Plants that cannot stand the cold and wet should be inside now, as house guests, in the greenhouse or, at the very least, under cover.

The mild weather many of us were enjoying late into November, albeit with one or two fearsome gales, lulled me into a false sense of security. With so many plants still in flower across the country the temptation was to hang on to the coat-tails of summer and autumn for as long as possible.

Tender planting of pelargoniums and Aeonium in trough at Myddleton House Gardens. Plant pots. House guests

Tender planting of pelargoniums and Aeonium in trough at Myddelton House Gardens. © Rictor Norton & David Allen and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

All that had to change. And quite fast, as frost and snow touched many parts of the country. I now have rather a lot of house guests to find room for, and it’s a work in progress.

Inspect

Before you bring any plants inside, inspect them for pests – slugs, snails, mealybugs and so on and so forth. Tip plants out of their pots and look for any pests like vine weevil grubs (plump, c-shaped, white, legless) in the compost. If you didn’t do it when you brought them in, it’s not too late!

Plant house guests like to be together but they do some need personal space

On the one hand, plants need good air circulation so they don’t get fungal diseases like botrytis (grey mould). On the other hand, the air mustn’t be too dry because a lack of humidity causes brown and shrivelled leaf tips, yellowing leaf edges and wilting. Mist the leaves or stand the container on a tray of moist pebbles. Group plants together to increase air humidity around the foliage.

Pelargoniums

I know it’s a good idea to take pelargonium cuttings in August and September and overwinter them but I simply didn’t get round to it this year. I’ve still got the pelargoniums that were flowering on and off for months on a stand in the front garden. They’ve had to come inside now so they can spend the winter on a window sill, although as it’s turned very cold I must remember not to leave them freezing behind the curtains. I'll be watering a couple of times a week, if that, and picking off any yellowing leaves. Michael Loftus suggests pinching off the leaf and then flicking off the yellowing leaf stem a few days later which avoids leaving open wounds on the stem.

Succulents

Last winter I lost quite a few succulents to the wet weather, despite taking precautions. I raised the pots up on ‘pot feet’ to allow excess moisture to run through the drainage holes and also provide more air circulation to the roots. Unfortunately, it was so very wet that a number of the succulents got swamped. Their roots were starved of oxygen and rotted and, of course, the plants died.

This year I’ve grown some spectacular echeveria that I don’t want to lose so I’ve brought them inside to a very cool but frost-free part of the house. I’ll be keeping them on the dry side.

Echeveria minima. House guests

Echeveria minima at the San Diego Home & Garden Show, California, USA. By Stickpen. Public domain.

Good luck with finding room for all your house guests.