Think you have a green thumb? Well let’s put you to the test on some of the key tips on keeping your indoor plants thriving from January through to December. It is obvious that some indoor plants react differently when they are faced with ever changing factors. Therefore, it can be very difficult to keep your indoor plants healthy for those long 12 months.
It is important to keep in mind that there is never one single factor that will keep a plant happy, but often the combined effect of them all. Combined effects such as soil, watering and humidity are closely related. So here are all the tips and tricks on your indoor plants, broken down into all year-round care and individual seasonal care.
ALL YEAR-ROUND POINTERS
READ THE TAG
Before starting the process of looking after your indoor plant, you will need to carefully read the provided tag, it is basically an instruction manual. Plant tags are packed with information about the plant, from the proper growing conditions, size, colour and when it will bloom. This will state all the necessary care details about your plant. Reading the tag helps you move beyond just looks, it helps you place them where they’ll thrive.
LET IN THE LIGHT AND KEEP PLANTS CLEAN
Giving your plants light is imperative because it is necessary for photosynthesis, which feeds plants. With the importance of light comes keeping your plants clean. Dust cuts down on the light for your plants, here’s how you can keep plants clean:
- Use a rag and clean with warm water or put the whole plant in the shower.
- Remove brown and dead leaves to prevent disease.
- Keep your windows clean to ensure as much light as possible comes through.
- Move your plants around so they receive maximum light and warmth.
- Keep your indoor greens away from heaters, drafts and cold windows.
Botanist and indoor plant stylist Alice Crowe said that there is a simple trick to evaluating whether there’s enough light for a plant, the trick is to wander around your house with a book. If it is too dark to read in a space it will be too dark for a plant to thrive there.
CHECK FOR PESTS AND DISEASES
While caring for your plants, it is recommended to keep an eye out for any pests or nasties moving around your greens. It’s better to find them early to stop them spreading. By keeping your plants happy inside, you can reduce the risk of attack from nasties because healthy plants are more resistant. Furthermore, this ties into other main
KNOW YOUR INDOOR PLANT’S DESIRED WATERING REGIME
This might come as a surprise, but watering can account for more plant deaths than any other issue that may arise, and over-watering is a more common cause of death than under-watering. It is recommended to check each week on how dry the soil is by testing it with your finger. Wiggle it down to the second joint. If the soil is dry, water it. If it’s wet, leave well alone. If it’s just moist, check it again in a couple of days. When in the act of watering, it’s best to pour directly onto the soil, more so under the leaves, or by putting the whole pot in a bucket of water, allowing it to soak up from the bottom. Soaking is a great way to ensure the soil is fully watered, but every so often it’s important to water from above to flush out any waterborne salts, which will build up over time.
CHANGE INDOOR PLANT’S POSITION
When the hottest months roll in, you need to start moving your indoor plants to different homes within your house. It is important to remember that the light intensity changes immensely over summer. Jason Chongue, known as the indoor plant whisperer, says that, “You’ve got to treat your plants like your skin, if it’s in the midday sun it will burn.” In early and late summer, the sun is lower in the sky so will do more damage, meaning that the sun will reach further into rooms through northern and western windows. A simple 30-centimetre change in location can make a difference in summer!
WATER YOUR PLANTS MORE FREQUENTLY
Just like all plants, indoor plants need more water in summer. Throughout February, the lengthening days will produce new growth on your indoor plants. Your indoor garden will need more water moving through summer because of this growth. In the warmest month your plants will desire an increased watering regime. Carefully read your plant’s tag or do some research as to how frequently you should water during summer.
CLEAN YOUR INDOOR PLANTS
I know it might sound a little strange, but you need to spring clean your indoor plants in autumn. Plants can’t ‘breathe’ if the tiny holes in their leaves get blocked by dust, therefore they will need to be wiped off with a wet cloth every so often. As recommended above, giving your plants a literal shower or hosing them down outside is great because it cleans the foliage, in autumn this process is more desirable because it’s before they go into their winter dormancy. However, don’t do this process with hairy-leaved plants, they generally don’t like water sitting around on their leaves.
An additional cleaning method is employing a feather duster, small artist’s paint brush, or a soft, dry cloth for dust cleaning. The dust that builds up on the leaves of your indoor plants can clog the stomata (which the plants use to breathe), preventing the essential air exchange. Use these cleaning tools regularly throughout autumn to keep leaves shiny and clean.
LESS H20 IN WINTER
All your interior plants need less water in winter. Always a good idea to check for water before grabbing the watering can. The soil should be dry about 5 cm down, not just on the surface. Watering every 2 weeks during winter is enough. Water thoroughly, letting it drain out the bottom of the pot into a sink or bucket. Don’t let the pot sit in a saucer of water when you are done.
CUT AWAY OLD GROWTH
In late winter it’s a great time to prune your indoor plants. They may have become leggy with the low winter light, but you also want to encourage new growth. So simply cut off any dead leaves on your indoor plants.
HOLD OFF ON THE FERTILISER
Since plants are dormant in winter, they do not need an artificial boost of growing power. Which means no repotting and no fertiliser, this is key with house plants during winter, as plants grow slowly during this time.
INCREASE HUMITY WHEN POSSIBLE
To combat dry indoor air, put rocks or pebbles in saucers, and fill with water. Be sure the bottom of the pot is not touching or standing in the water. Group plants together for more humidity, or run a humidifier or vaporiser.
GIVE YOUR PLANTS ANOTHER SHOWER
At the start of spring, your plants will need another shower in order to prepare them for the coming months. Either shower them in the bathroom or give them a good wash outside with the hose.
MORE WATER AGAIN
Your indoor garden will need more water during spring. Continue to check for water in the same way previously mentioned. As the days continue to get longer and warmer with the closing of winter, your indoor plants require that extra bit of water.
USE ORGANIC FERTILISER
Your plants will be thanking you for fertiliser in spring. The general rule of thumb is to fertilise lightly in the warmer months or when the humidity is high. Some plants require different levels of fertiliser during spring, the amount you give your plants really depends on whether you want to encourage lush growth or just keep them healthy.
BONUS FOR OUR READERS: WHAT-TO-PLANT WHERE GUIDE
Shade-tolerant plants: Jade plant (Crassula ovata), Heartleaf Philodendron, Rex Begonias, Boston Fern, Spider Plants, Fishtail Palms (Calamus caryotoides)
Plants needing bright light: Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), Rubber Plants (Ficus elastica), Ponytail Palm, Crotons, Hoya Australis, Umbrella Plants (schefflera), Ficus
Dry air: Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum); Hoya Australis or Hoya Carnosa
High humidity: Boston Fern, Monsteras, Ficus
Hot spots: Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum); Cordylines, FicusCool areas: Mint, Hoya Australis, Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
Hope these handy tips and tricks are able to help you and your indoor plants thrive!
Better Homes & Gardens – https://www.bhg.com/
ABC Everyday – https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/
Realestate.com – https://www.realestate.com.au/lifestyle/