"If plants are brought in without any
readaptation, the leaves will yellow and fall off just like they did
when the plants were taken outside in the spring without proper
hardening off," he cautioned.
Schuster said proper preparation should
take at least two weeks to minimize foliage defoliation, diseases
"Plants should first be checked for any
insect damage and actual insects, including their eggs," he said.
"Check closely the undersides of the leaves as well as where the
leaf petioles attach to the stem. Using a Q-tip and alcohol, remove
any insects and eggs. In some cases an insecticide may be
An organic pesticide such as
insecticidal soap may help, he added.
This insecticide must come in contact
with the insect to kill it since there is no residual activity to
prolong control. Therefore many repeat applications may be
necessary. Be careful -- this product may injure some plants,
especially succulents and cacti, when used as a soil drench for
"Many times insects or their eggs are
in the soil," Schuster noted. "On porous soils, more mealybugs will
feed on plant roots than on the upper part of the plant. For longer
control and the need to treat less often, an inorganic insecticide
may be more appropriate. No matter whether the product is an organic
or inorganic insecticide, always follow all label directions
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in this article]
"You can consider removing the old
soil, rinsing the roots and repotting with fresh soil when the plant
is finally brought into the house. This can be done instead of using
an insecticide. Insecticide use and repotting can cause serious
stress to the plant. The best method depends on the plant and your
'green thumb' ability."
Diseases are a little more difficult to
"There are no curative fungicides for
most diseases," said Schuster. "The diseases need to be prevented.
Powdery mildew can be a serious indoor disease when brought in on
the plants you had outside. Often, it shows up as severe defoliation
weeks after the plant was brought in. You may or may not see a white
powdery growth on the foliage. Use a fungicide starting several
weeks before the plant is brought in. No fungicide should be used
indoors on plants."
Plants need to be slowly reconditioned
to indoor growing conditions. Start by bringing into the house for
an hour and then putting it back outside. Each day add several more
hours to the inside time. While doing this, keep the plants away
from plants that have been inside all summer, just in case your
insect and disease controls fail. By the time two to three weeks
have passed, the plant should be able to stay inside.
"Do not wait for frost to start
preparing your plants for indoor life," Schuster said.
[University of Illinois news