As the earth warms up, your plants—just like you—are ready to wake up and party!
Your indoor plants are not immune to outdoor temperature changes. Every plant goes through some version of winter dormancy and while you transition to warmer days you need to help your plants transition too. Here’s a simple guide specifically for plant parents like us living in urban environments with restricted access to balconies or backyards:
1. Excessive showers
In the spring and summer you’ll definitely want to water your plants more. A plant watered once a month in the winter may now need to be watered once every two weeks. Some ferns may need frequent misting along with the weekly schedule of watering. The good news is most plants communicate their dehydration by showing signs like wilting or curling, a.k.a sadness.
Always be careful not to saturate the soil too much with water, but instead evenly add water as soil takes in water over time. There is risk of overwatering if soil is left too wet for too long. Letting your soil dry out before watering again is a good rule of thumb. When in doubt, finger your plant: if the soil is dry two inches deep then it is time to water.
Seasons change gradually, so increase your water at a gradual rate too. Be careful not to shock your plants with more water all at once.
2. Avoid long suntans
The longer days bring more sunlight to your plants. If your plants have been in direct sunlight this winter, think about pulling them away from direct light to reduce the chance of leaves yellowing or browning. Plants like ferns, spider plants, or any plants with thin, long leaves are more susceptible to this browning.
The intensity of the light reduces dramatically as you move away from the window. An easy way to measure the intensity of light is to look at the shadow: a sharp, well-defined shadow means brighter light than a fuzzy shadow. Don’t forget succulents and cacti will still want that direct sunlight even in the spring and summer.
Rotate your plants once a week to make sure the nourishing light is well balanced. The growth hormone auxin promotes stem elongation, which causes a plant to grow towards the light. As the light in your home increases, make sure your plants are getting the light exactly where they need it.
3. Let them sweat
Most houseplants with the exception of succulents/cacti prefer high humidity, and almost all plants like normal room temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees. So keep your plants away from the direct cool blast of your A/C unit.
As the temperature increases, the capacity of air to hold water vapor increases too. Try grouping your plants together to conserve humidity levels between them. Add misting the leaves to your water routine to help imitate their natural tropical environment.
4. Fresh haircut
Everyone wants a big, bushy, healthy-looking houseplant, and it might seem counterintuitive that pruning is a way to accomplish that goal. However, everything from pruning out old leaves and stems to occasionally clipping away old roots while repotting can stimulate vigorous, healthy new growth.
So if your plants start looking a little tired, give them a haircut and watch them grow back with a vengeance.
When you prune, do so judiciously. Well-pruned plants don’t look pruned but instead appear natural. If in doubt, don’t cut. As a rule of thumb, prune out no more than one quarter of the foliage at one pruning. Not all houseplants need pruning, but most benefit from at least some shaping and removal of dead leaves and damaged or diseased stems.