David Domoney provides advice on popular houseplants
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Houseplants are a low maintenance alternative to garden plants as they can withstand the changing temperatures of our humid homes. Caring for houseplants requires minimal effort, with regular watering being the most important factor when it comes to growing a strong and healthy plant. As the temperature drops and the winter weather sets in, how should you adjust your houseplant care routine?
How do I keep my indoor plants alive during winter?
While houseplants are well protected from the harsh winter weather, the temperature of our homes during winter can wreak havoc on the growth of indoor plants.
As the central heating gets dialled up and left on for longer, the air quality in the home can quickly deteriorate as it grows more humid.
Humidity itself won’t kill your plants, but failing to adjust your care routine as the winter sets in could leave your plants looking worse for wear.
To see your plants into the new year there is one key change you should make when caring for your plants, and it’s all to do with how you water them.
Despite house plants being grown indoors, their growth cycle is similar to garden plants.
As the daylight hours reduce and the sun makes a less frequent appearance, houseplants can enter a dormant stage which means they grow less and less.
All the time your houseplants are in this dormant state, they won’t require as much water or ‘food’ to encourage new growth, so you should always reduce watering through the winter months.
But the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says this isn’t the only thing you should change when watering your plants in the winter.
The RHS says: “Bring water to room temperature before use, particularly in winter. Cold water can kill.”
How to water houseplants in winter
When it comes to watering houseplants in winter it is important to break your existing routine and start fresh.
While regular watering may work from spring through to early autumn, houseplants are at risk of becoming waterlogged if overfed.
According to the RHS, there are a few simple rules you should follow when it comes to watering your indoor plants during winter.
Adjust watering based on the room temperature
While your heating may be active throughout the house, some areas will still be cooler than others.
The RHS says: “Plants in a cool room will need watering less often than plants in a warm room.”
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Always check the soil
Break your existing watering routine and use the soil test to determine when your plants actually need watering.
Simply use your index finger to poke into the soil and feel for moisture – when it is bone dry, it will need watering.
Take note of your water quality
While some plants will thrive on alkaline rich water, others will struggle to grow without the right kind of liquid.
Hard, chalky tap water is alkaline which ericaceous (acid loving) plants will struggle to thrive one.
Instead, water ericaceous plants with rainwater and avoid chlorine water or domestic water softeners as the salts can be highly toxic to plants.
Check the drainage system
You should always thoroughly water the pot of your plants to allow the roots to absorb the liquid and fuel new growth.
When watering your plants, check the drainage system to prevent stagnant water attracting gnats or causing a rotten or mouldy plant.
Container’s should always have a drainage hole to allow the water to escape, says the RHS.
Leave water to drain
Leave the water to drain away completely before re-watering your plant.
You should check the bottom of the pot for residual water or overgrown roots as this could drown the plant or stunt growth without room to grow.
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