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Killing Frost

Once again, I am pulling from the Home Depot Community archives for a time appropriate post. It is time to start thinking about bringing all your tender plants indoors.


Killing Frost

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Frost warning: Bring your tropical and tender plants inside

For me it is always a scramble; I know that the threat of frost can be at any time during the month of October here in New England is not until I hear the meteorologist say it out loud that “a killing frost is going to happen” do I move on getting my tender plants inside and that is not the best scenario, there are steps that should be taken well before the meteorologist prompts.

Best practice for the big plant move is a gradual move. In the northeast, the first frost is typically in mid to late October so steps should begin during the second week of October.

Step1: Examine and check tender and tropical plants you wish to save for insects and any tiny visitors that may have taken up residence in the plant.

Step 2: Cut back, trim, shape plants that need it; think of the space inside that will be the plants new home; plants never look as big as they are outside as they are once you bring them in, plants seem to expand inside the house, so trim them a week before going inside. You may want to root the cuttings depending on the plant, root in water or with a rooting hormone to create new plants.

Step 3: Tip the plant upside down holding the soil in place and give it a shake, let all loose and decaying leaves fall off and remove any leaves that may be stuck to the soil line.

Step 4: Carefully lift plant from pot and examine the soil, check for worms and larvae, if you find any creepy crawling pests in the soil set the plant on newspaper and allow the soil to dry for a day or two. Most subterranean creatures thrive in damp, dark places, so exposing the roots and soil to light and air will aid in their demise. The next step in the creepy crawly process will be to shake the soil from the roots and replant the plant in fresh potting mix, wait a day to water.

Step 5: I suggest spraying all outside plants that are coming in for the winter with insecticidal soap, make sure to spray the underside of the leaves and follow the instruction on the bottle.

Step6: If you are lucky enough to have a sheltered spot that will provide a more control temperature and also have light like a three season porch, back hall, or bright basement window bring your plants to that location for a few days before moving them directly into their winter home.

Step 7: Welcome your green friends inside! Have a plan create a space where light is at a premium, the brightest window in your house cannot duplicate the amount of light that the plants received outside even in the shade, so introduce them to your brightest location for a few weeks, once they have adapted to the inside and require less light you can move them again.

The air inside the house will be stagnant and dramatically drier for the plants, get on a watering routine, this may take some time to develop, it will be trial and error until you can get it worked out. Some plants may need water twice a week at first but the ultimate goal is for all the plants is to be "watered thoroughly", once a week….put it on the calendar. 


Plants may go into shock once they are inside, you will see that some plants will drop leaves and some leaves will turn yellow but do not despair the plant are just adjusting to the lack of light and the circulation of air that they were exposed to outside. Place plants in a location that is away from extreme drafts, not by a heater or by a door that will create hot or cold sways in temperatures, plant do not like that!

Check the plants for any sign of pests no matter how thorough the prep some insects or eggs may sneak inside.  

Basically all plants want to live no matter what their situation is, and most plants will struggle to survive even if their growing environment is not ideal, it is crazy how plants can adjust with just a little care.

We can all benefit from plants in the home, show a little attention and care to houseplants and they will return your efforts with air purification, and living beauty in home decor. Check out all the air purifying qualities that specific plants can provide, click this link. 

Bringing plants in from the outside is a huge adjustment for both you and the plant. It seems to me that for all of us who prize the garden, our plants and the time we spend outdoors start to go into a bit of a grey time right now anticipating the winter months, so anything that can be done to bring the outdoors in is a big help to make the winter months bright.

Maybe that is why I always wait until the last moment to move some of my plants inside, I do not want to surrender to the seasonal change even though I know it is inevitable…the words killing frost means just that…. so do not delay!

Bring life indoors, stay bright, and happy indoor gardening,


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Posted 2019-10-17T16:50:41+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS Maureen_HD_BOS