Houseplants in Winter – Water requirements of plants indoors are different from when they were outdoors. While outdoors, plants were exposed to higher light levels, wind evaporation and heat so they needed a lot of water. Once they were brought back indoors for the fall or winter seasons, their water needs drastically lessen. For example, a plant that needs watering once a day will only require watering once a week when indoors.
Do Not Overwater
Overwatering is the main killer of indoor plants. Indications that your houseplant is drowning are as follows:
– the plant’s lower leaves are turning yellow and are dropping off
– some plants have brown or black spots on their leaves
– the roots of the plant become mushy and turn black or brown in color (to see this symptom, you need to tip the plant off its container)
– the plant is wilting
Test for Moisture or Dryness
In order to determine whether your houseplant needs watering, do the moisture or dryness test. To do this, simply poke a finger in the soil to root depth. If you have a 4-inch pot, push your finger down to your first or second knuckle; go deeper if you have larger pots.
If the soil feels moist, you don’t have to water but check again in a day or two. If the soil feels dry, you need to water the plant.
Do not use the surface of the potting soil as indicator of dryness or moistness. In winter, the surface and upper level of the soil tend to dry out quickly due to the furnace running.
There are two methods of watering that are great for houseplants…
1. Put the entire pot or container in a tray filled with water and let the water soak upward to the surface of the potting soil. Then remove the container and set in the sink to drain. This method of watering houseplants also prevents damping-off and other fungal diseases.
2. The second method is to put the pot in the sink and pour water on the surface of the potting soil until water starts to drain from the pot’s bottom. Wait for the water to stop draining then water once more. Let excess water drain away before setting the pot back to its place.
Humidity levels indoors are lower than in a greenhouse. For plants that require high humidity, set them in the kitchen or bathroom where humidity levels are higher than the rest of the house.
You can also put a cloche (a tall, bell-shaped, plant covering that is made of glass) over the plant to maintain higher humidity level.
Plants brought back indoors for the winter do not require a lot of fertilizer.
Dried or burned leaf edges and wilted plants are indication of over-fertilization. The buildup of salts due to too much fertilizer can also cause root damage.
Leach plants periodically to lessen fertilizer salt buildup. To leach plants, put the pot in a deep sink or bathtub. Mix a teaspoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water then pour the mixture in the pot a little bit at a time. Do this until the mixture drains from the bottom of the pot. Leave pot in the sink to allow the mixture to completely drain away. Epsom salt has magnesium that will attach to the salts and pull them out of the potting soil.