only good for about 1 to 3 days? The 5 to 7 day forecast is based on temperature averages from previous years. "Don't rely on it", a chief meteoroligist told me personally when I was in the TV studio.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 11:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Takes different kinds of weather to make me bring my plants in. The visits of Gustav and then Ike had a lot of plants here in danger of being blown to Texas! This is the first time I've begun to wonder how many hurricanes I want to experience. Most of them are back outside now--we won't have weather below 40 'til November probably. Many plants I know should go in have to stay out 'cause I just don't have any more room, but it's surprising how well they do--if it actually gets a little chilly I use frost blankets. I prefer the ones that are supposed to protect down to 24, tho' there's next to no chance it'll get that cold. Place looks like I've decorated for Hallowe'en when I do that!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Jeannie7 wrote:
"A Thanksgiving cactus is just one that has been brought forward to bloom in mid November. By pulling it back, one might delay it to have bloom at Christmas.
Many of these same plants bloom again at Easter."

Perhaps I misunderstood your statement, but Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving Cacti are different plants that bloom at different times.

That said, I agree about letting plants adapt to a natural chill. My jades and christmas cactus are still outside, with the nights dropping into the upper 40°'s. I think October 1st is a good day to bring plants in for my nor Cal zone 7.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tootswisc(z4/5Wi)

I have been bringing them in for the past week. But my breezeway will be full for a few more weeks anyway. It's been in the 80's here for the past few days-absolutely wonderful. I think I could have left most plants outside for a few more weeks. But I was able to downsize my collection with my plant sale/give away. I do not have any babies left in my house and no duplicate plants. I am really having fun placing one plant instead of several on shelves,end tables, window sills etc. So bringing my plants in has been a ball.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
steverz

Would you believe I have had my Selloum Philodendron plant for 22 long years? Yes. The (same plant.)
My friend gave me this Selloum Philodendron as my house-warming party gift back in September 1988.
Quite a few times in those 22 years...I've almost Killed my Philodendron by just being lazy and Not watering it. I'd go 4-5 weeks "without watering" this Philodendron. --> By me soaking my Selloum Philodendron plant in my sink in Miracle-Gro plant food, I guess my Philodendron does have 9-Lives after all :)
I have to say Selloum Philodendrons are very very hard to let die in my book. lol

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 9:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
meyermike_1micha(5)

TONIGHT!!!!

Here it has been in the 70's most of the month, and now 40 today and 30's tonight..Sheesh!

Mike

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike,
that's the standard swing for my part of the country...
my succulents have all seen 33°F this past week, with day-time highs betwixt 70°F and 80°F.
I left them outside, but I didn't water them a drop.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amccour

About twenty minutes ago.

Seriously it's May. Get warm.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dreamcatchers22_comcast_net

I have (had) a beautiful red christmas cactus until a few days ago. It was thriving beautifully on my enclosed front porch..It was flowering more than it ever had over the past 6 years. I made the mistake of forgetting to bring it in one night during very cold temps and the next morning all the leaves were lemp and hanging over the side of the pot...all but 2 or three blossoms were also limp and hanging. I surmise I killed it. I was so sad that I let this happen...now do I have any options? It does have a small section that doe not seem affected by the freeze. I live on the east coast and our temps are very cold right now.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 7:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Barb,

Just so you know, generally one starts a new post for a new question. Yes, it was related to when to bring in one's plants. But in this case it deserved its own post something like "Froze my Xmas Cactus - Help"

So your CC got too cold or semi-frozen? Sorry, have never known someone to have this happen. Hard to know if you can save your plant; you can sure try.

Bring it indoors, place it somewhere where it can warm up & get some bright indirect light. After a few days it should be easier to tell which parts are dead & which are not. Pls. do not water it, nor let it get chilled again. Watering now will almost guarantee killing it.

Just give it time & see what it does; could be part of it survives, I'd suggest giving it time & patience.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 8:32PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
It hursts so that my Pachira Aquatica "money tree" plant is hurting so
Hi all, love this site and I finally joined! I've read...
mobbsuit_beasley
"Heirloom" geraniums, coleus, impatiens etc.
perhaps this isn't exactly a houseplant question......
grimesel1993
March flowers 2015
Old thanksgiving cactus blooming later than normal. Hoya...
Grantgarden2 Zone 5a/b
Do I have natural original Chlorophytum comosum?
I have bought Chlorophytum comosum but I don't know...
dert17
Advice for my almost dead aglaonema
Please help me nurse this plant back. It was given...
Kelby Miller
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™