I’m having a really hard time doing my job today. Gail has set an all-moved-into-the-greenhouse deadline of October 15 and that means I need to get busy now digging up the tender plants and loading the cart with container plants and bringing them all inside. But those plants are still so beautiful outside that I can’t help but drag my feet and find everything else to do instead. But it must be done. If only there was a frost warning in the forecast, (thank the stars there isn’t!) I’m sure I’d move at steadily fast pace and feel justified in breaking up favorite combinations. But even though a lot of our tender plants can take the cold and even light frosts some of them, it’s less shocking to their little systems to come inside before we turn on the heat. The same goes for houseplants – especially any that won’t have a relatively humid greenhouse to live in over the winter. If you haven’t brought your plants in yet, consider doing it soon so that they can begin to acclimatize to life on the inside.
I have to admit that there is a part of me that likes this particular transition in one way and I’m even secretly glad to have the time to do it right. There’s almost nothing I love better than grooming plants and potting them up. Taking care of the container plants doesn’t even feel like work. Truth be told, I have a slightly perverse tendency to put that off to do something else that might feel more important simply because it is less enjoyable somehow. But potting up and grooming plants before or as they come in for the winter is really important no matter how Zen blissful. Take the time now to clean off dead leaves, prune and shape, weed, check for critters, and give your plants a mildly soapy bath if they’re like mine at home and covered in scale and sooty mold. And re-pot them now to save making a mess of scattered potting soil inside later. As for fertilizing, (a very rare treat for my plants at home, alas) the rule of thumb is to quit feeding by Halloween and resume when the days get appreciably longer triggering new a new growth cycle – usually February or March.
Have you moved your houseplants and and/or tender stock plants back inside yet? Do you have any tips to share?