BONNIE’S GARDEN – Fall Is Here! What Your Houseplants Need Now

Tomorrow, September 22, is the Autumnal Equinox. The Autumnal Equinox occurs when the sun is directly in line with the equator. On this day, day and night are of equal length.

From now until the Winter Solstice on December 21, the hours of dark will be longer than hours of daylight.  Right now, our day length is about 12 hours. On December 21, the Winter Solstice, the day length will only be about 9 and a half hours. By contrast, on the Summer Solstice, next June, our day length will be a little over 13 and three-quarter hours. (I miss summer already…)

And the Chore I’m Dreading is…

My houseplants will need to be brought in sometime during the next few weeks, so what I’ll do now is move all my sun-lovers to shadier spots outside so they can get used to the lower light levels they’ll encounter indoors. They’ll adjust much easier to less light while they’re still outside and have Mother Nature’s humidity and fresh breezes to “comfort” them.

I’ll do a visual check of all my plants to ensure I’m not bringing in any unwanted pests. Scale, mealybug, spider mites can become much worse indoors where there are no natural predators so treat them now, if necessary. Horticultural oils or Neem oils are good organic options.

To get rid of insects that may have taken up residence in the soil, add 4 tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of DAY-OLD water and drench the soil.  The reason we use day-old water is our tap water contains chlorine.  We want to let water stand overnight so the chlorine evaporates—that way we know we’re adding enough bleach to kill whatever is in the soil, but not so much that we damage the plant.

Avoid Repotting Now

Now is NOT a good time to repot, by the way. It’s hard enough for a plant to adjust to the hot, dry air and lower light of indoors without giving them a new pot to adjust to, as well.

The Biggest Challenge is…Light

Remember, when you bring your houseplants back inside, make sure you do anything you can to “up” the light levels—don’t just open blinds—RAISE blinds to let the maximum amount of sunlight in.

Plants are already disadvantaged by being inside. With days getting shorter and sunlight weaker, they’ll appreciate every bit of added light you can offer them. Consider augmenting with a grow-light if necessary.

One More Thing!

If you’ve been summering a Christmas cactus outside (and they bloom best if you do), leave it out until night temps fall into the low 40’s. Do not feed now as it may interfere with the bud set.

And if once you’ve moved everything back inside, you have a bare spot somewhere, we’ve got a great selection of plants to help fill it!

To read more from Bonnie, visit our blog

4 thoughts on “BONNIE’S GARDEN – Fall Is Here! What Your Houseplants Need Now”

  1. My big, old Ming Aralia grew thick and bushy on the deck over the summer. I brought it and several small starts from it into the house when warned about possible frost. Now leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I keep looking for insects or disease without results. Any ideas?

    • I think you’re looking at shock from a huge change in environment. Indoors for the winter, aralias are going to want several hours of sunlight. They also LOVE humidity so a light misting of water every morning won’t hurt either. You’ve moved a plant from light and airy and humid to darker and dry, dry, dry. They HATE that! Next year, the first of September move your houseplants right up next to the house to allow them to get used to the change in light levels while they’re still outside. That will help.


    • Susan, a lot depends on how much sunlight you have. I have a south window so even citrus are easy indoors with the right light. Other sun-loving easy indoor plants would be most cacti and succulents. If you have lower light, then philodendren, snake plants, dracaenas, Chinese evergreens are all fairly easy. Why don’t you come in and let us help you select the right plant for your location?

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