Most sun loving tropical plants have similar requirements during the late fall and winter months. They should all be brought inside before the temperature gets too cold from them. A frost could easy kill a tropical plant. Many of these plants would benefit from pruning at this time. Not only does pruning lessen the chance of insects remaining on the plant, it will improve your plants shape and density, as well as making smaller, therefore easier to keep in your home. For specific pruning methods, see our Pruning Your Tropical Plants guide.

Location, Location, Location

Choosing a location in your home is an important consideration. Plants will often suffer leaf drop if placed in a drafty location. Warm air blowing from a register or cold air from a door or window will almost always result in fewer leaves and poor growth.

Watering Schedule

Water is the most important factor in plant care. While many plants prefer to be kept moist during the hot summer months, fall and winter is a time to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering’s (for most plants). Because plant growth slows during this time, the plant requires less water. Excess water promotes root and stem rot. Remember: It is always easy to add water to dry soil, but it is very difficult to dry out a waterlogged root ball. Provided your pot has adequate drainage, a good rule of thumb is to allow the soil surface to dry slightly between thorough watering’s. IF the soil looks moist, resist the urge to water. As a general rule, the brighter/warmer the location, the more water a plant will require. Some plants, like ferns, enjoy higher humidity levels than are found inside the home and would benefit from occasional misting’s.

Proper Light

Flowering tropical plants generally require a bright location to promote healthy growth. A bright window (southern or western exposure) is usually sufficient from most varieties. Remember to rotate plants periodically to maintain even growth. Storing plants in darkened rooms or in the basement almost always results in poor plant performance. Many non-flowering ‘leafy’ plants do not require direct light to remain healthy indoors. If your home does not have any bright windows, a grow-light could be used to ensure your plants get enough light.

Fertilizing

Fertilizer requirements of most plants will decrease in the fall/winter months when growth slows and water requirements diminish. A monthly feeding of a liquid fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 should be enough for most plants. An application of slow release fertilizer at the beginning of the season would also be beneficial. Do not over feed your plants in the winter as it leads to weak growth. Increase fertilizing as spring arrives.

Managing Pests

Insect pests can be a problem from time to time on indoor plants. Plants should be sprayed with soapy water (5mL dish soap – not detergent – to 1 L of water) before they are brought inside for the winter. Get good coverage of the leaves (top and bottom) and remember to spray under the rim of the pot too! Move the plant to the bathtub to spray if there are any further outbreaks over the winter. Yellow sticky cards can also help you to monitor/trap pests.