Were you aware your houseplants sense changing seasons too? Although much slighter than in outdoor gardens, the changes in light and temperature do affect your indoor plants and can have fairly drastic consequences for some of the more delicate foliage. Here are some coping strategies to keep your houseplants happy this winter!
Over-watering is a common problem with houseplants, especially during the winter months when their water needs are significantly lower. Water only when the plant needs watering, not when your calendar says it is time to do so. Your plants will use water at a varying rate depending upon light, temperature conditions and plant size. The best way to determine the need for watering is to put your finger down into the soil, checking for moisture. When you do water, apply enough water so that the entire soil mass is moistened and some water drains from the drain holes in the bottom of the container. Never allow your plants to stand in water as this may lead to root rot. Finally, use room temperature water, never ice cold or hot, and water the soil, not the leaves.
We struggle with humidity in Colorado and never more so than in winter when heaters are blasting! Humidity trays make a quick, inexpensive alternative to filling your home with humidifiers. Put a layer of pebbles into a plastic tray and fill with water. As the water evaporates, it creates a humid little micro-climate for any plants you place on the tray. Be sure your potted plant is not sitting in the water but rather, up on top of the pebbles. Need a humidity tray? We've got you covered! Click here to see our inexpensive humidity tray kit!
Take some time to notice how the light situation changes in your home during the fall. If you have a tree that shades a window in summer, when the leaves are gone the light will be more intense during the day. Also remember the days are shortened. Reevaluate the placement of your indoor plants to make sure they are receiving the light they need. Consider setting up some unobtrusive grow lights near your plants.
Growth slows during this time of year so you can reduce feeding to one or two times per month until March.
If you’re comfortable, your plant probably is too. However, watch that the plants are not exposed to cold or hot drafts and avoid excessively warm spots such as the top of your fireplace mantel. Move plants away from cold window panes, heat vents, fans, wood stoves, and fireplaces. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations between night and day! Most foliage plants do well at normal indoor temperatures.
If you have the chance to group your plants together in one area for the winter, you can save yourself the time and energy of trying to create the perfect climate in multiple rooms. Choose a spot on a dresser or table (you could even set up a temporary folding table!) and place plants together on it. Please keep enough space between plants to allow for good air circulation. Overcrowding can encourage mildew and pest breakouts. Place grow lights and a humidifier (or multiple humidity trays) around the plant group and you'll have a wonderful greenhouse environment!
Ugh! Bugs! Unfortunately, while grouping is good for your plants, it also allows bugs to spread quickly. We recommend using a houseplant systemic on all the plants to avoid undue infestations. Want an organic option? Neem oil, extracted from the Neem tree, is the perfect product to fight pests naturally!