The harsh conditions and freezing soil temperatures of winter can ruin your container- and garden-grown plants. It is vitally important to prepare them for bringing indoors for a few months to keep them alive until the threat of frost has passed. Most annuals and tropical plants will not be able to survive the winter. Make a list and get them ready for winter dormancy.
Identify what plants can survive freezing conditions and what plants need to be brought indoors. Tender perennials, annuals and tropical plants are the most likely candidates for saving. Choose the plants that are healthy and free of disease, pests and damage. Lightly prune any damaged leaves or stems. Make sure you have enough containers with draining holes at the bottom and saucers.
Dig a few inches around each plant and lift up from the bottom. Avoid shaking the plant to remove soil, because you can harm its root system. Place them in a container filled with 1-part each of potting soil, sand and peat moss. Refrain from overfilling containers with plants. Give them enough room for air circulation. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants, but not touching the plants, and then set the containers next to your container grown plants.
Spray all of your plants in containers waiting to come in to remove pests. Spray with a homemade safe pesticide of 2 tbsp. nonantibacterial liquid soap and 1 qt. water. Apply the insecticide in the morning to avoid burning the plants' leaves. Place all of the containers in the brightest location in your lawn. Every few days move them to a shadier place to get them adjusted to low light conditions.
Reduce your watering, but do not allow for the soil to be completely dried out. Once you plants have adapted to full shade and night temperatures have reached to 45 degrees, it is time to bring them in a cool dry place in your home.
Place your plants in a location away from heaters or drafts. If you place container plants in the garage, wrap a blanket around their containers to insulate the soil. Water the containers when the top soil has dried out. Press your fingers in the first few inches of the container to feel if the soil is moist. Lift your container from the saucer and water at the base until your see water flow from the draining holes. Place back on a saucer filled with pebbles. Make sure that there isn't any water in the saucer touching the bottom of the container.
Dust your plants by spraying water on their leaves and lightly dry them. Wait for the ground to warm up to 60 degrees before transplanting your plants back into their flower beds.