The Q&A Archives: Mandevilla Over Winter

Question: We have magnificent Mandevilla growing (potted)in our flower beds and vining up the front of the house. I've been told that before frost I can cut them back and bring them into the house and that they will survive the winter to be taken outside again next spring. If this is true - how far back would you recommend cutting the vines and what care(feeding) should they receive over the winter. By the way- they were periodically fed Miracle-Gro this season which resulted in handsome plants far beyond our expectations.

Answer: To some extent the amount you have to cut off will depend on how confusedly they have twined and how much patience you have to untwine them and also on how much room you have to keep them indoors. In order to grow well indoors these sunlovers need the maximum possible amount of sunlight -- these are tropical plants after all. In lesser amounts of light they will languish but survive; in lower light they will do better with lower temperatures (say in the 50's or 60's) which help them to slow down naturally rather than keep on trying to grow full tilt and becoming leggy as a result. If they do, simply trim them back a bit next spring when they begin to grow again.

To prepare them for coming indoors check them carefully for pests ahead of time. Also, over several weeks move them gradually into a partly shady location to acclimate them to the lower light levels indoors. As they slow down with the shorter days, reduce water and fertilizer to compensate for the reduced growth. Next spring, follow the process in reverse to avoid "sunburning" them and adjust your watering and fertilizing as they make their spring growth again.

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