Tips on Houseplant Care in the Spring
Now that spring has sprung, you’ve probably spent the last few weeks tending to your outside garden, well your indoor plants need some spring loving too. Find out how to prep your houseplants for the new growing season.
Houseplants On Windowsill
Foliage plants can dress a windowsill with strong color when you choose a mix like this line up: variegated ivy (Hedera), purple passion plant (Gynura), variegated Schefflera, pink Hemigraphis and variegated Dracaena. Elevate your indoor plants by slipping them into white cache pots for an elegant look.
Spring’s arrival doesn’t just kick landscape plants into growing gear. It has the same effect on indoor plants, too. As spring begins to unfold, days get longer, the sun marches further north, and temperatures start to climb. The combined effect of these events acts like a spark to ignite new growth in houseplants.
Spring is the green light that signals “go” to plants all around you — indoors and out. Learn what to do to take advantage of spring’s effects on houseplants with these easy care tips.
During winter, it’s natural to move plants closer to windows to catch all the rays they can. With spring’s arrival, it’s a good idea to protect plants from the sun’s hottest rays, especially at south- and west-facing windows. Otherwise, you might see some leaf burn, especially with tender new growth.
To test if sunlight is too intense, put your hand into the sunlight at the time of day it’s brightest at a window. If your hand feels uncomfortably hot, the light is probably too much for your plants. A sheer curtain filters sunlight effectively. If you have succulents and cacti, though, they’ll welcome the heat. Bring it on. Don’t forget to turn plants weekly, so all leaves receive equal exposure to sunlight.
As day length increases, plants need to be watered more often. If you’re used to watering plants once weekly in winter, schedule a mid-week check to see if they need an extra splash of water. If plants are wilting daily, they likely need to be repotted if the soil is dry. If soil is moist and wilting occurs, you’re probably dealing with root rot, a problem that comes from overwatering. Treat yourself to a pretty copper watering can like this one to turn watering into an elegant chore.
As you tackle spring cleaning around the house, add houseplants to your list. Remove any dead leaves on soil, and snip any that are still attached to the plant. Also, gather any spent blooms. Keeping leaves dust-free is a good way to help prevent pest and disease outbreaks.
- A spray mister can help remove dust on non-hairy leaves. Simply spray leaves and wipe them down — top and bottom surfaces — with a soft cloth.
- With hairy leaves (think African violet or gloxinia), use a small paintbrush, toothbrush or pipe cleaner to brush dust from leaves. Choose soft bristle brushes for this job, or you risk wounding leaves.
- For cacti, use a can of compressed air to gently whoosh dust from between spines.
- Give plants a shower by setting small pots in a deep sink and spritzing them with a gentle spray. Or place pots in a shower and let the water run for about 10 minutes. Cover your drain with a small piece of screen to keep dirt out. Let plants drip dry before returning them to their favorite spots in your home.
As plants awaken in spring, you’ll start to see new leaves appearing. This is the perfect time to give your indoor greenery a post-winter snack. Feed plants with a water-soluble fertilizer every other watering, diluting it to 50 percent. This is a mild way to nourish plants as spring starts. Many houseplant experts suggest always using a 50 percent solution for plant food, but if you want to increase to full strength, wait until early to mid-June.
There’s no hard and fast rule on how often houseplants need to be repotted. But if you have plants that need water daily, the soil is likely root-filled, a sign it’s time to repot. When repotting, increase pot size only by 1" to 2" in diameter. It’s a good idea to repot plants that have been in the same pot for more than two or three years. Fresh potting soil encourages healthy new root growth.
You don’t have to shift your plant to a larger pot when repotting. It can stay in the same pot provided you do a little root pruning. Remove up to one-third of existing roots before tucking it back into the same pot (in fresh soil).
Another way to celebrate spring is to dress up houseplants with bright cachepots. Make your own using cheerful colored containers decorated with duct tape pieces (above).
Watch the Temp
The majority of houseplants crave temps from 65° F to 75° F. If you have windows open at night to savor fresh air, make sure the drafts aren’t too cool for nearby plants. When days heat up and you turn on the AC, double-check that houseplants aren’t too close to the vents.