It’s that time of the year to begin bringing plants inside. With winter frost on the horizon, avoid bringing unwanted bugs into the home with our plant expert tips.
How to Overwinter
Overwintering is a way to protect plants from harmful winter conditions. Protect plants by allowing them to go dormant in a garage or basement or continue to grow as houseplants.
Plants to overwinter include ferns, geraniums, coleus, impatiens, cacti, succulents, tropical hibiscus and more.
What to Watch For
Before bringing plants into the home, look for insects on plant material or within the soil. Make sure to isolate your plants before moving them next to other plants. This reduces the spread of insects and disease. Common bugs that overwinter on plants include spider mites, aphids and scale.
A close-up image of a red spider mite.
Spider mites are tiny red mites that live under leaves and suck sap. This causes yellow mottling on leaves. To remove spider mites, try neem oil, insecticide or organic sprays. Make sure to spray plants weekly to fully remove spider mites from the plant.
Aphids along a plant stem.
Aphids are tiny green-yellow pear-shaped insects that also feed on plant sap. They reproduce rapidly and leave behind a sticky honeydew, which sometimes develops into sooty mold. You can remove aphids by spraying soap and water, neem oil or a mixture of essential oils.
Pine needle scales feeding on needles (Raymond Cloyd, KSU).
Scale is flat, round and has a waxy covering that can be either soft or hard. Scale insects are broken into two categories based on their waxy covering: armored scales and soft scales. Soft scales produce honeydew, while armored scales do not. Honeydew leads to sooty mold and unpleasant aesthetics.
Now you can prevent pesky insects from feasting on your plants this winter. Make sure to isolate plants and inspect thoroughly before allowing them into your home.