When Plants Move Inside, Keep the Pests Off

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
When Plants Move Inside, Keep the Pests Off

Due to the popularity of tropicals and the striking contribution they make to any vista, chances are you too have one or more in your garden, or on your deck or balcony.

The best part is, no matter where you live, with a little care, you’ll have them for years to come. Yet there’s nothing like a cold north wind and fast moving front in fall to signal it’s time to get those tender plants off the deck or out of the ground and safely indoors for the winter.

But here’s a word of caution that will serve you well; take a few precautionary steps before dragging them indoors. The approaching cold weather is also a signal to many overwintering pests to take cover. And many times, that includes the plants you bring indoors. If you do nothing in regards to pest control before moving the plants inside, you may find you have an active infestation on your hands in no time.
Mother Nature is pretty amazing when it comes to protecting all her creatures—even pests. So as they hunker down for winter, their expectation is for several months of cold weather and a long winters nap while tucked safely underneath a plants leaves, branches or bark. But when those creatures are inserted into a climate controlled environment of 72 degrees and no snow or freezing rain, they’re ready to party, which means eat, drink and make babies, all at the expense of your plants and former pest-free indoor environment.

But you can solve this problem with a few easy steps. Proactive efforts will reward you with plants that overwinter in peace, and your home will remain pest free all winter long.

Surprisingly, one of the most overlooked and readily available and effective solutions is right at your fingertips. It’s free, abundant, and natural: water! A good stiff spray of it over the entire plant will blast away just about any pests. The key is to give your plants a thorough washing, being sure to spray the underside of all the leaves, since this is where most bugs find safe haven.

However, if you find that water alone hasn’t done the trick, or if you find out you still have a problem after bringing your plants inside, a good line of defense that is eco-friendly too is insecticidal soap. Just be aware that although it’s effective, timing is everything. For insecticidal soap to work, it has to penetrate the tissue, which means soft-bodied pests; basically young insects or bugs in the larval stage or without a hard outer shell. Adult scales and beetle for example wouldn’t be a good choice for this control method.

But fear not. There’s one other solution that can work: horticultural oil. It is highly refined oil that essentially coats the body of pests, like scale, and suffocates them. Both horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can be readily found in garden centers and nurseries. And any time an insecticide is being sprayed, even organic and natural solutions, its best done outside. But assuming your plants are already indoors when you discover the problem, these products can be used safely there too. As always though, just be sure to follow the instructions printed on the label.

For managing any pest problems, the best defense to keeping them at bay is a good offense, and as an eco-friendly gardener, that means proactively managing pests before they become a bigger problem. It’s good to know that some simple, inexpensive, readily available and natural solutions are effective at managing just about any pest problem that might try to move inside for the winter along with your plants.