It's coming. The gardener's least favorite day of the year is that of the first frost. Prepare now so you don't get caught flat-footed.

If you have houseplants that have been vacationing outside all summer, move them in. This includes philodendron, spider plant, jade plant, umbrella tree and many more. They'll readapt to life indoors where they'll help remove pollutants from the air and exchange them for oxygen.

Decide which tropical plants to bring inside. Don't worry about cannas and dahlias; we can deal with them after frost. Focus instead on tropical that don't go dormant, such as banana, angel trumpet, oleander, New Zealand flax and succulents, as well as dwarf citrus trees, flowering maple, papyrus and lantana.

Bring in the "mother" plants of tropical perennials that we treat as annuals. These include geraniums, coleus, digiplex foxglove and begonias such as the 'Whopper' and 'Dragon' types.

You can also take cuttings from these and other plants. Cut off pieces about six to eight inches long. Strip the lower leaves and place them in jars of water on the windowsill. They'll root within a few weeks and can then be potted up. This works especially well for cuttings of geranium, coleus, bloodleaf and sweet potato vine.

To prolong the beauty of the season a little longer, consider covering your flowers when the first frost is forecast. Just a simple cotton sheet is often enough to keep a killer frost at bay.