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I've just been reading some Q's here and through that, learnt about the need to harden plants before moving them outside.

I'm planning to do the reverse soon, and move a small basil plant from outside to inside... due to it starting to get quite cold. (I'm in Melbourne, Australia, where our winter is just getting started!)

I was wondering if, both in general and in this case, a reverse sort of "softening" would be required to help the plant get used to an indoor environment? In basil's case, I know it loves the sun!

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I've never heard of the need. The issue with hardening is that you're taking a plant in a largely controlled environment with low light levels, and a steady temperature, no wind, to a highly varied environment with strong sunlight, a wider range of temperatures and wind. The stems have to harden, the leaf wax increases, and probably lots of other adaptations occur. Bringing the plant back in again requires no adaptation as it is already capable now of meeting the indoor environments. The main issue I'd guess would be loss of light, but you can compensate by using a grow light.

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Some plants are sensitive to light changes (such as Shark Fin Melon). I think this is partially because Shark Fin Melon is supposed to rely on light changes to know when to set fruit, but even though it may wilt for a while, it recovers. I don't know of any issues with basil. However, if there are issues, I recommend just keeping the plant as strong and healthy as possible, and giving it high amounts of light, if possible.

One major issue you might encounter with bringing plants inside is that they might have such as fungal pathogens on them that weren't obvious outside, and they may kill the plant inside. That's what happened when I tried taking a cutting of an outdoor cucurbit and bringing it inside to root. I didn't have any such problems rooting cucurbit cuttings from plants I already had indoors (that germinated indoors).

Also, you'll want to be careful of pests. You might be bringing aphids (I had that happen with mint), spider mites (I'm not really sure how these got inside) and other creatures in the house with your plants, even if you don't see any on the plants outside. Pests can carry and spread plant diseases, too.

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    Thanks so much for the tips Shule. The fungus and pests were the sort of things I was thinking of, without knowing exactly what I didn't know. I'll research a bit more on this! – Tim Malone Apr 28 '16 at 1:35
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    I've had aphids infest purely indoor plants, I guess they just blown in the wind if you leave doors/windows open. But I'd suspect fungal diseases are less likely since you can avoid watering the leaves, the fungi are mainly wind borne, and it's much drier inside. – Graham Chiu Apr 28 '16 at 2:19

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