As wildlife and us humans slow down in winter so do our houseplants. After a busy year we all need a rest. Temperatures cool and light levels lower; so how do we care for our plants to keep them ticking over throughout the winter months and conserve their energy ready for spring?
Reduce watering. Houseplants do not need so much water over winter so only water when the soil feels dry; aim for watering once every two weeks. Do the finger test and push your finger into the soil to feel whether it is damp below the surface, if so leave but if it is dry give it a modest water. Always make sure your pots are free-draining so roots do not sit in water and rot. If available use rainwater as tap water contains salts and minerals which can be detrimental to houseplants.
Water stored in a water butt can be freezing at this time of year and your houseplants are not going to thank you for giving them a cold shower so collect the rainwater and leave it to acclimatise at room temperature for a few hours before using. Plants like Peace Lily’s are particularly averse to tap water but if this is your only option then simply leave a container of tap water out on a table for 24 hours and the harmful chemicals will dissipate and be fine to use.
With less hours of sunlight available each day, our plants have to make the most of what they can get so move plants to a brighter area to give them maximum opportunity to catch those rays. Plants may be in a period of dormancy but they still need to photosynthesise. Clean your windows and make space on windowsills or better still place plants in a warm conservatory where they can get light from all angles including above.
Houseplants hate draughts so be cautious of moving your plants into draughty windows or near doors. It is better to keep the temperature consistent, even if that does mean they are not situated in the optimum lighting conditions. Do not be afraid to move your houseplants around to different locations within your home.
Even in an energy crisis, with temperatures plummeting our central heating is going to be on more often and this can be a problem for houseplants. Radiators pump out the heat which dries the surrounding air. Many houseplants love humid conditions so pay extra attention to making sure those plants get regularly misted with water or for an extra hug Plantsmith’s Perfecting Care Mist.
Although houseplants do not need watering as much during winter, if radiators are on regularly check your plant’s soil as it will dry out more quickly than usual.
Windowsills are perfect for houseplants during the day as this will provide the greatest source of natural daylight but at night windowsills can be surprisingly cold. Consider moving your plants off windowsills for winter nights and popping them back on for daylight in the morning.
Winter signals houseplants entering a dormancy phase where they grow less so on the whole stop feeding your plants from October but there are exceptions. Not all plants go to sleep for winter, in fact some spring into life and shine! Poinsettia are a Christmas classic. After the festive season has passed start feeding Poinsettia with Plantsmith’s Fortifying Houseplant Feed & Tonic.
Clean your Plants
Houseplants are particularly low maintenance throughout winter but one useful job you can do is clean them. Your houseplants need all the help they can get to maximum the amount of light they absorb so keep their leaves clean with Plantsmith’s Beautifying Leaf Shine Spray so they can easily photosynthesise and not have their pores blocked up by dust.
Pests can be the bane of houseplant parent’s lives and unfortunately not all bugs hibernate during winter, in fact our warm homes act as be a cosy retreat. Fungus Gnats can be a problem and are quite difficult to get rid of. Although on the whole harmless to your plants, infestations can be distracting. Try a combination of treatments to break the cycle of life and rid your plants of these tiny flies.
Fungus Gnats lay eggs in moist soil so check the soil surface of pots, if it is crawling then take action! Spray soil and leaves with Protecting Bug Control Spray and let soil dry out between waters. Top dress your pots with sand or gravel and set up sticky traps.
Whilst we are likely to be spending more time indoors over the festive period, enjoy more quality time with your houseplants. Revel in a slower pace of life. Take time to go round all of your houseplants and give them a check over. Remove any dead leaves, look out for over-watering or under-watering, move pots closer to the light, keep them out of draughts and simply enjoy their glorious foliage. They do not ask for much but they certainly give a lot back in return.
Happy Christmas and here’s to a 2023 filled with houseplants!