Even though our outdoor chores have ended for the season, that doesn't mean we don't have plants to care for.
|Dracaenas are one of the easiest-care houseplants you can grow.|
It's time to turn our attention to the houseplants we share our homes with. If you're wondering how to care for them over the winter months, here are some handy tips:
- If some of your houseplants were outdoors for the summer and early fall, keep an eye out for any insects that hitched a ride indoors with them. It's better to nip a problem in the bud as early as possible so the problem doesn't become overwhelming for you and the plant. Also, if you suspect insect problems, don't put plants close to each other because the bugs will easily be able to spread to other plants.
- Water plants lightly and only when they need water, not just because it's your houseplant-watering day! It's easy to get into a ritual of watering -- and I can't blame you because that way you won't forget to do it -- but houseplants don't need a ton of water this time of year. Overwatering them is the quickest way to kill houseplants. If the pot size is manageable, lift it to see if it feels lightweight (dry soil) or heavy (wet soil). Or poke your finger into the potting soil up to the second knuckle to see how much moisture is in the soil. Let one of those two methods be your watering guide.
- If possible, water the plants with lukewarm water rather than freezing cold tap water. The latter will shock the poor plants, just like it would shock us to take a cold shower! Brrr.
- Don't fertilize the plants during the winter. They won't need it until springtime.
- Also wait until spring to re-pot your plants, as needed. It's best just to let them veg out during the winter and not disturb the roots.
- Remember that the sun is now lower in the southern sky. If you grow plants that prefer bright areas, you might need to move them to a sunnier location to accommodate them.
- If the plants' leaves are dusty, gently wipe the dust off with a moistened paper towel. This will allow plants to more easily take advantage of the light in their indoor environment.
- Keep them out of drafts and, conversely, away from heat sources such as woodstoves, fireplaces and heater vents.
- Don't let a plant's leaves touch your window panes. The glass will be very cold, especially during our bitterly cold nights, which is another way to shock the plants and possibly freeze the leaves.
- Remember how dry it is in your house this time of year. If you're growing plants that require increased humidity, consider placing them in a tray filled with pebbles. Add water to the tray every so often... but don't let the plants' roots sit in the water -- that's another quick way to kill them off!
As a gardener, I appreciate my houseplants because they bring life to the indoors, particularly when it's so bleak outdoors. And the little care they need satisfies my desire to be surrounded by growing things.