Thursday, October 28, 2010

Question: Preparing for Winter

Hey everyone. My best friend asked me yesterday: "I was wondering when we should start taking in our plants to save them from the frost, and also what should we do to keep them from getting bugs over the winter?"

So, I will try to keep the first part quite general: When to take your plants inside all depends on where you live! In this area, I always remember Halloween as being the time that frost hits or that it is very cold out, so I have always taken my plants in before then. For those who live elsewhere, I suggest checking out the estimates on frost dates at That link will let you get an estimate on freeze dates by zip code. I would advise of course that these are loose estimates, so be aware for earlier frost as you get closer. Outside of the US, the hardiness zones change depending on what hemisphere you are in and where in relation you are to the equator. I suggest going to the website for your country's agricultural department as they should provide you with freezing information, if you have to worry about it at all.
The USA hardy zones

For keeping your plants pest free, there are many things to do. First of all, when keeping your plants free from bugs, fungus, etc. the best thing is PREVENTION. It's easier to prevent infestation than it is to treat it. When bringing in your plants from being outside all summer long, its safe to assume that there may be insects living on your plants (very normal actually). Usually I treat my plants with a general insecticidal soap when bringing them inside, which will decimate any aphids, mites, mealybugs, and possibly some scales.
Spider mites are tinier than the head of a pin and cause plant leaves to become a speckled yellow.

An aphid: they come in orange, green, brown, black; Sometimes they have wings.

Mealybugs look like little cotton puffs wedged in the "crotches" of your plant stems.

Brown soft scale.

After treating the plants and letting the soap dry, I usually do a quick visual check around the plant for any signs of more serious pest or fungal damage (holes bored in the stems, chewed leaves, wilting, leaf curling, etc.). If you find that you have a more serious pest or fungal problem, I would say that they require special attention, so feel free to message me with your pest issues.

The last common issue with plants indoors is fungus gnats. Sounds yummy, right? Fungus gnats show up in plants that are kept wet too much. So, while your plants are inside, make sure not to water them until the top layer of soil has dried out a bit. Fungus gnats lay their eggs in the top layers of the soil, so letting it dry out will usually kill them. But, like I said earlier, PREVENTION is the best way to keep the issue under control, so water the plants when they need it (rather than watering more often to be safe). Remember that overwatering can be just as bad for a plant as not watering at all!
Watch for these buggers flying around your plants!
If you have any questions on this post, feel free to send them to me!


  1. The aphid really looks quite attractive. Thanks for the info

  2. LIke Australia, the U.S. has a wide climatic range. Down here in Victoria the we have four definite seasons (although the local indigenous people say there a are 6 - I am going to investigate that). In the north of the country it is quite tropical. Luckily we don't have snowy winters. I am really enjoying your blog.

  3. Thanks Hazel! I was actually hoping to hear about the climates in your area! As I was discussing the climate zones in the US, I realized that I didn't know about any other places and their climate classifications. Glad you're enjoying the blog!