Houseplant Care: Winter Edition

Light

The intensity of light is drastically reduced in winter because the days are shorter. Interestingly, the sun is also lower in the sky, which means that the sun is reaching further into your home, although with less intensity. These changes in lighting might require you to move some plants, soI have the following thoughts:

· Succulents have a hard time without proper lighting; you will want to make sure succulents – and other bright light plants like yuccas, bananas, or birds of paradise – are as close to a south or west window as possible. (Lacking this direct light, you could employ a grow light to compensate).

· You’ll have to adjust plants that require bright indirect light on a case-by-case basis: as the light reaches further into west-and-south-facing homes, plants like fiddle leaf figs and monsteras might be fine where they are. However, in an east-facing location, they may fare better a little closer to the window.

· Low light plants like pothos should be observed at 1pm: are they getting hit with direct light? Make sure they remain in a shadier location.

· Ferns are great fun at this time of year because they are thought to be low light, but they might function best in east-facing locations. These might be brought closer to an east-facing window for the winter. Alternatively, they might do quite well in the middle of a room that faces south: they’ll benefit from light that’s slightly brighter during the day, but less intense overall.

The bottom line with lighting is to pay attention to your leaves: yellowing leaves can indicate a lack of light (if the plants is getting yellow leaves on the side away from the window, this is a good indication that the yellowing is not from overwatering).

Water

As seasons change, most people forget to change their watering schedule. And I say “schedule” with the greatest hesitation: I typically don’t recommend a “weekly” schedule, but rather a “check,” which is often misinterpreted to mean “always water” instead of “check and maybe water.”

· For tropicals: check the soil with your finger.Reach below the soil to the second knuckle, and only water the plant if the soil below the surface feels dry. You should find yourself watering way less overall.(*If your soil feels dry every week, you might have something else going on, like a plant that needs re-potting: stay tuned for that blog in the future!)

· For orchids and air plants: continue to soak orchids weekly and air plants every other week for about 30 to 40 minutes.

· For succulents, cacti, ZZ plants, and snake plants: check these once a month, but be prepared to water every other time you check. Water thoroughly and drain well.

Similarly: I don’t typically fertilize in the winter, but I have a few exceptions: if a plant has experienced stress – like a pest or repotting – I will use Liquid Schultz fertilizer. If (ok, when) I purchase a plant, I’ll use fertilizer. And I also fertilize my fiddle leaf fig all year long. I don’t know why, but that dude is just hungry all the time!

Pests

If there was a Bingo Card for “Houseplant Ailments” in the fall and winter, at least half the squares would say “fungus gnats,” and it would be the fastest game of Bingo: we get a dozen daily calls about fungus gnats. There’s a simple reason for that; fungus gnats lie dormant in most soils and become active when the water is so wet that roots start to grow fungus(hence the name “fungus” gnat). The bugs lay their eggs, and the larvae eat up the fungus on the roots. The adults crawl out of the soil, and the process begins again.

The simple solution here is to reduce your watering as soon as fall starts, to prevent the fungus from growing in the first place. But that’s hard for most of us to remember, so you can also use Nematodes to treat fungus gnats without chemicals.

Other pests can also occur in the winter. Catching a pest early means you are more likely to control it, so it’s best to do a scheduled pest check every two weeks or so.

· Spider mites are common on palms and crotons; wipe the leaves every other week to prevent the growth. Check the undersides of leaves frequently, and keep an eye out for microscopic spotting that kind of looks like a fine mist of yellow spray paint: this can be the first sign that the mites are slurping at the feast that is your plant.

· Mealy bugs love the humidity of tropical plants!Check the nooks and crevices for a cottony-white substance that indicates the mealy are laying eggs.

· Aphids are unlikely, but blooming plants offer a haven for aphids: check new growth and buds for clusters of little bugs (which can be bright green, brown, or black, depending on what they eat!), and pay special attention to jasmine, citrus, hibiscus, and oleander for these sweet-loving bugs.

If you think you have a pest, take lots of pictures and send them to us for diagnosis!

As always, give us a call if you have questions about winter care for your houseplants.

Houseplant Care: Winter Edition

Albert Camus said – in French, obviously – “in the depths of winter, […] I found within me an invincible summer.” This is how houseplants make me feel in the middle of January: a glimpse of green, and a glow of sunlight. I take in a deep breath and my plants fill me with a tremendous sense of well-being. Tropical plants are the invincible summer that give us joy as we hope for spring. Like Camus’ inner paradise, houseplants need special care to get them through our harsh winters. His was a metaphorical message of optimism in adversity, but houseplants are a little more practical than that! Follow our tips on Light, Watering, and Pests, and maintain your joy in the depths of winter.

Houseplant Care: Winter Edition

Albert Camus said – in French, obviously – “in the depths of winter, […] I found within me an invincible summer.” This is how houseplants make me feel in the middle of January: a glimpse of green, and a glow of sunlight. I take in a deep breath and my plants fill me with a tremendous sense of well-being. Tropical plants are the invincible summer that give us joy as we hope for spring. Like Camus’ inner paradise, houseplants need special care to get them through our harsh winters. His was a metaphorical message of optimism in adversity, but houseplants are a little more practical than that! Follow our tips on Light, Watering, and Pests, and maintain your joy in the depths of winter.

