Get them ready for indoors

The season, as I am preparing this column, is beginning to feel like autumn; days are getting shorter, leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs are starting to lose their green color, thus heading towards flaunting fall hues, mums are loaded with flower-buds, some already opened, and, of course, pumpkins, in all sorts of colors and shapes, can be seen everywhere - in their patches or on the shelves of stores - for making jack-o-lanterns or use as decorations.  

While the temperature fluctuations leave us a little uncertain as to what to expect, but one thing is for sure that cold weather is on the way, which means the houseplants that were allowed to vacation outside during summer months, need to be brought inside. In fact, for the next few weeks, we will be carrying our houseplants back and forth: in on a cool night when the temperature falls to 50 degrees or below and out again on a sunny day.

The reason for this routine “inside at night, outside during the day” at the beginning of fall is two-fold: first, houseplants can experience winter injury if left out when nights turn cool. Second, they need a gradual transition from outdoor life to indoor life. A plant that has been kept outside all summer long needs to acclimate to the indoor environment such as lesser light conditions. Also, moving in stages, first to a lighted garage, then to a suitable spot in the house, makes the change easy.

When brought inside, houseplants tend to drop some of their leaves, which is not something to worry about a lot, but unwanted bugs or creepy, crawly creatures that tag along can become a cause for a headache. Therefore, do give the houseplants a good shower before letting them in, or if necessary, treat accordingly. This may also be a good time to repot those that seem root-bound and prune as needed. Speaking of which, most of our jasmines are in dire need of both; which means I have my work cut out now. Frankly, I don’t mind doing both: pruning certainly makes the plants manageable in order for them to share our living space and, repotting will give them a head start for next summer.

When summer ends, whereas I do miss seeing potted plants on our patio, especially the ones that produce blooms, but in all fairness, they need a resting period, too. Besides, houseplants always give a warm feeling of having a garden inside during cold, wintery months, just when we need it.

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