Bringing outside in: preparing garden and deck plants for the winter indoors.

With the temperatures dropping into the lower 50's at night it is now time to prepare for bringing our deck and garden plants back into the home.Remember that these plants will go into shock if you do not make it a gradual move indoors. I do this by first pushing them up agaisnt the house under the covered over deck and taking them indoors over night and back out during the day. I increase the reduced natural light time gradually. The sudden shift in light and humidity can make them whither and die. It pays to take the time to acclimate them.  Before you do however, make sure you do not have any stowaways. Spider mites, gnats and aphids love to hitch a ride into your home by attaching themselves to the leaves. Thoroughly check out the undersides of the leaves which they prefer and by using a soapy solution in a gentle sprayer throughly drench. Smaller plants can actually be immersed into the solution for a few minutes. If you have a highly visible infestation try spraying it with Neem Oil. Neem Oil is made from a tree in India. It is safe on food according to the EPA and it is friendly to most plants. However, I do test it on  new plants I have never sprayed before by doing a test run on a small portion of the plant. If it doesn't show any damage within two days it is safe on that plant.  I also recommend you ask your local nursery specialist what they use as new products are always hitting the shelves.  

The soil in your pots is another area not to over look. Earwigs, slugs and fungus gnats are notorious culprits that sneak beneath the surface and find their way into your heated home then their population will explode into horror movie proportions! The movie Starship troopers comes to mind. The best way to deal with these diabolical dirt dwellers is to carefully pull the plant from the pot and do a quick search and destroy mission. For my larger plants this just isn't feasible and so I apply an insecticide to the top of the soil, which will permeate through the soil and annihilate any arthropods.

I like to prune my plants before bringing them into the house remembering to prune in equal proportion both the roots and foliage.  Give your plants their yearly check up before bringing them indoors and adding that touch of nature and colour in your home during the long snowy months ahead.

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