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September 8, 2021 — 11:05 AM
As hard as it is to believe, fall is nearly here. And while you get your warmer blankets and favorite wool sweaters out of storage, don’t forget that your houseplants will require some seasonal care adjustments as well.
To find out how to help our favorite plants seamlessly transition from summer to fall, we asked gardening expert from Bloomscape Lindsay Pangborn for her top tips—including the biggest mistake she sees people make this time of year.
The No. 1 plant care mistake this time of year.
According to Pangborn, the biggest mistake she sees people make as we transition to the cooler months is continuing to water plants as much as they do in the summer.
“Generally, indoor plants do not need as much water as most people think, particularly in the fall and winter months when the days get shorter and growth slows down,” she tells mbg. And when you do overwater, you wind up with root rot, she notes, because the roots aren’t able to get enough oxygen.
To figure out when your plants do actually need water, Pangborn recommends the touch test. Simply push your finger into the soil about one to three inches, she explains, and if you feel moisture, you don’t need to water it. If it’s dry, water until it flows freely from the drainage holes, making sure there isn’t any excess standing water in the saucer.
Also, many indoor plants won’t grow nearly as much in the winter, aka “dormancy season.” As such, you don’t need to give your plants fertilizer, Pangborn says, adding “It’s important to give your plant a rest during the cooler winter months.”
Other ways to prepare your indoor plants for fall and winter:
1. Bring them back inside.
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If you brought any of your indoor plants outside to enjoy the summer sun, don’t forget to bring them back in! Pangborn says you’ll want to make sure you do this before the night temperature gets below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you do bring them in, “remove any fallen leaves, sticks, and debris that may have settled in between the stems of your plant or on the surface of the soil,” she recommends. This is also prime time to check your plants for any pests before you bring them in.
“I suggest cleaning your plants outside with a garden hose and some insecticidal soap or neem oil spray,” Pangborn adds.
2. Maintain proper humidity.
Your plants don’t have to worry much about humidity in the summer, but once the heater kicks on as it gets cold, the air can get super dry—which your plants won’t love. “Most of the indoor foliage plants are tropical and love humidity,” Pangborn notes.
She suggests making sure your plants are getting adequate humidity by investing in a humidifier, as well as misting around your plants periodically.
You can also use a tray of pebbles and water to place your plants on. Simply add enough water to a tray with a layer of pebbles so the pebbles aren’t completely submerged, and place your planter on top. “As the water evaporates from the tray,” Pangborn explains, “it increases the moisture in the air around the plant, and the pebbles hold the plant above the water so that the roots are not constantly wet.”
Grouping plants together in your home can also create a nice microclimate, she adds, and will help keep up the humidity for the group in that area.
And once in a while, some plants enjoy a nice shower, which will offer extra moisture, in addition to cleaning off any dust from the foliage, she says.
3. Take note of any changes in lighting.
And last but not least, you’ll also want to take note of the way the angle of the sun hits your plants throughout the day. According to Pangborn, you’ll want to move your plants accordingly. For example, she says, “If your plant was near a window shaded by a tree, the sun’s rays will be more intense once the leaves fall, and you’ll need to move your plant back a bit so as to avoid burning its foliage.”
Plants’ needs change throughout the year, just like us! While you may not see as much growth from your plants in the colder months, rest assured, proper care will keep them vibrant and strong, all year long.
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