A couple of recent cold mornings are a reminder that it’s time to start preparing to bring tender tropical plants indoors for the winter.

But before you start bringing them in, decide which ones you really want to protect, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. It might not be worth the trouble to bring in plants that are easily replaced next spring.

For those you will bring inside, however, look through your house and decide where to put them so they’ll get plenty of light. One problem these plants have is a change in the amount of light they receive.

“When their light is suddenly and greatly reduced, it’s as if they were put on a starvation diet,” Gill says.

He suggests moving these plants to a shaded outdoor location a couple of weeks before you move them indoors to get them used to lower light conditions.

Houseplants that spent the summer outside should also be groomed before they move indoors. Gill offers this advice:

  • Clean the outside of containers using a damp cloth or a brush and a mild solution of dishwashing liquid and water.
  • Remove dust and debris from the foliage and where leaves join the stems. Hose down the plants and wipe the foliage clean with a soft damp cloth.
  • Remove all dead or yellow leaves, old flower stalks and dead or injured branches and stems.
  • Don’t repot a plant immediately prior to moving it indoors; just wait until spring.

You should do a good, thorough job of pest control before you bring houseplants inside. Get rid of any snails and slugs. Spray plants infested with aphids, spider mites, white flies, scale or thrips. And be especially aware of ants that may have moved into a pot, and kill them before bringing the plant inside.

Once inside, houseplants will need water less often. Feel the soil regularly with your finger and water when the soil feels dry but before the plants wilt. Cactuses and succulents are particularly vulnerable to overwatering, so be especially careful with them.

During winter, water coming out of indoor faucets can be decidedly chilly. When filling up your watering can at the tap, mix hot water with the cold until the water temperature feels tepid or barely warm.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.