Whether it’s due to a lack of exterior legroom or simply because you love all things green and lush, scattering potted plants and –flowers around a house is nothing new. In fact, it’s a preferred option for many people who don’t want to commit to an entire outdoor space and the factors that come with it – like the weather.
But before you know it, the temperature has dropped and one comfortably hot season is exchanged for another much colder one. And that cool, crisp air has begun to creep indoors.
Where does that leave your prized potted pretties?
Let’s see how you can keep your indoor plants alive and thriving this winter.
First of all, know which local plants are great at adding colour to interiors and keeping indoor air clean while also surviving colder weather. Some of South Africa’s most popular options for indoor plants include:
• African violet,
• Peace lily, and
If, during the warmer months, your potted plants are kept near leaky windowsills or next to doors leading outside, consider moving them to other rooms where they won’t get as shocked by the colder air.
Be sure to also remove them from sources of heat, like fireplaces and radiators, as that hot air can be just as bad for them. For the best surviving conditions, keep your plants at a steady 18—24 °C.
Many houseplants go dormant during the autumn- and winter months, meaning they don’t require as much water or fertilizer. During this time, it’s best to follow standard watering advice and only water if the plant’s soil is dry 2 – 5 cm below the surface.
You’ll also need to check that your plants don’t just sit in too much water, as that could lead to root rot and fungus. As soon as you see yellow leaves or mouldy soil, reduce your watering frequency.
Plants love humidity levels around 50%, so if you’ve got a humidifier at home, keep it running. If you don’t, try grouping your pots together in the most humid rooms of your home (usually those are the kitchens and bathrooms).
Another option would be to place them atop a large tray or baking sheet filled with water, but ensure that the pots don’t touch the water. Place some stones or pebbles in there and put the plants on top.
To make sure your houseplants take full advantage of winter’s limited light, keep their leaves clean and free of dust in order to promote photosynthesis. Put a reminder on your calendar / phone to clean your plants every few weeks by:
1. Placing them in the bathtub, and
2. Using a handheld sprayer to give the leaves a gentle cleansing (or a damp towel to wipe dust and grime off).
Light is crucial for plants, which is why you should be very careful rotating your pots to ensure all of them get adequate sunshine during winter.
But let’s say you are enduring a typical Cape Town winter (rain, wind, and very little sun) – what then? Consider using a full-spectrum light bulb in a standard desk lamp for shining on your plants about 12 hours a day.
Want to make your dining room look more expensive? Of course you do…