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How to Bring Tropical Plants Indoors

Hibiscus image by Cédric FROEHLICH from

Tropical plants can make an outdoor area look like Hawaii, even if you live in a climate zone that receives frost or snow in the winter. When you grow palm trees, hibiscus, orchids and many other types of tropical plants in containers, they thrive in outdoor environments as long as the weather stays mild. In fall, however, frost and colder temperatures can damage them, so you’ll need to find a new home for them before the mercury drops. A sunny window in any heated room will serve tropical plants well until spring, when you can move them back outdoors.

Bringing Tropical Plants Indoors for the Winter

Bring your tropical plants indoors before nighttime temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Create a space for your plants in a room that receives bright or filtered sunlight six to eight hours each day. If this is not possible, hang fluorescent shop lights or special grow lights in the area where you will keep your plants. Keep artificial lights on for about 16 hours each day.

Clean up your plants before you move them indoors to make certain they don’t have any insects. Spray them with a sharp stream of water to wash off dust and insects. Remove any fallen leaves or other debris from the potting soil and check for slugs, snails and borer beetles around the base of the plant.

Drench your plant thoroughly before you move it to remove salts from the soil that can accumulate in potted plants. Allow it to dry out before you attempt to move it, especially if it’s in a large pot.

Prepare your indoor area before you move your plant indoors by setting a plant saucer on the floor to catch water and protect carpeting and wood floors. Spread a layer of small pebbles in the saucer to keep the plant’s roots out of standing water and also to give it humidity that it needs in the warm, dry indoor environment.

Move your clean plant indoors and set it on the pebble-filled saucer. Do not fertilize your tropical plants in the winter, but continue to water them when the soil feels dry to the touch. In winter, they might need water once every two weeks--check the soil moisture with your finger and water your plant when the soil feels dry 2 inches deep.

Spray your tropical plants with a fine mist of water every day when they’re indoors to maintain the humidity they need.


Wash your window or windows in the room where you will be moving your tropical plant before you bring it indoors.

Before you move your plant indoors, fall is a good time to repot it and prune it.

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