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Save money by wintering plants

Moving plants indoors to overwinter in my all season sunroom is an annual fall ritual.

I start in late August and work at this job over a period of two or three weeks. I start with those plants most susceptible to frost damage.

Space is usually at a premium indoors so I have learned that fewer large pots stuffed with several plants occupy less space than a whole bunch of plants potted individually. I like to save geraniums, several varieties of plectranthus (Swedish ivy), streptocarpella, dragon wing begonias as well as coleus.

I plant slips of trailing types of plectranthus and tradescantia, Pallida and Zebrina into hanging baskets in soilless mix and hang the baskets to save space. Slips of these plants root readily when inserted into damp soilless mix.

Geranium slips do not root reliably at this time of year and because many of my geraniums have sentimental value, I usually take pieces of the parent plants with some root attached. I cover the drainage holes in all containers with newspaper or old coffee filters.

I can usually fit four or five pieces into a six-inch pot. I plant several different varieties in the same pot, but I label them carefully. I often bring dragon wing begonias and streptocarpella indoors in the containers in which they are growing outdoors after I cut the plants back severely.

When I first begin moving plants indoors, I move all the houseplants (mainly cacti and succulents) that live full time in the sunroom outside while I give the room a good cleaning. I then spray with a bit of insecticide to kill any lurking insects.

I sprinkle soil insecticidal powder onto the soil of every pot that I take indoors. I work it into the soil and then water. It reduces the likelihood of insect infestations, including fungus gnats.

I also use an insecticidal soap solution to drench the soil of large bushy plants and place yellow sticky strips around the sunroom to catch any wayward bugs.

Houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, including my scented geraniums, Cuban oregano and Christmas cactus, are all checked for insects.

If any are present, I put the plant inside a garbage bag and spray a bit of insecticide into the bag and leave it closed for a couple of hours.

I move some plants indoors by simply taking slips. I swish them around in an insecticidal soap solution before taking them indoors.

These slips root without fail in water so I can keep a few vases of slips on hand. I pot them when I get my basement light garden set up later in the fall.

I try to position plants that demand a lot of light near the windows and relocate cacti that are entering a dormancy period to lower light locations for the winter.

Plants wintering for outdoor use go to spots with lower light levels be-cause my intention is to keep them alive during the winter so they can be used for another season outside.

Following correct practices and taking adequate precautions when moving plants indoors will result in fewer problems during the long winter.

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