Can You Bring Outdoor Plants Inside to Survive the Winter?

With the temperature outside rising, your plants are in danger of dying in the frost. Don’t leave your plants to die outside and let it in before the first snow falls. If you have yet sheltered your outdoor plants from the cold winter snow, you can still bring it inside safely or take necessary measures to protect it outdoors.

When to bring in plants

Ideally, you should be done moving your critical outdoor plants indoors at least two weeks prior to the first frost. You can keep updated with the local weather news to ensure you have enough time to bring your plants indoors. Check the temperature outside especially during the night. Many plants do not like temperature 50 degrees and below.

Some plants like hardy vegetables, coneflowers, the Siberian Iris, pansies, and lilies of the valley can survive the frost. However, most plants will not survive the frost. It is crucial to bring in healthy plants to maintain them indoors away from the harsh elements. Plants can also liven up your home in the cold and dreary winter time.

Before you bring outdoor plants indoors

The first thing you should do before you turn your home into a greenhouse of sorts is to ensure you have adequate space for it. You will need lots of spots where your plants can get a good deal of natural sunlight as well as proper air circulation. Keep your plants away from spots prone to draft such as vents and heaters as well as windows and doors that are not airtight.

Also, be sure to check that the plants are healthy before you bring them indoors. Plants that are dying should no longer be rescued for the winter time. Be sure your plants are pest-free before you bring them in. You wouldn’t want to call pest control services over the winter break. Be careful to debug the flowers and leaves, especially on the underside.

Debugging plants before bringing indoors

You can remove aphids, spider plants, and other pests by washing the plant over with a garden hose and drying it before bringing it in. In addition, check the soil for pest infestation as well. Some plants are prone to slugs and may also attract ants and worms. Some pests are found on the surface while you may have to dig deep into the roots to spot other pests. In other cases, you may need to completely remove the plant from their original soil and repot the plant in new soil.

You may also opt to quarantine plants which you suspect carry pests somewhere in them. You may keep them separate from your other houseplants to prevent the pests from spreading out and ruining the other plants.

Easing the transition

When moving plants that are accustomed to the climate of the great outdoors, you will need to acclimate them first to the kind of habitat they will have temporarily for the winter season. Moving outdoor plants indoors too quickly can cause your plants to go in shock. This will result in the plant wilting, the leaves falling, and brown spots to appear. 

It is best to transition the plants indoors during night time. Also, do not wait before it is freezing cold outside before bringing the plants inside. Doing so can cause a fast drop in the temperature of the plant. Keep the plants outside at daytime so they can continue to receive sunlight during the day. Acclimate the plants over a period of two weeks to ensure survivability in the winter time.

Indoor care of outdoor plants

Once you have completed the gradual transition of outdoor plants to the indoor setting, you need to learn to care for them. Indoors, your outdoor plants can survive with less water. Plants tend to grow slower over the winter time. Some plants even go dormant during the cooler months. Besides, overwatering can cause the roots of the plants to rot.

Be wary of the way you water your plants. Give your plants time to absorb the water by watering at a slow pace. Check to see if the plant needs more water before watering it. If the topsoil is dry, you can water the plant. Also, ensure the plants are placed in well-draining soil. The pots should not hold water to avoid root rot.

Also, since your plants won’t be getting as much sun indoors as they did outdoors, you may supplement their surroundings with artificial grow lights. Avoid using plenty of bright LED lighting which can cause more harm than good to your plants. It is crucial to the survivability of most plants to provide it with as much natural light as possible. Position the plants in a sunny place, but ensure the plants are not exposed to the strong afternoon sun.

What to do with plants you can’t accommodate

Due to limited indoor space, you may not protect all outdoor plant in the warmth of your home. Even if you can accommodate them in regards to floor space, you will still need to exert more effort to ensure all plants receive sufficient natural lighting during the day. In some cases, the best strategy to preserve your outdoor plants is to maintain cuttings of the plants instead.

You can grow the cuttings indoors over the winter and plant them outdoors when the weather improves. Also, cuttings can be easier to transition indoors than big plants. With perennial plants, you can force the perennials to go into dormancy. These plants can be kept in the garage in temperatures between 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Tulips and daffodil bulbs are some flowers you can force into dormancy to survive the winter. Plants in dormant state require little water and light to survive the winter.

A few reminders

Be aware that bringing outdoor plants into your home will require maintenance. You will need to ensure the plants are pest-free, receive adequate but not intense light, and are watered twice a week but not overwatered. Once the temperature outside rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you can slowly transition the plants back outdoors and transplant the cuttings you made.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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