The longer nights are a signal to plants to move toward dormancy and a reminder to gardeners to prepare their tender plants to be brought inside.

Although there is no frost or freeze warning in our immediate future, if you have as many plants tucked under trees and in beds as I do, it will take a few days to get them all cleaned, sprayed and washed out.

Before bringing in plants that will join protected houseplants, be sure to spray them off with water to remove dust and bugs. Then, water them enough that water flows freely out of the pot. This flooding will remove salts from the soil.

Remove dead leaves, prune off spindly side branches and deadhead leggy branches to fit into the confines of your home space.

Clean the leaves and stems. Use insecticidal soap or put a few drops of dish soap into a gallon of room temperature water and drench the plant, letting it drip outside, in the bathtub or kitchen sink.

Hose off the pot and put it into a tub of water to rinse off the bottom.

Inside the house, plants need about one-fourth as much water as they needed outside in the heat, sun and wind. Let the top one-half inch of soil dry out before watering.

Hold off on re-potting until late winter unless the plant shows signs of stress, like dropping its leaves or turning yellow.

Re-potting into fresh soil will stimulate the plant's growth and you want it to rest over the winter and not take up too much space.


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