As the overnight temperatures begin to drop below freezing, the annual parade of houseplants from the porch or patio into the house is here. While it is a good idea to acclimate these plants to the indoor environment by dragging them in and out of the house whenever the threat of frost is present, it can become backbreaking work. This is especially true of those plants that have easily outgrown the space they occupied last winter.
Taking advantage of this time to repot houseplants can make shuttling them back and forth much easier. If you have a potting bench, then you are ready to go into action. From a space management standpoint, downsizing these plants is a must every now and then. This can be done by pruning or by dividing the plants.
The growth habit of specific plants will dictate which of these can be done. For instance, pruning is typically done on woody houseplants like Weeping Figs, but divisions can be done on any multi-stem herbaceous plant like Chinese Evergreen or Begonia.
Once plants have been pruned or divided, repot them into an appropriately sized container. You may even like to try making your own specializing potting mix for houseplants. This could be the very same container that the plant has been in.
The plant will still benefit from this because new potting mix is generally more porous and contains more organic matter which will not only lighten the pot, but will help the plant acclimate to the indoor environment.
In addition to re-potting houseplants that have been outdoors for the summer, now is an opportune time to take cuttings of any plants that might be worth recruiting as houseplants. For example, I have a Copperleaf plant (Acalypha wilkesiana) that was an interesting addition to a combination planter several years ago.
When it was in the combo planter, it was about eight inches tall, but now it is a striking 3 foot tall tree. Plants like these add to the interest of the indoor flora throughout the cold months, even if they don’t live to see another warm season. With that in mind, don’t let any pot go unplanted.