If you haven’t already, it is time to get those tender potted plants indoors. Take time in advance to prepare your plants for the trip indoors. Wipe all pots with a cloth dipped in a diluted Clorox solution (1 cup Clorox to 9 cups water). Be sure to check the bottom of the pots. This is where slugs and other little critters hide.
Clean these off. Then, you can trim back the plants. There are two reasons to do this. First, they won’t take up as much room. Second, by trimming the plant, you are forcing it to produce new leaves and shoots. These will develop under indoor conditions and therefore will not have to go through a period of adjusting to the new environment (acclimatization).
The old foliage produced outside under ideal growing conditions can react to the change in environment by turning yellow and falling off. Trimming the plant lessens the percentage of old foliage.
Obviously, you wouldn’t trim back those that flower during the winter like Christmas cactus. After you’ve trimmed the plants and before you bring them indoors.
To Control Fire ants, or Other ants, Nesting in Potted Plants that will be Brought Inside:
Use a 2.5% permethrin, like Bonide Eight Insect Control, like a pot drench. Dilute 2/3 fl. oz. in 1 gal. of water and apply according to a label. Apply outside and be sure that the pot has quit draining before bringing indoors.
To Control Infestations of Aphids, whiteflies, or Scale on Houseplants:
The ready-to-use pre-mix of 0.0015% cyfluthrin and 0.012% imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Rose & Flower Insect Killer) is a good broad-spectrum foliar spray that is labeled for use on houseplants. Move plants outdoors before treating and allow spray to dry before moving them back indoors.
To Control Scale, Whiteflies, or Mites with an Effective Organic Product:
Use one of the ready-to-use sprays containing pyrethrins and canola oil (Shultz markets one of these). Apply repeatedly according to label directions to control scale and other hard to control pests. Good coverage is critical to success.
For Systemic Control of Scale, Aphids, or Whiteflies
Apply Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control is one example) at a rate of 2 level teaspoons per 6-inch pot according to label directions. Apply outside, water in, and be sure that the pot has quit draining before bringing indoors.
It is preferable to locate your sun-loving plants near a south or west-facing window (according to your region). If you have a closed-in porch or sunroom that stays cool and receives good sunlight, this is ideal. Plants grow toward the light source to rotate the pots periodically to keep the plants growing straight.
Because my plants are not what I would call houseplants, I do not encourage them to grow during the winter by adding fertilizer. True houseplants or interior plants, as those in the trade call them, are plants that remain inside year-round and are part of the interior design. These are treated differently. All I want my frost-tender outdoor plants to do is make it through the winter in living condition, so I can haul them back outside when the weather warms next spring.