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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

It is time to start acclimating your plants to the indoors

STILLWATER, Okla. – While many gardeners have flower beds full of colorful blooms throughout the summer, other gardeners prefer to populate their outdoor space with pots of various plants.

However, with the fall season just around the corner, gardening enthusiasts who want to keep those blooms going need to start acclimating their plants to the indoors, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist.

“We’re still experiencing summer-like temperatures, but it won’t be long until those plants will need to be indoors full time,” Hillock said. “Don’t simply just take the plants inside from the patio and call it good. Plant stress may occur when plants are exposed to sudden changes in temperature, light and humidity. It’s likely you’re still running your air conditioner, so there could be as much as 20 degrees’ difference in the outdoor and indoor temperatures, so a transition period is important.”

Light levels inside the home are much lower compared to the bright sunlight outside. To help your plants adjust to the lower light levels before moving them inside, gradually reduce the light levels to which they are exposed by placing them in shaded areas in your yard for a week or so. Then move the plants indoors for a day or two during the week. Gradually leave plants indoors longer. This will allow the plants to acclimate to the new environmental conditions.

Hillock said it is important to complete the transition period before that first cold snap arrives in order to avoid unnecessary cold damage.

“Be sure to check plants for insects while moving them from outdoor locations. Plants can serve as a taxi for garden pests when moving the plants inside and these nuisance pests can attack your other house plants,” he said.

Beetle bugs, slugs, pill bugs and centipedes can live in the soil around the base of the pot, so be sure to remove the plants from their pots when looking for insects. Also, check between the pot and the saucer. If you see insects, treat them with a labeled insecticide outdoors.

The foliage and stems also should be checked closely for pests. Aphids, mealy bugs and scales can move indoors, unseen on houseplants, where their populations can explode. If you find these insects, wash them from plants with a heavy stream of water or treat plants with an insecticidal soap. Always read product labels to make sure the soap is compatible with the plant you are treating. You may want to isolate treated plants from your other houseplants for a few weeks until you’ve determined the pests are under control.

“Houseplants can add such vibrant color and texture to a home during the winter months. Take some steps now to help ensure the plants are healthy and pest free and they’re sure to last throughout the winter and be ready to put outdoors again next spring,” Hillock said. 

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Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000