Seasonal Plant Migration


This is about as intense as it gets outside, but I have plants all over outside. They need to come in, and the sooner the better–because although the calendar and the temperatures may still say “summer,” the length of visible day (to use a meteorological term) is rapidly declining.

Why is that important? A couple of reasons. Just as it’s important not to put the plants outside in the spring and plunk them down into full sunlight because they’ll burn–even full sun plants can’t go from inside the house to outside because outdoor light is so much stronger–once I move these plants indoors, it will be much darker for them even if I move them into a bright, sunny south window.

It will also be much darker for me! All my nice, bright bay windows, which have been relatively open without plants all summer, will now be filled up again. But that can’t be helped. I don’t live in a climate where I can grow these tropical beauties outside all year round. Memorial Day to Labor Day is their summer vacation–and mine–most years.

The question I get most often when I lecture is what do I do–how do I prepare these plants to come inside? And the truth is that unless I know that a plant has a particular problem (for example, my citrus usually come outside in the spring with scale on them, so I might give them an extra hard spray with the hose before they come in–but they’ll soon be coated in scale again–I just know that and watch for it and try to wash them down regularly), I do absolutely nothing.

I will water the plant thoroughly outside and wash off the outside of the pot–that’s it. But truthfully- nature is far better at taking care of plant pests than we are, usually. That’s why my citrus do far better outside than in my house.

And yes, occasionally I will bring in a cricket–that’s about the worst of it–that I listen to the “cheep” for a few nights until it finds its way out or dies. But nothing terrible–no swarms of insects come in. Those seem to find a way to breed on their own, unrelated to anything, except, perhaps the age and the health of the plants.

And if you know to watch for the first signs, generally as the sun gets stronger in the early spring, you should be fine.

One thought on “Seasonal Plant Migration

  1. tonytomeo September 10, 2018 / 11:32 pm

    Even in our mild climate where many houseplants can live in sheltered spots outside, there is a big migration twice annually. I happen to have a few plants that I brought here from Southern California.

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