For those of us hanging out in the Southern Hemisphere, things are starting to feel a little chilly.
The days are getting shorter and its waaaay harder to get out of bed in the morning. My light-filled apartment is starting to look a whole lot darker as we spend our first winter here, and while I've been busy shuffling heaters and looking at good winter soup recipes, its also important to think about what your plant fam is going to need over the next few months.
As the temperature drops and the sun gets lower (and hangs around a lot less), your plants are going to slow down a bit.
With less sunlight, they won't be growing as much, which means they won't be as thirsty or hungry* as they were over spring and summer.
The following are our tips for keeping your indoor plants cheering over the colder months.
1. Start to reduce your watering
This is a big one! If you've gotten into a routine over Spring and Summer, snap out of it. You'll notice the potting media stays damp longer and you should cut back the frequency of your waterings or risk root rot. Go back to the old habit of sticking your finger in the potting media (down to the second knuckle is a good rule of thumb) so you can get an idea of how dry the mix is and how much (if any) water is needed.
If you don't want to get your fingers dirty, try a moisture meter. If you do though, we still recommend checking the soil every so often to make sure the moisture meter hasn't gone rogue and is misleading you!
2. Think about temperatures
As the temperature drops and heaters go on, take a look around your space and make sure you haven't got any plants sitting too close to a heat source. Think about ducted heating, reverse-cycle aircon, heaters, fireplaces.
By the same token, you might want to shuffle plants away from doors and windows that are used a lot. The cold drafts can shock plants.
Most of what we refer to as 'indoor plants' are often tropical climate plants, so they can freak out if left in temperatures below 15C for too long. If you have any of these guys outdoors think about bringing them inside for the winter.
3. Where is the sun?
Not only is there less light throughout the day during winter, but the light that is there is on a lower angle. Pay attention to how the sun has shifted and adjust your plants accordingly. That sunny summer room might be a whole heap darker all of a sudden...either do a little plant shuffle or think about using grow lights.
4. Cut back the feeding.
Plants need to be fed when they are actively growing. If you know you plants have gone into dormancy - that is, they're not growing at all - hold off the feeding until Spring. If your plants are still growing, but slowly, just feed them once at a diluted rate.
If you're using grow lights and your plants are still throwing out new growth, feed them as usual.
5. Stay humid
We've left this until the end as this is a big one. Humidity in our homes drops like crazy over winter. This is because heating tends to dry the air out and many of our indoor tropical plants need a humid environment to thrive.
Try to cluster plants together to create their own biospheres and take advantage of the other plants' transpiration. Another option is putting your plants on trays of pebbles with water under them so the plants can take advantage of the evaporating water. Just make sure the pebbles are higher than the water level.
Our recommendation? Get a humidifier. Many of your plants, especially Aroids and Maranataceae, will thank you for it. They're quiet, usually small enough to fit on a shelf and most won't break the bank.