How to Overwinter Finicky Tropical Plants

That Venus fly trap isn't doomed, we promise!

As temperatures drop, some plants — much like animals — hibernate. This is called plant dormancy. And while it affects nearly all perennials, it looks slightly different for tropical plants.

In this article, we’ll discuss which tropical plants need extra care during dormancy, how to help them hibernate and how to bring them out of hibernation in the spring. This way, you can ensure even the most finicky of tropical plants survive the winter!

Which Tropical Plants Need More Care During Dormancy?

Unlike most perennials, tropical plants may need specialized care during their dormancy.

According to, “foliage plants” like elephant ear, cordyline, banana, begonia and schefflera can all happily survive the winter when kept indoors, the same as warm-weather outdoor plants like figs. However, flowering tropical plants typically need more assistance. These can include hibiscus, mandevilla and Venus fly traps.

How to Overwinter Finicky Tropical Plants

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Whether your tropical plants currently live indoors or outdoors, you’ll need to take a few steps before overwintering them. Costa Farms suggests the following for all tropical plants:

  1. Wash them off: Hosing down the plant and its pot can prevent unwanted pests in the home.
  2. Give them a trim: Plants will probably get dramatically less sun than they’re used to as indoor houseplants over winter. To help them survive the transition, trim them back, up to one-third of their total growth.
  3. Check for pests: Inside, pest populations can grow rapidly. It’s best to get them off your plants before they come inside.

Now it’s time to store your tropical plants indoors for the winter. Foliage tropical plants are typically happy surviving at standard indoor temperatures from 60 to 70 degrees, as long as you give them plenty of sunlight.

However, flowering tropical plants will often be happier going completely dormant in cool conditions (40 to 50 degrees). Monrovia suggests placing these somewhere with little to no light, like an unheated garage, basement or closet. Some florists even recommend the freezer!

During the dormancy, water these plants no more than twice a month.

How to Take Tropical Plants Out of Hibernation

Patience is key. Gardening Know How suggests acclimating them slowly to indirect light and warmth. Keep all tropical plants indoors until all threats of frost and freezing temperatures have passed.

To give your plants a little extra boost, gently trim them again and treat them to a little fertilizer, diluted to half-strength. Treat them gently and they should flower for many years to come!