Fall has arrived, so before the temperatures get too low, be sure to bring in any plants that you want to save for next spring.
Jenny Addie, of Green Thumb West in Martinez, said heating and cooling costs have made the use of greenhouses extremely expensive.
For that reason, many gardeners are using their sun rooms or sun porches as a "holding cell" for their outdoor plants during the cold months of winter.
"It's the fuel bills that are changing the way people use their greenhouses," Addie said.
She adds that a greenhouse or sun porch isn't essential if you want to save plants from season to season.
Gardener Betsy Ristroph has a greenhouse and uses it to house her tropical plants during the winter. She said she begins moving her tender plants -- Plumeria, tropical hibiscus, Lime Zinger elephant ears and others -- into the greenhouse when temperatures below 38 degrees are predicted.
"The best tip for moving plants inside the house is to move them before you turn the heat on in the house," Ristroph said. "That way the plants can adjust to the heat rather than being suddenly thrust into an overheated house."
Ristroph applies the same rule in the summer: plants go back outdoors before the air conditioning comes on.
"In both seasons, try to move them when the house and outside temperatures are the same," she said.
Addie said most gardeners will try to save their tropical plants throughout the winter for growing next season. She recommends giving the plants a little "cut back" -- cut about a third of the plant off -- because it will be shocked when it goes into the greenhouse or comes indoors.
"They don't need to support so much of what they've grown in the summer," she said of the plants. "This is for tropicals, like the hibiscus."
Addie said plants can take a little cold weather, so long as they are sheltered. She recommends bringing plants in when temperatures reach 45 degrees to 50 degrees.
"Just bring them straight in," she said. "They don't need hardening off."
At the same time, Addie suggests giving the plants a dose of fertilizer and then using a weaker soluble plant food each month throughout the winter.
Ristroph says she often will rinse off the leaves and clear any debris from the pots she brings in to prevent bringing bugs in the house.
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