Your herbs, flowering plants and vines spent the summer months beautifying your outdoor deck or patio. If you want to enjoy the fresh herbs all winter long, or would like an encore performance of the colorful blooms on your deck again next summer, you'll want to start thinking about bringing your plants inside before the nights get too cool.

basilSome herbs, like rosemary, oregano and thyme can winter over outdoors. If you have potted hibiscus or philodendrons, they too can survive the colder months with a little bit of indoor care. Here are some tips from the staff at Homestead Gardens to help your plants transition from the back porch to your living room:

* Plenty of sunlight - Tropicals like hibiscus love light, and the Chesapeake Bay region experiences much less daylight during the winter months than they're used to. Place your sun-loving plants in a room that receives five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. An alternative is to gradually decrease the light your plant receives on a daily basis. Start to introduce your plant to less light now, by moving it slowly into a more shaded area on the porch.

* Humidity - During the winter months the humidity levels drop, and this can strain house plants and tropicals. Bring a humidifier into the home to add a little moisture to the air. The Homestead Gardens staff also recommends giving your tropicals a shower! Place your palms and hibiscus plants in 10 inch pots directly in the shower. Run tepid water for a few minutes to give them a good soaking. If you have other types house plants, ask a staff member about specific watering needs.

* Check for bugs - Insects may have made your plants home over the summer. Carefully check for any insects or disease of the plant prior to bringing it inside. Larger insects like beetles are easily removed by hand. For aphids or spider mites, use Bonide Systemic Insect Control two weeks prior to bringing your plant inside. And if frost is threatening immediately, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, depending on the pest.

Not every plant will survive the transition from summer to winter, but by continuing the loving care you provided your plants during the summer months you may discover they'll flourish indoors and be ready for decorating your backyard again before you know it.


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