Winter care of houseplants by Krista Harding

Krista harding
District Extension Officer, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786

I always find my house looks a bit bare after the holidays when the tree is downed and all the holiday knickknacks are put away. To be completely honest, it can be depressing! Winter months can be extremely long for many people.

One way to brighten up your home a bit is to add a new houseplant. Right after the holidays you will find new arrivals of houseplants in stores.

Plants in stores will look great, but they may not stay that way for long after you bring home. One of the reasons for this is that these plants are grown in a climate controlled light greenhouse. Our homes are certainly not even close to greenhouse conditions. But a few simple things can help you grow your houseplants more successfully.

Plants grow during times of bright light, such as summer, and this is the time to provide sufficient water and fertilizer. Winter is a period of low light and plants should be allowed to go dormant. During dormancy, do not apply fertilizer and provide only small amounts of water. Remember that plants grow in summer and sleep in winter. Do not force a plant to grow during the winter.

Light is probably the most essential factor for the growth of houseplants. A plant needs light from five directions. Obviously, this is not possible in most homes. But you can increase the availability of light. To acclimate a new plant that has been grown in high light conditions, place it in a brightly lit area (southern exposure) of your home and gradually move it to its permanent, darker location over a period of four to four. eight weeks.

Most foliage plants prefer daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, with nighttime temperatures typically 5-10 degrees cooler. Avoid extreme temperature changes, such as blowing cold and hot air from windows, radiators, heating and air conditioning vents.

Ninety-five percent of plant problems are caused by improper watering. The amount of water a plant needs is influenced by several factors. Not only the size and species of the individual plant are important, but also the growing conditions. Light, temperature, humidity, container type, container size and finally the type of soil all influence the rate of growth and therefore the amount of water needed. It is best to research individual plant types for their watering needs.

The frequency of fertilizer application varies somewhat depending on the individual plant. Some need it every two weeks, while others will flower well for several months without any supplementation. As a general rule, fertilize every two weeks from March to September.

Here are some common plant symptoms and their possible causes:

General defoliation

  • Sudden change in temperature
  • The transplant shock
  • Sudden change in light intensity
  • excessive watering
  • Lack of light

Browning of leaf tips

  • Bad watering
  • Exposure to cold drafts
  • Insect attack
  • excess fertilizer

Krista Harding is a K-State Horticultural Research and Extension Officer assigned to the District of Southwind. She can be reached at [email protected] or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer.

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