Preparing Your Houseplants for Fall
Autumn is a season of change and transition. As the nights grow cooler and longer, the world outside slows down in preparation for its winter sleep. While our houseplants are protected by the four walls we call home, their natural instinct is to sleep for the winter as well. So, lets take a minute to consider caring for our indoor plants, and how we can help them along during these coming months.
I love decorating for fall. It is usually around this time of year that I break out all the cozy throw blankets and rearrange my furniture about a hundred times to find a layout that fits. A big part of this furniture shuffle is to accommodate window space for my houseplants. Which leads to my first point for autumnal plant care…
Addressing the Changing Light Conditions
As autumn unfolds, the intensity and duration of sunlight is dramatically reduced. This change in light condition surely effects the development of our houseplants. To ensure that our beloved green pals receive adequate light, moving them closer to a window or investing in grow lights can definitely be helpful. Grow lights used to seem like such an ordeal to me… buying an expensive (and often ugly) light fixture and dedicating a whole shelf to it. But nowadays, you can simply purchase a smart LED grow lightbulb and replace it with whatever bulb you had in your lamp. Growing plants indoors doesn’t have to take a toll on the esthetic of your home anymore.
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Assess the light requirements of each plant and adjust accordingly. Plants that require bright, direct sunlight may need to be relocated to sunnier spots, while those that prefer indirect light can be placed in shadier areas of the home.
This next tip ties in with light conditions, but focuses on absorption…
Cleaning & Dusting Plants
Believe it or not, dust on a plant’s leaves can substantially thwart its growth. As dust and grime accumulate on the leaves, it hinders their ability to photosynthesize effectively. During these shorter days we need to help our plants optimize their time in the sun by ensuring that their leaves are clean and ready to soak it all up! Keeping foliage clean is such an important part of plant care, especially for large-leafed plants like figs, monsteras and rubber plants.
And while you’re cleaning, be sure to check for pests. This is especially crucial if you are bringing plants in from outside. One infested plant can spread to many in no time. So be sure to look on the underside of the leaves, and if you can, remove the plant from the pot to inspect the soil too. If you come across any mites, gnats, mealy bugs, or the like, be sure to treat accordingly before relocating near any other houseplants.
If you have been feeding your plants over the spring and summer, now is the time to stop. A general rule of thumb for our zone is to call it quits on fertilizing from October-April. Over the colder months, our plants like to rest, and if it’s cold enough, perhaps even go dormant. So don’t panic and feed them if you aren’t seeing growth. Just follow their lead and take things slow!
- Spraying the leaves with a mister
- Put a humidifier near your plants
- Make a pebble tray for your plants to sit on
- Group many plants together
Last, but most definitely not least…The number one change to make concerning houseplants… (drum roll here)
During this in-between time when it’s cool, but not cool enough to turn the heat on, potting mix will take longer to dry. So, plants that were once watered daily, may only need watering weekly. And plants that were watered weekly, can go much longer without a drink. Initially, as our plants adapt to autumn, the odd leaf may turn yellow. It is important not to panic and water right away. This could simply be the plants way of adjusting to lower light and cooler temperatures. Assess the situation first by sticking your fingers about an inch or so deep into the soil to check for moisture. If it feels slightly moist, hold off on watering for a few more days. Remember, it is better to underwater than to overwater. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases which can be tricky to come back from. If you are new to the plant game, and unsure about your houseplants watering requirements perhaps consider investing in a moisture meter. This takes away the guess work and will help you to learn your plants needs.
Fall has us all cozying up inside, and I can’t think of a better way to add warmth to a space than by filling it with gorgeous greenery. Leaves on the trees outside are the only ones we want to see falling on the ground! Follow these tips and your houseplants will thank you.