Here in Pemberton we have escaped much of the extreme cold temperatures that the rest of Canada and US have endured during the peak of the winter months. Many of you have escaped to tropical sunny retreats to embrace the warmth and lush landscapes they offer. For those who cannot, you may have tried to re-create an oasis in your home by purchasing some houseplants to help get through the dreary winter months. Our own home is feeling a bit like a jungle from the numerous houseplants we moved when we decided to shut down our small greenhouse for the winter (story via Instagram December 18, 2017) . For those who have glass houses in colder climates I would love to hear from you on best practices for maintaining your greenhouses during the winter months.
The addition of these beauties in your living space requires some TLC to ensure they can thrive in their new adopted home.
Having houseplants in your home or office offers great benefits including improved air quality, added humidity, reduced stress and improved mood (Seasonal Affective Disorder), improved work habit performance, and not to mention, improved the aesthetics of your space.
Tropical houseplants found in your local nursery or flower shop have been grown on native farms or controlled greenhouse environments that provide the best light, humidity, temperature, and food. Our homes in the winter can cause stress for houseplants as it is difficult to replicate the perfect conditions required for them to thrive. Here are a few tips to follow that will help to keep those thumbs green.
Tips for winter care for indoor houseplants
- Reduce watering times and increase humidity – Thermostats generally go up during the winter months, which can translate to drier air. Creating humidity baths and misting plants a few times during the day will help to combat the dry heat in your home. Watering schedules tend to get further apart (plants experience a reduced growth rate or go dormant in the winter months). Drainage is still important – choose a pot with a drainage hole or if you are using a cache pot, water your plant over the sink, letting it drain completely before putting it back in the pot. A good tip is to poke your finger an inch or two below the surface. If its dry, then it’s time to water. Also make sure to use tepid or room temperature water as this will avoid shocking the houseplant. If you have an extremely dry home and you and your plants are suffering, investing in a humidifier will help.
- Increase light – Shorter days and reduced light create challenges for plants and are less than ideal for growing conditions. You may find that relocating your plants, adding full spectrum light bulbs or moving the plants closer to bright windows may be helpful. Be mindful not to put a houseplant directly next to a cold window – It can burn the leaves. Clustering plants together will also help to improve humidity and make maintenance easier.
- Pay attention to Temperature – The majority of houseplants prefer temperatures around 18 – 21 degrees Celsius. Make sure your plants are kept away from cold drafts or extreme heat (i.e. fire places). The fluctuation of temperatures for prolonged periods can be stressful to plants.
- Reduce Feeding – As most houseplants tend to slow down or go dormant during the winter months, they do not require fertilizer. A general rule of thumb is to start feeding them again once you start to see new growth.
- Dust the Leaves – A layer of dust will block sunlight and make it hard for them to photosynthesize (this is how the plants feeds itself). Wiping the individual leaves with a damp cloth usually does the trick, but you can spray the plant in the tub with warm water. Some plants have sticky or fuzzy leaves, so dust them with gentle bristles.
- Remove dead leaves – Remove any dead leaves that have fallen into the soil or trim any brown or yellowing leaves. This will help to prevent any disease or pests that love decomposed or dead material.
Spring is not too far along, and your houseplants will be just as happy as you when the longer days and frequency of sunshine returns with the change of season. Whether you are novice or an experienced gardener, the choice of having houseplants in the home will give you many benefits beyond their natural beauty.
Enjoy your oasis and happy gardening!
Catherine – From The Garden Shed