How To Care For Houseplants During Cold Days
It is lovely to be surrounded by plants during those cold, inhospitable wintry months. It can, however, be a little tricky knowing how best to look after them. The lack of daylight, warmth, birds, and bees can be a real challenge. Here are some helpful tips to help you manage to get the best out of your indoor plants so that they give you peace and joy, all year round.
In the winter you often have your heating cranked right up, which is not healthy for houseplants because it tends to drain them of all their necessary humidity. However, your plants need less water in winter months than they do in the summer months, so don’t over-do it; there is a real danger of death by drowning! You can dab your index finger into the soil, about one inch in, determining how moist it is. If reasonably moist, don’t water. You can actually store your plants in the bathroom or kitchen, thereby reducing the number of times you’ll have to specifically water them by hand. Placing your plants in some kind of pebble tray will also help, in this regard; they’ll gain more humidity this way.
Houseplants will tend to grow more slowly during dark, winter months, due to the lack of light they receive. However, if a houseplant starts to become ‘leggy’ or weak, then a lack of light could well be the problem. It could be worth purchasing a grow light for smaller plants, particularly when you have a number that could benefit from it. Fluorescent light is inexpensive and can work wonders; because it tends to come as a strip light you can literally line your plants up in a row and treat them to a communal source of heat.
Indoor houseplants tend to have originated from warmer climes so you’ll need to maintain them in a room that is around 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. A space heater could be put on a timer in order to maintain this, and you ought not to put them near a drafty door or window. If you have a fireplace, consider placing it near there.
Plants are dormant in the winter months so avoid fertilizing them during this period; the last time you should feed them fertilizer should be in early fall, say September or October. Only feed them again in early spring, say March or April, and start off with a relatively weak mixture until they’re up and running, so to speak.
Try to avoid re-potting in winter; any growth is likely to be weak and insubstantial. You’re actually putting plants under undue stress during that process, and plants should be hibernating rather than seeking to grow in any meaningful way. If the soil becomes dry, though, even after being freshly watered, then go ahead and re-pot so as to keep them alive.
Houseplants can become vulnerable to pests during the winter, and there is a lack of robust which can make them even more vulnerable. If you spot any such bugs when watering your plants, procure an organic insecticidal soap immediately and wash the plants in question. Organic neem oil can also work well; you can even create your own organic insecticide by combining a tablespoon of average liquid soap with a liter of water.
It is difficult to say exactly how cold your house could be before any lasting damage could occur to your houseplant(s), but they generally won’t thrive if they’re consistently kept in conditions that are under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all varieties are the same; some are harder and more able to withstand colder conditions. Best to thoroughly read the label and even do your homework before purchasing a new one to add to your collection.
8. New Purchases
If you want to buy more indoor plants, visit your local garden center. There are usually plenty of sales to be had, especially in January. After buying a few, ensure you cover them utterly, as soon as you get into the cold outdoors. Ideally, you can do all of your purchasing in warmer months, in case you accidentally freeze them to death. However, if you take the right precautions you should be able to purchase them all year round.
There has been much research done on fathoming the effect that indoor plants can have on your psychological sense of well-being. The scents and colors are one thing, yet it is the act of nurturing and caring for an organic entity that is the deeply soothing and satisfying thing. In the dead of winter, surrounded by electronic devices, it can be therapeutic to have something else to tend to. Plants should be seen, in this light, next door to pets in their ability to draw out finer feelings from us humans and give us a sense of almost parental responsibility for them.