If you’re new to gardening and live in Ontario, there’s a good chance you’ll need to keep your gardening gloves handy—even during the winter months!
If your garden contains certain types of plants – known as Tropicals – you’ll need to clear your schedule one Sunday during the Fall (before the first frost hits), and make some room in the living room! Like it or not, those lovely ferns and colourful hibiscus everyone was complimenting all summer are about to become your new roommates this winter!
Now before you begin to panic, we knew you’d be caught off guard. After all, gardening is just a pastime, right? No one told you this would be a year round responsibility! Which is why we’re here to ensure you that everything will be alright.
We’ve gone ahead and provided you clear, step-by-step instructions on how to care for your Tropical transplants during the cold winter months.
Caring for Tropical plants (indoors) during the winter
First things first… what exactly are Tropical plants?
“Tropicals” are plants that grow naturally in warmer (tropical) climates, such as those closer to the equator. Thanks to our warm spring and summer seasons here in Ontario, these plants can enjoy life in our gardens, but only until the temperature begins to drop and the frost approaches.
Some popular Tropicals include;
So, now that you know what tropicals are, you can identify which plants you need to bring indoors this Fall, and then simply follow the instructions below to successfully transplant them and care for the during the winter.
1. Prepare your plants for the move indoors
Before you bring your plants indoors, it’s important that you prepare them for what’s to come.
Here are the steps you should take to prepare your plants for the indoors:
Step 1: Inspect plants for insects at this time. Be very careful during this process, as bringing insects indoors could jeopardize other plants and growth that are in your home.
Step 2: Spray your plants with a homemade solution to further protect your plants from bringing insects inside. This solution should be 19 parts water and 1 part dish liquid.
Common insects on these plants can include:
- Aphids: These are green, black or yellow soft bodied insects that feed on growing tips of tender plant shoots.
- Mites: These are small arachnids that feed on the underside of leaves. Mites can yellow the leaves and, in advanced cases, you will see tiny webs.
- White Flies: These are white flying insects found on the undersides of leaves.
You can battle these insects with the water and soap mixture.
Step 3: Find a pot that is just slightly larger than the plant, and a touch larger than the pot that your plant is currently in. Using a pot that is too large can cause growth problems in your plant. Aim for an increase of approximately 1″- 3″.
2. Now, bring your Tropicals indoors!
Once you’ve found the ideal pot for your transplant from the outdoors to the indoors, you need to remove the plant from its current container.
Follow these steps as you are bringing your plants into your home:
Step 1: Remove the plan from the container, and use caution during this process. Remove any dead, rotted bits of root. Gently tease the roots to loosen, and ensure that you do not damage the roots. Be patient in this process.
Step 2: Fill your new container with potted soil and pack down slightly. Place the plant in the new container.
Step 3: Fill the sides of your pot with soil. Ensure it is snug, but not compacted. Wipe away excess soil. If you wish, you can add a transplant fertilizer.
Step 4: Let the soil settle after watering.
3. Caring for your Tropicals once you’ve brought them inside
Once your plants are indoors, it is important to care for them. Place them in an area with as much light as possible, and cut back flowering plants if they are overgrown.
During the Fall and Winter months, water once per week and fertilize once per month. As the nights get longer during the Spring, increase watering to twice per week.
Watering Tip: Never water a plant and let it sit in water that won’t drain. While watering, bring your plant to the sink and let it drip out, then place back on a saucer when you think the plant is watered thoroughly. Let the plant breathe during this process.
We love Tropical plants here at Van Dyk’s Greenhouses, and we hope you do, too!
As you are preparing your plants during the Winter months, follow these steps and your outdoors will be ready to come indoors as the weather gets colder.