Helping Houseplants in January
Helping Houseplants in January
As the temperatures fall and we cope with ice and snow, our houseplants become even more important for raising our spirits and reminding us about growth and renewal. Here are 9 tips for keeping your plants healthy so that you stay happy as well.
- This is a good time to clean the leaves on many plants. Large-leaf plants such as peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.), monstera (Monstera deliciosa), or Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) can be wiped with a household duster and then a moist, soft cloth. Plants with smaller leaves that aren’t too large can be placed in the shower or sink and washed with room temperature (not cold, not hot) water. Cleaning mimics what would happen if those plants grew out-of-doors; like in a good rainfall, the debris is washed away.
2. When cleaning a houseplant you should be on the lookout for insects. This is the time of year when the mealy bug, aphids, and scale show up in greater numbers. Cleaning will help remove both insects and the litter they create, but any plant with bug problems should also be sprayed with insecticidal soap after the plant is wiped clean.
3. Watering houseplants completely: Remember to water plants well when they start to look dry. Some people are afraid of over-watering, so they only give their houseplants a little at a time. This causes the roots to dry up and stresses the plant. Instead, provide a deep saucer underneath so that when you water you can do so throughly, soaking the entire root ball. Let the pot sit in the saucer of water for up to a day. If there is still water in the saucer after 24 hours it’s easily soaked up with an old bath towel or a turkey baster.
4. It’s a bit early to start fertilizing most indoor plants again, but putting a half-cup of earthworm castings on top of the soil is a great way to revive them and add to the health of their potting media. Plants in pots larger than 12″ in diameter can be top-dressed with a cup of earthworm castings. Most houseplants can be fertilized again in February or March, although citrus is the exception: citrus plants benefit from a mild feed once a month, year-round.
5. Rotate the plants in your windows so that they don’t become “one sided.” All plant foliage naturally leans toward the light, so turning the plants regularly can keep them evenly shaped. Some people make a habit of rotating their plants a quarter-turn every time they water.
6. Watch for new growth! Some plants, like the moth orchids, are triggered in flowering or growth by going through the shorter days of December. In January it’s common to see some new foliage or flowers on some indoor plants.
7. Don’t forget the pleasure of seasonal houseplants. There are many plants in the greenhouse that most people don’t grow for years and years in their homes, but get for a seasonal mood-lifter. Winter jasmine is great aromatherapy in January or February, for example, and primroses and fragrant hyacinths are good reminders that spring will come again. Oxalis, sometimes called shamrocks, come into the garden center in March, and forced tulips and daffodils arrive when spring is right around the corner.
8. Stage your plants! Making a new display of your houseplants is a way to be creative and help your indoor environment to be refreshed.
9. Learn about new plants and growing options. Join us for a virtual Houseplant Happy Hour on January 14th and the make-a-terrarium Sunday Seminar on the 23rd. Registration and more information here.
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