At this time of year, it’s easy to find yourself with a few new houseplants. They’re the outdoor plants that you can’t bear to toss out as winter weather arrives. The tropicals brighten winter days with their blooms; herbs, such as rosemary, add to winter cooking. However, these plants are vulnerable to conditions inside your home. Here are tips for keeping your winter guests happy and healthy until spring:
- Don’t be surprised if the plants show signs of stress, such as leaf drop. Managing light and temperature are key to getting your winter guests through the season. Figure out where your sunniest locations are. In most cases, unobstructed, south-facing windows will let in the most light. If your windowsills aren’t especially sunny, consider using grow lights and stands.
- Watch for bugs. Some plants, such as geraniums, are usually trouble-free. However, many of the tropicals (such as hibiscus) are especially vulnerable to insects. Be alert and be ready. Like most things, early detection is key. I am never without a spray bottle of neem, which comes in handy to control aphids, scale, whitefly and other pests.
- Dry, indoor air is hard on most plants. Plus, it increases their vulnerability to pests. If your home is dry, try using trays with humidity grids.
For more advice on overwintering, check out the following articles:
- Overwintering Tender Plants: Most gardeners are too tender-hearted—and thrifty—to let a good plant go to waste. If you grew a few tropical plants in your garden this summer, learn how to keeping them thriving until spring.
- Tender Perennial Problems Indoors: By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, University of Vermont. Temperature, and its balance with light, are the two most important conditions for successful overwintering of tender perennials indoors, in addition to proper watering. Your plants will show symptoms if these conditions aren’t to their liking, but these may be confused with other causes, and once they show these it may be too late! While perennials are hardy in their native climates, in colder regions they may grow as an annual, and so are called “tender perennials.” These include such plants as coleus, cannas, geraniums, and sages or salvia.
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