Nick Cutsumpas, the plant coach and urban farmer behind Farmer Nick, says before bringing your plants back inside, it’s important to make them do what you’ve already been doing for the past six months: quarantining. “Make sure to put your plants in their own little quarantine first,” he says. “Putting them in the bathroom for a day or two is my go-to tip, because it allows me to inspect the soil and leaves for invasive pests, as well as give them a good shower.”
Then once that quickie lockdown is up—and no bugs are spotted—you can place them in an area that most closely resembles the amount of light they were getting outside. “Going from full sun to part sun may be a big adjustment for some plants, so try to recreate the same conditions if possible,” he says. During that adjustment period, you might notice some yellow leaves or wilting, but after they get used to their new surroundings, they should perk right back up again.
A best case scenario would be finding no pests at all. If you do spot any pests, however, Cutsumpas has a specific way he goes about getting rid of them. And you’ve gotta hop on the problem quickly.
“If you find new pests, take action immediately so the infestation doesn’t spread to your other indoor plants,” he says. “Start with a full shower to knock off any pests on the leaves, spray down with neem oil ($20)—my go to solution for any pest issues—and wipe down with an old t-shirt or rag. Some pests like scale really cling on to the leaves, and an old toothbrush is also effective for scrubbing down the hard-to-reach places. Give it another quick shower and you should be good to go.”
Your outside-loving houseplants can reclaim their patio spot next spring. But until then, this routine will have them happily situated back in your indoor jungle.
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