Moving plants from outdoors in requires some care.

Moving plants from outdoors to inside the house requires some care.

SKIPPACK PA – As colder weather approaches and garden activity shifts from outside to in, plant experts at the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension office of Penn State remind gardeners that houseplants on patios or beneath trees now need to be brought back indoors.

That also means gardeners may have to simulate an outside environment for their beloved plants.

Cooperative Extension, located at 1015 Bridge Rd., Collegeville PA (2 miles south of Skippack on PA Route 113), offer these suggestions:

Adjust light levels through the use of plant lights, fluorescent lighting fixtures, or moving plants closer to a light source.

Solve dryness problems. Homes in the winter are very dry, causing leaves to brown along the edges and wither. Alleviate this problem through the use of a humidity tray.  Place pebbles or small stones on the bottom of a plant tray and add water.  Place the plant on top of the pebbles, making sure that they are not sitting in water.  As the water evaporates it adds moisture to the leaves.  This can also be achieved with a humidifier for a larger grouping of plants.

Eliminate parasites. Houseplants that have summered outdoors must be carefully screened for any hitchhikers.  A stream of water will knock off most insect pests. Isolate any plants that have summered outside from other houseplants, so as to not spread any insects to the rest of the houseplant population.

But if they’re persistent … Try to hand pick whatever spider mites, aphids, or scales that are visible, or use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to combat small infestations.  For larger problems, a houseplant insecticide may be needed; be sure to read and follow all label instructions.  Sometimes, such as with a scale infestation, the problem is so bad and the solution so time-consuming or toxic that it may be better to just say farewell to the houseplant.  Think of it as another reason to go plant shopping.

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