All Year Long Care For Your Houseplants

Most houseplants require some care year round. But exactly what you do is heavily influenced by the season. Most houseplant species have an active growing season in the Spring and early Summer, followed by a tapering off in the Fall. Many become dormant in Winter, even though the temperature in the house remains relatively warm.

That variation grows out of the change in the amount of sunlight available, but also from generations of genetic development the species saw in the wild. Most are not completely insensitive to the uniform temperature provided by an indoor environment, but they still have many genetic drivers that cause their natural cycle to remain intact.

That means that the care you give them should follow that cycle, even for plants kept continually in the house.

Most, for example, will do well with a good fertilizer applied in the mid-Spring when their growth stage is ramping up. As the amount of sunlight grows in Summer, they’ll need less. For flowering plants the time after their blooms fall is a signal to taper off sharply of any extra feed. During the dormant season in Winter, they should receive none at all.

Applying fertilizer at a time the plant can’t absorb it can lead to a kind of chemical burning, root destruction and the death of the plant. Foregoing it when they need that extra help can result in failure to thrive and lack of fruits or flowers.

how to care for houseplants

Watering follows a similar rising and falling pattern.

Water is a medium for transporting needed chemicals from the soil, through the roots, up the stem and branches, and out to the leaves. It also participates directly in many biochemical reactions. But, as with animals, too much water can be harmful. For plants, the amount is even more critical because of their stationary character.

During the warmer, dryer months a plentiful amount of water is needed by the majority of houseplant species. The exact amount varies from plant to plant, depending on species, soil composition, pot size and other factors. Some require none at all. But on average, most will need some, and more during the Spring and Summer.

That water helps support the growth and also helps keep roots and leaves cool. Most will shut down their pores during the day, when the temperature rises, then open up later on. That’s a natural response which has evolved to conserve water. Since they’re inside, adjust the watering schedule to accommodate the actual temperature and the amount of sunlight they’re receiving.

The most common problems with houseplants are the result of overwatering. Providing good drainage and following the guidelines for your specific circumstances is paramount. That problem becomes bigger in Winter, when people have a tendency to continue the same routine they did during the warmer months. Even though the temperature in the house may vary only a few degrees year round, your plant ‘knows’ what time of year it is. Adjust the watering schedule accordingly.

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