The Q&A Archives: winter in the house

Question: I just purchased a beautiful gardenia. I live in Minnesota and would like to bring it in this winter. What do I do to make it survive and put it outside next summer?

Answer: In fall, reverse the process of "hardening off" rather than abruptly moving from outside to inside, which will help lessen the shock of being brought into such different conditions. Examine carefully to make sure there are no insects being carried indoors. Put in a bright location with lots of light. You might also try to increase humidity around the plant with some pans of water or set the pot on a shallow tray of water on top of pebbles to keep the water from soaking into the pot. Some yellowing and dropping of leaves is typical because of the move. Be sure it isn't getting any heating vent drafts, etc. Fertilize once a month with a product for gardenias or acid-loving plants. When watering, make sure the entire rootball gets soaked. Once a month, leach salts by watering slowly and deeply, letting water run through the drainage holes.
In spring, slowly ?harden off? or acclimate your plant to moving back outdoors by putting it outside in a sheltered location for a couple hours at a time, gradually increasing the time period.

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