Overwintering plants indoors in our living room

Overwintering Plants Indoors in Chicago

Ben Papale Blog , Gardening Leave a Comment

It’s that time again! Faced with the impending Chicago winter, our less-than-hardy, potted plants need to be brought inside. Read this article for some tips on overwintering plants indoors.

It isn’t difficult, it just takes a little bit of love and time. We brought ours in over the past couple weeks. Typically, most potted plants prefer to be gradually acclimated to the indoors. This is easy to do. Start moving them inside for a couple hours each day, increasing the time they’re inside over two weeks.

We had issues with bugs the past few years. This year, as it came closer to the end of the season, we moved the potted plants from the ‘garden area’ onto our concrete sidewalk and steps. So far, we haven’t seen any bugs inside! If we do start to see bugs, we’ll spot treat with a mixture of water and orange peel oil. This works really well on controlling insects.

Depending on the particular plant, some can be allowed to go dormant (saving you lots of time and energy), while some need continued light and regular watering. When it comes to overwintering plants indoors, you should research your specific plant’s needs.. Keep in mind that, down to the specific variety, needs can change amongst a family of plants.

Typically, if the plant can survive dormancy, you want to move it to a cool, dry, dark location (such as a basement). The leaves will fall off over time. You may want to consider watering about once each month. Don’t fertilize at all. Once you’re ready to  start transitioning the plant back to the outdoors, you’ll want to gradually acclimate it to the outdoors (reverse of acclimating it to the indoors).

If your plant needs to be kept active through the winter, you should aim to place it in a location with good air circulation, natural light, and appropriate temperatures. It’s usually best to keep it away from vents if you have central heat. You may need to consider supplementing natural light with UV lights. Something like these are what we use. LEDs like this have an extremely minimal effect on your electricity bill. Also consider rotating the plants regularly so that they get even light. You should avoid fertilizing, and you’ll want to gradually acclimate these to the outdoors (reverse of acclimating to the indoors).

Short post on overwintering. There’s so much more to say about this topic, and you can find a plethora of information online. Feel free to contact us with any specific or general questions. Happy Urban Gardening!


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Ben Papale