More About Bringing Houseplants Indoors

My aglaeonema and others, newly relocated back inside for winter

I lecture on house plants a lot. And inevitably when I talk about the fact that a good portion of my house plant collection goes outside for the summer, I will get the question “but what about bugs?”

So I tell my cute little story (which really wasn’t cute at the time, but always leaves them laughing) about bringing in a baby bird. Believe me, once you have done that, you don’t care about a couple of spiders, or crickets or what have you. That’s what usually manages to sneak inside.

5 decadesBut even then, that’s not what they’re asking. They want to know about the usual house plant “critters:” aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites–the usual bad guys. But no–see, a summer outside usually will not only control any issues that I might have had from the previous spring, but it will wipe them out until mid-to-late winter. I won’t begin to see any recurring pests until growth starts up again next spring–usually around March or so.

Why is this? Outside those little house plant critters have a lot of predators to keep them in check. They usually completely destroy them for me. And any residual eggs won’t hatch until next springtime’s warmth tells them it is time to wake up.

So I don’t bother treating my plants with any sort of insecticides because it isn’t necessary. I will keep close watch on them as I water for the next few weeks just in case, but I have rarely found a problem in the fall. The plants are going to sleep this time of year. Any insects must be as well.

I have been growing house plants for the better part of 5 decades (yes, I started young). In my early years, I lost a lot to insects. I now know how to manage them before they multiply and destroy the whole collection.

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