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Our2Sence on Biophilia

Prepare and Care for Overwintering Interiorscapes

Posted: November 2, 2021
Author: Jennifer Acorn

Why you shouldn't water your houseplants too often in the winter.

Winter indoor plant care can be confusing, but making the right modifications will help your plants thrive. Follow these steps to ensure your potted plants look good for years to come.

Winter indoor plant care can be confusing, but making the right modifications will help your plant to thrive. Follow these guidelines to ensure your potted plants look good for years to come.

Dealing with houseplants in the winter is an entirely different situation than summer care. It’s easy to assume that indoor plants won’t experience changes in the seasons like their outdoor counterparts, but, in reality, the cooler temperatures, dryer air, and lessened light exposure of winter months can make a big difference in growth rates and vitality.

Here’s what you need to know about winter care for your houseplants to ensure you keep them at their healthiest, no matter the time of year.

Many houseplants enter a stage of dormancy in the winter. This means that the plant stops putting energy into new growth and instead hunkers down to conserve energy levels for the following year.

Entering dormancy means that a plant needs less of everything: less water, sunlight, and nutrients. In fact, providing plants with too much of any of the three can lead to problems. Overwatering houseplants in the winter can lead to weak growth or root rot when the plant fails to draw it all in — stunting or even killing it in the long run.

The actual amount of water needed will vary by species. Some, like tropicals, will require similar amounts all year long. Others, such as drought-tolerant cacti and hardy succulents, won’t need any water for weeks at a time.

In order to meet your plant’s specific needs, you must research its growing habits so you can modify your care plan to meet its requirements.

While the care instructions for your houseplant will vary based on variety, some standard rules apply to most. Here are eight steps you can take to keep them in top condition until the weather warms again.

1. Monitor the Soil

When it comes to caring for houseplants, most people err on the side of giving them too much water in the winter. In reality, you only need to water when the top few inches of soil are dry to the touch. Stick your finger up to your first knuckle down into the pot and feel for moisture. If any is present, wait a few more days before watering.

2. Stick with Warm Water

One of the worst ways to shock indoor plants in the winter is by watering them with cold water. A better option is to use room temperature or slightly warmer water so you avoid shocking the roots. Tap water gets cold fast in the winter, so feel it with your fingers to gauge the temperature before using it on a plant.

3. Pay Attention to Humidity

Indoor heat in the winter often leads to dry air, with humidity levels dropping 20 percent or more. Your skin will suffer from it, but the problem is far worse for houseplants, which prefer humidity levels closer to 50 percent.

Consider moving your plants to a steamy bathroom or putting them in a room with a humidifier. It’s also smart to cluster potted plants together. They will naturally release water through their leaves in a process called transpiring, which keeps the relative humidity higher when near each other.

Another option is to place plants on or near trays of water with pebbles placed in the bottom. This raises the relative humidity without leading to root rot.

4. Mist Regularly

While plants pull up water through their roots, they also appreciate some moisture on their leaves. Misting indoor plants offers many benefits. Not only does it keep plants hydrated, but it helps control dust and deters pests.

For best results, use a spray bottle and mist multiple times a day. Indoor air will cause the water droplets to evaporate quickly. Refrain from misting as much in the spring and summer as the humid conditions could lead to fungal problems.

5. Pay Attention to Temperature

Temperature fluctuations tend to get more extreme in the winter. Plants situated by a sunny window might get scorched during the day but suffer from near-freezing temperatures once evening arrives.

Protect indoor plants by keeping them away from cold drafts (doorways, windows) and sources of heat (ovens, fireplaces, electronics). They will do better when the temperature stays consistent all day long.

6. Consider Sunlight Exposure

Sun-loving plants often struggle in the winter, even when situated near a south-facing window. That’s because winter sunlight tends to be weaker and hit a lower angle in the sky, meaning that the rays that hit the plant are less powerful.

You may need to supplement your potted plants with artificial grow lights to keep them vibrant. Consider also cleaning your windows to ensure they let in as much light as possible.

7. Clean the Leaves

Sometimes, a gentle misting isn’t enough to keep plants clean, and you need to go deeper. Many indoor plants accumulate dust in their crevices that leave them looking dingy. Wipe them down with a damp cloth, or place the pot in a shower running lukewarm water to spruce things up.

8. Limit Fertilizer Use

Because many indoor plants enter dormancy in the winter, they aren’t as heavy feeders as usual. This means you should pull back on your fertilizer use to lessen the risk of upsetting their natural growing cycle. Wait until you see signs of new growth or greening before adding any plant food to the pot.

Note: Tropical plants often grow year-round and may require fertilizer in the winter.

Winter Indoor Plant Care is Well Worth It

Caring for potted plants in the winter can be a challenge, but it’s not as tricky as many people think. By understanding the needs of your specific varieties, and knowing whether they will grow or enter dormancy in the winter, you can take steps to adjust your treatment strategy to best meet their needs.

So, slow down on watering, lay off the fertilizer, and keep things warm and humid to ensure your potted plants will thrive.

Contact us for more information.

Posted: September 20, 2021
Author: Jennifer Acorn

It all boils down to: Water.

Even though interiorscapes reside year-round in relatively temperature-controlled indoor climates, overwintering plants can become stressed by fluctuating temperatures, excessively hot or dry air, less light from shorter days, and seasonal pests. Keep interiorscapes thriving by modifying their care during the cooler months of the year.

It all boils down to: Water.

Contrary to intuition, winter poses far more complexity to keeping interiorscapes correctly moist than any other season. Depending on many factors including the consistency of the temperature maintained around the plants, the humidity of the air, the amount of evaporation and transpiration, and the quantity of light exposure, interiorscapes suffering from too little or too much water are easily susceptible to infections or infestations.

Temperature and humidity fluctuations, either too hot or too cold, near interiorscapes are the most common adversaries to maintaining healthy moisture content. In addition to hardening or moving plants near exterior doorways where freezing air frequently enters, redirect or block HVAC vents blowing directly on plants as well as heating (or cooling) elements nearby. Plants prefer temperature and humidity consistency above all else. Although plants enjoy cooler temperatures at night, ensure a minimum of 55 degrees at night for maximum health.

Not to be underestimated is moisture loss from evaporation (from the soil) and transpiration (through the leaves). Interiorscapes comprised of plants in small containers or planters with low soil mass to root ratio have the hardest time with evaporation stress. Green walls and similar installations require greater attention to detail than do installations in large planters. Likewise, plants with broad or soft leaves transpire more quickly than do small or waxy leaved plants so understanding what kind of plants comprise your installations is essential for interiorscape health.

Complicating the mix is the natural transition of light (as well as heat) exposure throughout the winter months. Plants gradually phase through a dormant or semi-dormant cycle which impacts watering (as well as fertilizing) schedules to the extent that any routine must be monitored and adjusted weekly if not daily.

Our2Sense: Measure soil moisture.

At a minimum we recommend deploying manual moisture meters in as many containers or installations as needed to adequately sample and measure the moisture in various similar planters. Checking the meters daily will go the longest way to ensuring healthy overwintering interiorscapes.

For large, commercial, or specialized installations, a moisture meter system which monitors (measures, tracks, alerts, and even regulates) is ideal. While these systems are more expensive, costs are no longer prohibitive to the individual or private client now.

Contact us for more information.

What human metabolic changes occur in biophilic working environments?

Posted: July 6, 2021
Author: Jennifer Acorn