The Q&A Archives: Wintering Tropical Plants

Question: I purchased some tropical patio plants this year and enjoyed them so much that I'd really like to bring them inside for the winter so that I can put them back out in the spring. I have a beautiful healthy blooming gardenia and a raspberry ice bougainvillea that I bought partway through the growing season that hasn't bloomed yet and is now losing it's leaves. Help! I have no idea where they should go and how to care for them over the next 6 months. Thank you for your help.....they (the plants) also thank you.

Answer: Unfortunately this is a bit of a dilemma. The bougainvillea can be kept as a flowering houseplant over the winter if you have a very bright window or heated greenhouse. Alternatively it can be kept in a slightly cooler location and allowed to go dormant, with the soil nearly dry, until spring. It will defoliate and look terrible but should survive. (If it has been exposed to night temperatures in the fifties it may already have begun to slow down for the winter.)

The gardenia is much more difficult to overwinter indoors. It requires a very humid atmosphere and very bright light indoors. A tray of water soaked pebbles can help humidify the immediate area. Aim for daytime temperatures near 70 degrees and nights at about 60 degrees. The soil should be kept evenly moist but never soggy. Do not fertilize it during the winter months while it is indoors.

When you move them indoors, do so gradually over about two weeks so they have time to adjust to the inevitable reduced light levels. (Protect them from cold nights.) Also check them over very carefully for pests prior to bringing them indoors.

Best of luck with your two plants!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."