Just on a whim..I decided to browse a few websites to gather information for proper watering methods you should use for your houseplants. Especially during the winter months. What I found was ALARMING! Not a wonder that I hear so many stories about plants that died from over-watering.
First of all, it may be impossible for anyone to tell you EXACTLY what amount of water each type of plant needs. You have to take into consideration several factors. What type of plant is it? What type of soil, light, temperature or humidity?
Plants with large or very thin leaves and those with fine surface roots usually require more frequent watering.
Plants in a warm, dry, sunny location need more frequent watering . (Watch out for heated air directly from vents.)
A large plant in a small pot will need water more often. Larger pots tend to need less water. Be careful not to use a pot that is way to large for your plants. The roots need time to fill the soil area. Standing wet soil tends to sour when it isn’t being used by your plant.
Flowering plants and rapidly growing plants dry out quickly. However, most plants will be resting during winter months and not grow as quickly!
Different potting mixes require different watering schedules. Coconut based mixes are being used more often these days, and that’s a good thing! It tends to have good draining qualities. Our least favorite mixes will be soil based or contain moisture retention products and we DO NOT recommend them for houseplants.
Water evaporates quicker from the sides of a clay pot than from plastic or glazed pots.
Not all plants need the same amount of moisture; some like to dry out between waterings, others need to be kept moist.
What is the proper humidity level for houseplants during the winter months?
Many houseplants prefer a relative humidity of 40 to 50 percent. Unfortunately, the humidity level in many homes during the winter months may be only 10 to 20 percent. Humidifiers are an excellent way to increase the relative humidity in the home. Grouping plants together is an easy way to raise the humidity level. The water evaporating from the potting soil, plus water lost through the plant foliage, will increase the relative humidity in the vicinity of the houseplants. Another method is to place houseplants on trays (saucers) filled with pea gravel or pebbles. Add water to the trays, but keep the bottoms of the pots above the water line. The evaporation of water from the trays increases the relative humidity.
Misting houseplants is not an effective way to raise the relative humidity. Plant foliage dries quickly after misting. Misting would have to be done several times a day to be effective and is not practical for most individuals. We would never recommend it.
What is the proper temperature for houseplants during the winter months?
Most houseplants grow well with daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and night temperatures of 60 to 65 F. Temperatures below 50 F or rapid temperature fluctuations may harm some plants. Keep houseplants away from cold drafts, radiators and hot air vents. Also make sure houseplant foliage doesn’t touch cold windows.
Lighting varies greatly. Do your homework where lighting is concerned for each type of plant. Keep in mind,during the winter months the days are shorter and generally overcast. Watering is going to be less frequent than it is during the long hot days of summer.
Ready for watering?
With this information in mind, when watering houseplants, water until the water starts to puddle or the surface soil lifts. Some water might flow through the potting soil and out the bottoms of the pots. Discard the excess water as soon as possible. Plants should NEVER be sitting directly in water.
If a plant should go too dry. Do not over-compensate by taking it to the sink and drowning it! What should you do instead? Give a small amount of water and let it take it in for about 15 minutes. Then apply a bit more. Repeat until the moisture is correct for that type of plant. If the water just runs straight through, you can go ahead and let the water sit in the tray for no more than 20 minutes. Too much water can deplete the oxygen supply in the soil. Then the already stressed plant roots can start to rot. I would recommend using the plant hormone SUPERThrive at this point. I’ve seen this stuff bring plants that looked dead back to life. SUPERthrive isn’t a fertilizer so you can use it anytime ANY plant looks stressed.
Again..Use the SUPERthrive! When plants are brought indoors in fall you may see some drastic changes. Environmental conditions indoors are less favorable than those outdoors. Plants may respond to this stress by dropping leaves. Plants will be able to adjust to their indoor environment fairly quickly if they receive good, consistent care. Poor or inconsistent care will prolong the adjustment period. About 4-6 weeks is normal.
I am often asked….Should houseplants be fertilized in winter?
Fertilization is generally not necessary during the winter months because most houseplants are growing very little or resting. Instead you should fertilize your houseplants on a regular basis in spring and summer when the plants are actively growing.
Thank you for reading my BLOG! I hope this helps! I know I feel better! :O)