GARDENER’S COLUMN: Winter maintenance of indoor plants | Home & Garden

Houseplants tend to need less water as growth slows during the winter. In many cases, the top of the soil will appear dry, but the soil near the bottom of the pot will be moist. Before watering, stick your finger into the soil to see how dry the soil really is, or just pick up the pot. If the pot seems light, water the plant. You can also pot the plant in a sink of room temperature water. After about 15 minutes, allow the plant to drain. One thing to keep in mind is that plants that are near air vents or in bright windows tend to dry out much faster, so you may need to water them more often.

Fertilizing in winter is usually not necessary as growth slows or the plant goes dormant. Wait until late winter or early spring for new growth, then start fertilizing as needed. The exception is flowering plants such as African violets and orchids.

Temperature is also important to monitor. Plants tend to like the same temperatures as us; daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and cooler at night. However, African violets and orchids tend to like it a bit warmer. As a bonus, cooler night temperatures can help control insect pests.

Finally, check your plants for any insects. Determine what they are before dealing. Giving them a lukewarm shower once a month will not only help control insects, but will also help remove dust that interferes with photosynthesis. Take this time to give your houseplants some TLC – a little is enough to keep your plants healthy.

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