Every springtime, plants, animals and insects slowly awaken from the slumber of winter dormancy and prepare to emerge into the colorful explosion of spring warmth and fertile pollination. For indoor plants, it’s important to take this time to recreate the changes that would happen naturally outdoors: replenished soil, fresh air, cleaned & pruned leaves, buckling in for a jolt of summer growth.
This spring care checklist has everything you need to guide your plants’ through their seasonal transition into longer days and warmer temperatures.
Let the Sunshine In
Just like humans, plants need fresh air and sunlight in healthy doses. Raising the glass barrier between your houseplants and the outside world will give them a much needed boost of sunlight and humidity after what is typically a dry drab winter.
Now is a good time to rotate your plants, moving the ones that crave direct light forward and pushing your partial shade-loving fronds into safer territory so they won’t get sunburned by the stronger rays. If your plant’s leaves turn white, translucent or brown, they are likely sunburnt and need to be better protected from the sun.
New Season, New Soil
Throughout the year, watering your plants depletes their soil of its minerals which is why indoor plants need to be repotted. Fresh soil replenishes their vitamin levels and a bigger container gives their roots room to stretch out, stimulating growth.
Signs that your plant has grown too big for its container are:
- Roots visible growing out of the drainage hole
- Water runs through soil immediately instead of soaking in
- Roots growing in a circular pattern
- Plant appears to be bursting from the pot
For plants that have recently been repotted, you can loosen the soil by aerating it using wooden chopsticks. This technique helps break up the soil so that oxygen can flow through it to the plant roots. Aerated soil helps the roots dry more quickly after being watered faster, and keeps the soil from getting compacted.
Ease Into Fertilizer
With new soil, plants need to be fed with fertilizer. Don’t give them a full dose of fertilizer all at once, rather ease into it over the course of a few months. Start with a very diluted dose in April, increase to half-strength during May, so that by June your plant is ready for a full serving.
You can liken giving your plants fertilizer to eating a very rich meal after fasting. Eating too much too soon can wreck your stomach, so a similar idea applies to plants. Source organic fertilizers rather than harsh chemicals and always read the ingredient labels.
Prune & Propagate
It’s time to trim your plants’ lean leggy growth and shaggy dead leaves. Inspect the leaves for dried leaves and flimsy vines that can be clipped to help conserve energy for new growth. Save healthy cuttings to root in water (or air), propagate in a jar of water, and replant, and compost whatever is dead.
If any parts of the plant appear to be sick or infested with a pest, do not compost it because you could risk contaminating your local compost supply.
So Fresh, So Clean
Once your plant is repotted, fed, and has been freshly barbered, it’s time to clean the remaining leaves. Using a soft clean cloth, dampen with warm water or diluted a mild soap with water and rub each leaf on top and underneath. This gentle cleaning will remove dust, eliminate any eggs of plant pests, and ensure your green beauty is camera ready.
Acclimate to the Outdoors
If you are lucky enough to have a backyard, deck or fire escape, you can move your plants outside. The most important part of this transition is to do it gradually, not all at once, otherwise the sudden change in spring temperatures can shock your plant. Intense sun can cause sunburn and chilly nights can stunt growth.
As a rule, don’t leave your plants outside overnight until temperatures are steadily above 50F. Ease your plants from shade to partial shade and then full sun.
Double check that all of the containers have drainage holes otherwise when it rains, your plants will drown. You might need to increase the watering frequency because more sunshine means the soil will dry out faster.
Grow Your Collection
Spring is the perfect time to add on to your collection. Consider where you can diversify or add more plants with funky shapes and patterns on their leaves. Our jungles are a great choice to get a diverse batch of plants to your house.
If you are shopping in store, ask for custom advice on the latest varieties and growing trends. You might be surprised by what you find.
Sabharwal, Puneet. Happy Plant: A Beginner's Guide to Cultivating Healthy Plant Care Habits Princeton Architectural Press 2022.