Here in Ohio, our typical first frost date is about mid September.
Which means it’s time to start the war against the gnats.
I always plan to have my container plants brought in a couple of weeks before that time. I don’t want the bother of worrying about the weather, and running outside to cover a lot of my succulents which are just not hardy in Ohio.
So I am behind already and I had better start getting them ready soon. It takes a few weeks to do it with my method, so I will be beginning soon. Today!
First of all, I have the ones I need to bring inside in lighter containers (mostly). That makes it easier because my plants go downstairs to the basement. It is hard to carry them anyway, but would be so much harder if the containers weren’t hypertufa. It’s lighter than concrete, but still heavy.
I have some wooden shelves which my husband built many years ago when I tried seed starting in late winter. What a disaster that was! I had no luck with that. Since then, I have found the winter sowing method. It is perfect. Read up on that for this winter.
This is the method I use to prepare the plants I need to bring inside.
Start by drying them out
I think it is best to bring the plants under a cover, such as my deck, or maybe you have an overhang or sun porch. They will still be outside, but protected from the rain. We are going to dry them out. Give the pots or planters a brush down, rub down and check the bottom drainage holes to be sure they are open.
Get a rectangular sticky traps for flies or the ribbons that catch flies at your garden center or grocery store. In the area where you are drying out your plants, place a few of these flat Yellow Sticky Traps or hang some ribbons.
Yellow attracts bugs and you will want to trap any gnats which are in the soil. These things are STICKY majorly…is that a word? Handle carefully and keep away from kids and pets.
Leave the plants under cover with no rain reaching them and do not water them. Let the soil dry out completely. This will reduce fungus gnats tremendously. You don’t want to bring that problem inside. So annoying!
Fungus gnats thrive and reproduce in wet moist soil, so get it dry! While those days are passing, check over your plant for any signs of other insects and remove them. Use Q tips to get rid of spider webs, any crawlers, etc.
After your soil has been dry for a week or so, water your container with a mix of one part hydrogen peroxide 3% to four parts water. This is the strength used as an antiseptic. Buy it in the drug store section. Use this in a water pitcher or spray bottle.
It may make a foam on the soil surface where the larvae live, but won’t hurt your plant. It kills the larvae on contact, which is a good thing. Dryness kills the larvae, and H2O2 kills the larvae. Sort of giving them a double punch!
I would feel safe enough to bring them downstairs, but for the first month, I will hang Raid “fly ribbons” around my shelves to trap any stray gnat that escaped . The little carcasses are pitiful stuck to the yellow tape, but better there than a cloud of them in your face!
Now you are good to go for the winter. In my basement, it stays a steady temperature. I keep the lights on during the day and turn them off at night, and I limit the water. They go dormant usually during this period. So they don’t need much water, and I don’t feed mine at all.
Good luck! And when the weatherman starts that ” Temperatures will be dipping low tonight, possible frost…” Just sit back , relax, and have a margarita!