How to Bring in Outdoor Plants for the Winter


When body temperatures drop by as little as a degree or two, the human body shivers in an attempt to generate its own heat. Plants aren't as lucky. When temperatures drop below 45 degrees F, plants experience stress but are unable to do anything about it. They rely on you to provide a stress-free environment until warm weather returns in spring. Moving plants inside for the winter keeps them healthy and protects them from the damage of cold weather.

Step 1

Gradually move the plant to an area that receives less sunlight to acclimate it to lower light conditions. Place plants grown in full sun in a partially shaded areas for several days before moving them inside.

Step 2

Prepare a space in the home for over-wintering plants. Wash the windows to allow the maximum amount of light to reach the plants. During winter months, the sun lies low in the sky and light is limited. Clean windows increase the amount of light.

Step 3

Check your plants for any signs of insects. Look under leaves and along stems for chew marks, holes or tiny webs.Check drainage holes and soil for any signs of insects that may have crawled into the pot. Wash the plant with insecticide soap or treat with insecticide spray following the directions for application.

Step 4

Cut the plant back to manage size. Cuttting back to 3 to 4 inches from the soil level forces a flush of new growth and revitalizes overgrown plants.

Step 5

Check the roots of the plant. If the plants roots are tightly wound inside the pot, are visible on the surface of the soil or protrude from the drainage holes, re-pot in a plant pot 2 to 3 inches larger than the original pot.

Step 6

Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for houseplants following the recommended application rate.

Step 7

Water thoroughly until water runs free of the bottom of the pot. Place the plant in a sunny window.

Step 8

Water when soil is dry.


  • Univeristy of Vermont Extension: Bringing Houseplants Indoors for the Winter
  • Clemson Univeristy Extension: Indoor Plants - Moving Plants Indoors and Outdoors

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina Consumer Horticulture: Houseplants
Keywords: over-winter plants, winter plant care, winterize plants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.