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COLUMN: Bring the garden indoors

Rosanne LoParco
Sentinel columnist
Posted 10/2/22

For the gardener this time of the year is bittersweet. So why not bring your garden indoors to enjoy?

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COLUMN: Bring the garden indoors


For the gardener this time of the year is bittersweet. So why not bring your garden indoors to enjoy?

You can keep growing impatiens, geranium, wax begonia, coleus and other plants indoors. If you have, a sun-filled room, tropical hibiscus, mandevilla, jasmine or ferns can thrive indoors over winter; and the added benefit is to bring them back outside next season.

Tropical plants

Plants such as ferns, palms, tropical hibiscus, mandevilla, ficus and other houseplants are popular as outdoor plants. However, they obviously won’t survive our winters staying outside.

These plants are very sensitive; temperatures less than 50 degrees F. will cause plants to turn yellow and drop leaves. Plan to bring tropical plants indoors when night temperatures regularly drop below 50 degrees F. Larger plants should be cut back. Consider repotting in fresh potting soil. Inspect plants carefully for any insect problems.

A mild infestation of insects will explode indoors once the outdoor predators that feed on them are no longer there. If plants can handle a gentle wash from the garden hose, hose them down, making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves.

A gentle bath with insecticidal soap will help keep pest populations under control.


These plants can be brought indoors two different ways. If they are potted, you can bring them indoors as is; however, they will need a great deal of light and some humidity. Consider saving the tubers instead.

Similar to saving dahlias, once frost has killed the foliage, cut the plant back and dig out the tubers. Clean off the soil and store the tubers in a cool place. Repot them in late February.

The potted plants can then be placed in a warm, bright location until it is safe to bring them back outdoors.

Favorite annuals

Many of your potted plants can come indoors for winter. Coleus, geranium, begonias, dusty miller, or fuchsia to name a few can overwinter in a bright indoor location. You can also consider starting new plants by taking cuttings. Coleus or impatiens are easy to root simply by placing cuttings in a vase or glass of water; once you see roots, pot them up and enjoy indoors in a sunny location. Even tropical vines such as sweet potato vine can be overwintered indoors.


Parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil and other herbs can also be overwintered indoors, provided they get the proper light. Herbs will need as much light as possible (southern window exposure is best); grow lights can be used to supplement light levels.

Herbs like indoor room temperature of at least 65 to 70 degrees F and a little cooler at night. Basil can be tricky; basil does not like any temperatures below 50 degrees F. Don’t expect herbs to grow the same as they would outdoors. They won’t grow as fast inside as they would outside and they may drop leaves. With a little care, however, you can have fresh herbs to cook with all winter.

Other tips

To help any plant brought indoors, move them to a porch, patio or garage for a week or so to help them adjust to lower light levels. Cut back on watering before bringing them in the house. Trim most varieties back by a third. Low humidity levels can be raised by adding a humidifier, misting the plants, or placing pots on a tray filled with pebbles and water. If you plan on returning the plants to the garden in the spring, prune them back in late winter so they’ll develop new shoots.

Keep in mind that plants brought indoors will not grow as quickly as they would outdoors and some don’t flower as well either. It’s normal for them to drop their leaves due to indoor versus outdoor lighting. With a little care, plants will be ready for next year’s outdoor garden.

For more information about gardening, visit our CCE website at Home and garden questions can be emailed to or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then Ext 333. Leave your question, name and phone number. Questions are answered weekdays, 8am to 4 pm.


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