Light

The intensity of light is drastically reduced in winter because the days are shorter. Interestingly, the sun is also lower in the sky, which means that the sun is reaching further into your home, although with less intensity. These changes in lighting might require you to move some plants, soI have the following thoughts:

· Succulents have a hard time without proper lighting; you will want to make sure succulents – and other bright light plants like yuccas, bananas, or birds of paradise – are as close to a south or west window as possible. (Lacking this direct light, you could employ a grow light to compensate).

· You’ll have to adjust plants that require bright indirect light on a case-by-case basis: as the light reaches further into west-and-south-facing homes, plants like fiddle leaf figs and monsteras might be fine where they are. However, in an east-facing location, they may fare better a little closer to the window.

· Low light plants like pothos should be observed at 1pm: are they getting hit with direct light? Make sure they remain in a shadier location.

· Ferns are great fun at this time of year because they are thought to be low light, but they might function best in east-facing locations. These might be brought closer to an east-facing window for the winter. Alternatively, they might do quite well in the middle of a room that faces south: they’ll benefit from light that’s slightly brighter during the day, but less intense overall.

The bottom line with lighting is to pay attention to your leaves: yellowing leaves can indicate a lack of light (if the plants is getting yellow leaves on the side away from the window, this is a good indication that the yellowing is not from overwatering).

Water

As seasons change, most people forget to change their watering schedule. And I say “schedule” with the greatest hesitation: I typically don’t recommend a “weekly” schedule, but rather a “check,” which is often misinterpreted to mean “always water” instead of “check and maybe water.”

· For tropicals: check the soil with your finger.Reach below the soil to the second knuckle, and only water the plant if the soil below the surface feels dry. You should find yourself watering way less overall.(*If your soil feels dry every week, you might have something else going on, like a plant that needs re-potting: stay tuned for that blog in the future!)

· For orchids and air plants: continue to soak orchids weekly and air plants every other week for about 30 to 40 minutes.

· For succulents, cacti, ZZ plants, and snake plants: check these once a month, but be prepared to water every other time you check. Water thoroughly and drain well.

Similarly: I don’t typically fertilize in the winter, but I have a few exceptions: if a plant has experienced stress – like a pest or repotting – I will use Liquid Schultz fertilizer. If (ok, when) I purchase a plant, I’ll use fertilizer. And I also fertilize my fiddle leaf fig all year long. I don’t know why, but that dude is just hungry all the time!

Pests

If there was a Bingo Card for “Houseplant Ailments” in the fall and winter, at least half the squares would say “fungus gnats,” and it would be the fastest game of Bingo: we get a dozen daily calls about fungus gnats. There’s a simple reason for that; fungus gnats lie dormant in most soils and become active when the water is so wet that roots start to grow fungus(hence the name “fungus” gnat). The bugs lay their eggs, and the larvae eat up the fungus on the roots. The adults crawl out of the soil, and the process begins again.

The simple solution here is to reduce your watering as soon as fall starts, to prevent the fungus from growing in the first place. But that’s hard for most of us to remember, so you can also use Nematodes to treat fungus gnats without chemicals.

Other pests can also occur in the winter. Catching a pest early means you are more likely to control it, so it’s best to do a scheduled pest check every two weeks or so.

· Spider mites are common on palms and crotons; wipe the leaves every other week to prevent the growth. Check the undersides of leaves frequently, and keep an eye out for microscopic spotting that kind of looks like a fine mist of yellow spray paint: this can be the first sign that the mites are slurping at the feast that is your plant.

· Mealy bugs love the humidity of tropical plants!Check the nooks and crevices for a cottony-white substance that indicates the mealy are laying eggs.

· Aphids are unlikely, but blooming plants offer a haven for aphids: check new growth and buds for clusters of little bugs (which can be bright green, brown, or black, depending on what they eat!), and pay special attention to jasmine, citrus, hibiscus, and oleander for these sweet-loving bugs.

If you think you have a pest, take lots of pictures and send them to us for diagnosis!

As always, give us a call if you have questions about winter care for your houseplants.

Houseplant Care: Winter Edition

Video

Houseplant Care: Winter Edition

December 31, 2021

Albert Camus said – in French, obviously – “in the depths of winter, […] I found within me an invincible summer.” This is how houseplants make me feel in the middle of January: a glimpse of green, and a glow of sunlight. I take in a deep breath and my plants fill me with a tremendous sense of well-being. Tropical plants are the invincible summer that give us joy as we hope for spring. Like Camus’ inner paradise, houseplants need special care to get them through our harsh winters. His was a metaphorical message of optimism in adversity, but houseplants are a little more practical than that! Follow our tips on Light, Watering, and Pests, and maintain your joy in the depths of winter.

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