Bringing the Garden Indoors
Now that fall has officially arrived, we're making plans to move some familiar faces from our gardens inside before the first frost. Many outdoor plants can overwinter indoors, with the added bonus of cheerful greenery around the house. Determine if your plants should move indoors by consulting a hardiness zone map, which shows geographic regions in which plants can tolerate the climate. Each zone reflects a minimum temperature; for example, a plant that is 'hardy to zone 8' can withstand temperatures dipping to 19F. Plants that require a warmer zone should be moved indoors before the first frost date. Above, we sketched a watercolor version of hardiness zones across the US. Find the official USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map here, and read on to find five tips for smoothly transitioning your garden indoors.
1. Wash your plants to remove insects or eggs that could multiply indoors. Before bringing plants inside, wash with a strong spray of water, then treat with insecticidal soap and let dry.
2. Choose a bright indoor area, such as a large window with southern exposure. In spaces with less natural light, a grow light can be added.
3. Humidify to keep plants healthy in forced heat. Use a whole house humidifier or mist daily. Set up humidity trays below each plant; fill a tray with pebbles and water that reaches to just below the top of the pebbles, which will evaporate and humidify the plants.
4. Avoid overwatering, keeping in mind that plants need less water in winter. Water moderately when the top 1-2” of soil is dry.
5. Delay fertilizing until a month before your plants can return outside—determine timing based on the last frost date in your region. Apply a half-strength solution of liquid, all-purpose fertilizer each week.