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How to Debug Plants for the Winter

By Eulalia Palomo ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many popular houseplants are tropicals that cannot survive a cold winter outdoors.
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In spring and summer, potted plants benefit from spending the warmer months outdoors. In the fall, most houseplants should be moved back inside before the temperatures drop much below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Houseplants that have enjoyed a summer outside often pick up insects that are likely to flourish when brought into an indoor area. Before bringing plants inside for the winter, carefully debug each one to avoid allowing an infestation in your house that can spread to other plants.

Carefully check the outside of each pot. Scrape away any soil that is clumped to the outside where insects might collect.

Fill a basin or bucket with lukewarm water. Place the pots into the water bath. The water should just cover the top of the pot. When soaking multiple pots, adjust the level under smaller pots with bricks or flat stones. Leave the pots to soak for 15 minutes.

Rinse the foliage of each plant with a gentle cool water spray. Remove the plants and place them in an empty sink or on a board to dry.

Mix 3 tbsp. of dish soap with 1 gallon of cool water and put the mixture in a spray bottle.

Inspect the foliage for aphids and other small insects. Spray the stalks and foliage of each plant with the soap and water solution. Wipe away aphids and other small insects with a cloth or paper towel. Be sure to spray the top and bottom of each leaf.

Rinse the foliage with a garden hose or sink sprayer two to three hours after applying the diluted soap mixture.

Check the plants two to tree days after applying the first soapy solution. If you see any aphids or other insects, reapply the soapy solution and then rinse the plants again.


Things You Will Need

  • Basin
  • Dish detergent
  • Spray bottle

About the Author


Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.