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How to Winterize Tropical Plants in a Northern Environment

By Kathryn O'Donnell ; Updated September 21, 2017

Winterizing tropical plants in a northern environment requires you to focus on acclimation. Winterize tropical plants in a northern environment with help from an experienced horticulturist in this free video clip.


Hi, I'm Kathryn O’Donnell, entrepreneur and horticulturist from Botanicus Interior Landscaping. How do you winterize tropical plants in a northern environment? There are so many beautiful tropical plants that we can use in our landscape, and our porch and patio, and our general house plants and indoor plants that we take out for the summer. So the key is the acclimatization. When the plants are outside, I recommend you put them in partial sun or shade under a tree, under an awning or a porch. That way the plant doesn't grow in high light, and the acclimatization process when you bring them in in the fall is less traumatic to the foliage. When you do bring them in, it is fall. The days are shortening, and there are more cloudy days. So the light they will get is much less than it got in the summer. It is not unusual for the plants to lose as much as half of their old foliage. The keys are put them in the sunniest, warmest spot you can in your house inside. An east, west or south window is ideal, and let them dry. The amount of light and the amount of day length they had in the spring and summer months is very diminished to less than half in the fall and winter. So when you bring them in, water them thoroughly, and don't let them get watered again until they're good and dry. The other key is making sure you're not bringing in any critters. Easily plants can get mites, aphids or other insects while outside. They naturally grow with the trees and the bushes, but indoors they can be your enemy. So thoroughly wash all the plants with warm soapy water. Any antibacterial dish washing soap will do. Soap them with the soap and water solution, and then hose them or rinse them in a shower or a tub. That will assure you have a clean, healthy plant brought in, in the nice sunny window you're gonna put it in. Let it dry out, don't worry about those leaves coming off, it's the natural process in the lower light for the fall and winter, and then next spring you can bring it out and enjoy a sunny, tropical summer outside.


About the Author

Kathryn O’Donnell started creating new horticultural practices with Botanicus Interior Landscaping in 1971.