Houseplants: ‘Extremely important’ to let plants ‘rest’ – how to care for indoor plants

Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants

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There are several varieties of houseplants, some which are easy to maintain and some which require extensive and specific care. However, all require more light, cleaning as well as making sure they are watered correctly.

Pol Bishop, gardening expert for Fantastic Gardeners, said: “It’s extremely important to allow your plants to rest over winter months. If you keep the plants fed and watered as much as you do in summer, their growth will be encouraged, which will lead to weak growth.

“As we all know, winter months have shorter days and less sunshine, that’s why it’s important to maximise the amount of light reaching your houseplants.

“Move them into a sunny conservatory or porch, so they get sunlight from multiple directions. 

“If those aren’t an option, move them onto a south or west-facing windowsill. I also recommend cleaning the windows inside and out to maximise the light exposure for your plants.”

Winter means that many may have the heating on for several hours each day, or for prolonged periods of time.

This can create a perfect environment for pests to occur on houseplants which can cause them to die.

The expert said: “A cosy house is the perfect environment for many plant pests, such as thrips, mealybugs, aphids and scale insects. 

“Inspect your plants carefully, looking under the leaves and the plant’s top. 

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“Check plants that have spent the summer in the garden, so you can avoid introducing new pests and remove any that you find. Inspect your plants on a regular basis during winter.”

When checking leaves, it is also important to give them a quick, regular clean.

This is because houseplants often gather a lot of dust, especially ones like snake plants.

Pol said: “This drastically reduces the light that reaches their leaves, making it difficult for them to manufacture food.

“Wipe the dust off them using a damp cloth or you can lightly shower the plant in lukewarm water for approximately five minutes.

According to the expert, the plants will need to be kept warm throughout winter, but not too close to any direct heat sources.

Pol explained: “Most plants need a temperature of 12 to 18 degrees celsius. They don’t like large temperature shifts, hence the reason why I strongly recommend to keep them away from cold droughts, open doors and windows.

“If you have plants on a windowsill, leave the curtains open if possible, as they can trap cold air at night.

“You can also move them off the windowsill at night. Also, make sure you keep them away from heat sources, such as AC, radiators or fireplaces, as heat can scorch delicate foliage.”

During summer months, houseplants need to be watered on a regular basis, although still don’t need large amounts of water to thrive.

While this can vary between houseplants, winter means that the plants can be watered less frequently.

The expert said: “Too much water will most likely lead to soft and weak growth or will rot because of the accumulated water in the compost.

“I recommend reducing the watering for houseplants to once every fortnight.

“Stop watering cacti entirely, water succulents every two to three weeks. Regarding winter flowering plants – water them once the compost gets dry.”

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