Transitioning Potted plants indoors

Asked October 7, 2016, 6:20 PM EDT

What is the best way to transition my plants indoors. Last fall when I brought them in I continued to have small flies hatching all winter. I have a fern, several Swedish Ivies, a Rosemary plant and some coleus that I would like to bring in, but don't want the bugs. Also most of my geranium plants die on me soon after I bring them in

Ramsey County Minnesota container gardening horticulture

1 Response

Before bringing your plants inside, it is a good idea to check them for unwanted hitchhikers. Look for aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, white flies and scales on the leaves or stems of the plants. To be really safe, you may want to repot plants in new soil, washing all the other soil off the roots where insects and their eggs may be hidden.

Several applications of insecticidal soap will control most insects. For the unseen insect eggs lurking below the foliage, you can apply a systemic insecticide drench while your plants are still outside. The insecticide will move up into the canopy of foliage just in time for hatching eggs. The juvenile insects will not be able to become established on a treated plant. You could also use a spray (while it is still outside). Read labels to see that the particular pest is listed on the label, as well as the plant you are using it on, and for any restrictions. If a plant is severely infected, dispose of it and start with a new plant.

One way to over-winter geraniums is to take cuttings and root them. Geranium stem cuttings, often called "slips," should be about four inches long. Take the slips from the tips of the healthiest stems. Remove the leaves on the bottom two inches of the cuttings. Place the cuttings in coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite or a well-drained potting soil two inches deep and water thoroughly. The cuttings will root faster if you dip the ends in rooting hormone powder. Place them in a north or east window or underneath artificial lights until rooted. This generally takes three to four weeks. After the cuttings have rooted, plant them in individual pots and put them in a well-lighted spot. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize lightly every four to six weeks once new growth appears.

Another option is to pot your best geraniums and bring them indoors for winter. Cut the plant back to about one-third its original height. Carefully dig up the plant, and pot it into a six-inch or larger container. Water thoroughly and put it near a sunny window.

An old method of over-wintering geraniums is to dig up the plants, shake excess soil from their roots, then hang them from your basement rafters. Most basements are too warm and dry now, but some people still have success with this method. If you try this, take the plants down occasionally and place the roots in water for several hours. Then, hang them back up. Do this several times over the winter to prevent them from drying out completely. Pot your geraniums in early spring, and put them in a sunny window until the danger of frost has passed.