I have the same dilemma every year. I have only so much room and yet so many pots of plants and flowers so I have to decide which ones to bring in at the end of the year. I walk through the yard and along my driveway deciding what will be saved and what will not. Will it be the geraniums this year? Maybe it will be the Australian fern. Every year when the temperatures start dipping into the low 40's I have to make the decision.
Some pots are very easy to leave behind because they are full of annuals that are inexpensive and easy to replace. Sometimes there are some that are a little more difficult. My ivy geraniums never do well for me when I bring them inside. I've tried several years and I just have not got the right atmosphere for them during the winter months. It is such a shame because they do so well for me outside. I can't resist buying at least one every year because they are so pretty. Should I give it a try again this year? Maybe one of you have a way I haven't tried and I can save it this year. Maybe some day I will get that greenhouse that I have always dreamed of but in the meantime I have learned a few tips that seem to help make the transition as easy as possible.
My bougainvillea all come inside. They do really well for me over the winter months. I let some go dormant in the garage and some come into the bright sunny dining room where they happily bloom all winter long for me.
When I move them in I follow a process that seems to work well for me. I first move them into my garage which is not a huge amount of light. It gets them out of the killing frost until I have time to deal with them properly. The lower light conditions will cause them to drop a few leaves which doesn't hurt a thing. Some will drop all of their leaves and in that case I will let that one go dormant and move it to a warmer spot in the garage to sleep for the winter. I do not water much at all during this time. I might water it 1 or 2 times a month at the most. I also do not add any fertilizer unless the plant has been blooming then I will as soon as the bloom falters. Before I let them go to sleep completely, I will give the plant and pot a really good soaking. I spray the plant down with a good blast of water to wash away any spider mites or other critters that might be clinging on. I also use an insecticidal soap (homemade or store bought is great). While it is in the garage I watch closely to see if there is anything eating the leaves or any signs of ants or other critter activity. I don't want to move any of those things into my home.
If I see anything then I treat the plant for those things. I try to stay organic if at all possible. So far that seems to be the method that works best.
There are a few bougainvillea that I will move into the house after my big Christmas party in the first part of December. I need the space for now and don't want my guests to be caught on their thorns. In the meantime they will rest in the garage. They will happily rebound as soon as I move them into the brighter light. I have already moved my two ficus trees inside and a rubber plant and some others that will not catch at my guests. I don't have too many problems with moving them. I had a ficus once that objected even if I moved it in the same room. It would pout and drop every leaf nearly but it always bounced back. This tree didn't seem to miss a beat. I re potted one of them and it is pouting a bit. I just continue on like it never dropped a leaf and soon it is back with the program.
If my garage is going to get lower than 40 degrees for any length of time then I will plug in a little heater to help keep the plants from freezing. They can take a bit of that type of temperature but not sustained. If there are any dead spots then I cut back any dead or diseased portions. I also add pine cones to the top of the soil to keep my cats from using them as a litter box. I try to find the kind of pine cones that are a little more sharp in their poke if I can. I have even used the cinnamon smelling ones and they do just fine. No adverse effects and they smell really nice for a week or so. I never place anything in direct light from the sun because light coming through that window will burn those leaves. I may work them towards that if they need direct light but I always move them in that direction slowly. I like to place containers of water around (Hidden in back) to add some humidity to the air. You can also put rocks in the water tray and set the plant on top of the rocks to keep their roots out of the water. This will allow drainage, and then keep that tray full of water so the water can evaporate and humidify the air but be wary of mold. Most plants prefer humidity rather than lots of watering. I like to mist my plants a bit during the winter as well with some water. This keeps them from getting too dusty and gives them another source of humidity. You can use those leaf shining products but I like to use as little chemical as possible. We used them at the flower shop and the plants did fine. I just don't know what the effects of that spray is on me so I figure better safe than sorry. Hope this helps you decide to bring some of those pants inside for the winter.
Until Next Time