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Wed, Nov. 13

Moving your plants indoors for the winter season

Kale. (Ken Lain/Courtesy)

Kale. (Ken Lain/Courtesy)


Dwarf Orange Tree (Ken Lain/Courtesy)

Many plants are hardy enough to bloom right through winter. Garden centers are stocked full of these winter bloomers like kale, pansy, viola, snapdragons and more.

Frosty nights do not mean the end of your summer container plants filled with ferns, geraniums, begonias and impatiens. Although these do not survive the winter, they can be brought indoors as houseplants.

How do you decide which tender plants to bring indoors?

Although it’s tempting to move every plant indoors, it is impractical. You and the plants will fare much better if you run through the following checklist and keep only the plants that meet these criteria:

1) Keep only healthy plants. If something has been struggling all summer under the best of conditions, it is not going to improve indoors. Time to face the compost.

2) Never bring in a plant with pests or disease indoor. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll quarantine the plant until it’s been coaxed back into health. Problems spread quickly when plants are indoors. There are no natural predators of insects in the house, and indoor conditions can be ideal for a disease to spread.

3) Give dibs to your favorite plants and those you’ve been coddling for years, like a bay tree. Also, anything you’ve trained into a standard tree, sentimental favorites and expensive splurges if you have the room.

4) If the plant would look suitable as a houseplant, bring it in and use it. Many people have the light to successfully winter geraniums, fuchsia, begonias, even passion flower, in full bloom. It’s nice to have something blooming through winter. These snowbirds will be ready to start blooming outdoors early next spring.

5) You might consider bringing in smaller pepper or tomato plants. These are tropical perennials and, given enough light, continue to produce fruits indoor. Tomatoes need a large pot. You’ll have more success growing a compact, patio variety. Cherry tomatoes and small-fruited peppers like chilies or cherry varieties fruit easiest and produce higher yields indoor. Keep in mind that there are no insects or gentle breezes inside to pollinate your plants. That will be up to you.


Clean and pick off spent flowers and dead or damaged leaves. This is the time to cut back each plant that will winter with you so they fit in your home better.


Boston Fern (Ken Lain/Courtesy)

Spray the remaining foliage with ‘Triple Action’ to eliminate insects and kill spider eggs. You don’t want to bring these pests indoors, trust me.

Water the soil thoroughly to flush as many worms, grubs, gnats, earwigs and bugs out of the soil. Then apply ‘Systemic Granules’ to eliminate all remaining insects. You really don’t want worms crawling across the carpets.

Feed Indoor plants monthly with my specially formulated ‘Flower Power.’ This is especially true for plants brought from the outdoors.

Fun gardening classes are coming up that are sure to green up the thumbs of even novice gardeners. Classes are free and are held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 a.m. on the following Saturday mornings.

• Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m. — Top 10 Trees for Fall Planting — Privacy, shade, color, evergreen and blooms. We cover trees from every angle. With so many choices, picking the perfect tree can seem overwhelming, but not after this class. Our horticultural team will be on hand after the class to help with individual tree situations. All attendees will receive a free tree-planting guide.

• Oct. 26 at 9:30 a.m. — Fall ‘To-do’ list for a Healthy Yard — Get the most out of your landscape with this easy-to-use checklist of fall care. Bring the color out of your fall gardens, reduce bugs next spring or simply put your landscape to bed with these easy to use ideas.

Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or

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