Houseplants in winter
Whilst our gardens are in dormancy as the harsh conditions of winter blanket the land, houseplants take on extra importance this time of year, adding greenery, life and air-purifying qualities during the colder months where much of our time is spent inside. It’s therefore not surprising to learn that this is a peak time of year for buying, giving and receiving houseplants not only because specific plants are grown in huge quantities for Christmas gifts but because they offer interest and can bring relaxation to a home.
Houseplants come in a wide range of styles, shapes and colours and Christmas brings the likes of the poinsettia, a popular plant traditionally associated with Christmas, the December flowering Christmas cactus, bright cyclamen plants which can be grown outdoors, and inside, or for instant cheer the winter cherry with its vibrant orange fruits. However, it is important to make sure you know how to care for the plants during winter to ensure you continue to get the best out of them into the following year. Just like your plants in the garden, this is also the time of year for indoor plants to rest, meaning they need less watering and feeding but still need a little TLC.
Keep them warm and bright
Most indoor plants thrive in regular household temperatures, so if you keep them in a 18 – 23˚C temperature range, they should be perfectly fine but be sure to keep them away from both drafts and heat sources like radiators and fireplaces. Just like us they seek natural light so if you can, move your plants to the light of a window, whether it’s on the floor or windowsill they will thank you for a little rotation in sunlight.
Plants aren’t as water-needy this time of year as there is less sunlight so you can significantly cut down on your watering. Yellowing and dropping of leaves can signify either over or under watering, so watch out for the signs. Make sure you allow your water to reach room temperature as houseplants won’t appreciate the shock of ice-cold water and up the ante on the humidity factor by misting or spraying the air around them once or twice a week in the morning to keep them healthy.
If you’re not in the habit of cleaning your plants throughout the year then this is an important time to do so. In winter the air inside your home is dry, and with the addition of heating blowing a lot of dust around, the leaves of your plants can get clogged up with dust. They need to be allowed to breathe and by using a damp cloth to wipe the foliage you are allowing the plant to absorb as much light as possible.
Keep your eye out
Pests thrive in dry winter air so be sure to inspect your plants thoroughly, regularly looking under the leaves and along the stems as well as in the soil. Take action as soon as you see evidence of any pest to prevent the infestation spreading to other plants, it’s much easier to gain control of if caught early.
Christmas gift – flowering bulbs
Large numbers of flowering bulbs, including hyacinths, amaryllis and daffodils also appear as Christmas gifts. These have all been forced into early blooms, to last well into the new year if the soil is kept moist and the room in which they’re kept in is not too warm. The added benefit of these gifts is that once the flowers have died the bulbs can be planted out in the garden.