- 9 Ways To Keep Your House Plants Alive This Winter
- Move Plants Closer to Windows, but not too Close
- Clean Your Windows
- Dust your Plants off
- Add Artificial Light
- Keep Your Home Warm
- Maintain humidity
- Keep Plants Away from Drafts or Heating Vents
- Get New Planters
- Water Your Plants Less
- 1. Plant them in cloches or cold frames
- 2. Protect Your Potted Plants
- 3. Apply Mulch
- 4. Bring In Your Exotic Plants
- 5. Grow Plants That Will Flower During Spring
- Give them light
- Give them water
- Watch the temperature
- Prune and repot
- Watch for pests
- Why Plants are Worth the Winter Care
- Winter Plant Care – How To Keep Plants Alive Over Winter
- Winter Plant Care
- When to Start Overwintering Plants in Pots
- Less Water
- Dust Them
- How *Not* to Kill Your Plants This Winter
- Help Your Outdoor Plants Survive the Cold
- Keep Indoor Plants Happy
- Tips to Keep Potted Houseplants Alive
- Keep Outside Potted Plants Alive
- Learn More About Caring for Your Potted Plants
- How To Keep Outdoor Plants Alive Through Winter
- How to keep plants alive in this blistering summer heat
- WATER, WATER, THEN WATER AGAIN
- FEED FOR MORE BLOOMS
- GROOM TO KEEP THE SHAPE
9 Ways To Keep Your House Plants Alive This Winter
We love our plants. Not only do they function as wonderful decorations, but they also clean and purify the air in our homes and apartments. But winter is coming, and chances are your plants weren’t designed to withstand freezing temperatures. If you want your precious green friends to survive until spring, follow our nine steps for keeping your plants alive during the winter season.
Image via Lifehack.
Move Plants Closer to Windows, but not too Close
As the days gradually shorten, your plants are going to receive less natural sunlight, and so to make use of the sunlight that is available, move your plants closer to a window. But don’t move them too close. If your windows freeze over, make sure that your plants have enough distance from the glass, so they don’t freeze too.
Image via House Logic.
Clean Your Windows
And once your plants are closer to windows, make sure to keep the windows clean, to let in as much light as possible. The extra light will help you and your plants stay healthy and happy until the weather gets warmer.
Image via Marie Claire Maison.
Dust your Plants off
Show your plants a little TLC and wash off their dirty leaves with a damp washcloth. Not only will they look better, but they’ll be able to absorb light more efficiently, which is particularly important during this time of year.
Image via HGTV.
Add Artificial Light
If things start to get really dark, try placing an artificial bulb above any houseplants that are starting to show signs of winter wear. It’ll keep them alive longer, and hopefully brighten your day too.
Image via Manored.
Keep Your Home Warm
If you need one more reason to turn up the heat, your plants will stay alive longer in warmer weather. Most plants prefer a daytime temperature between 65°F and 75°F, and a nighttime temperature between 60°F and 65°F. Anything below 50°F, and your plants will start to suffer.
Image via A Beautiful Mess.
The ideal humidity for plants is between 40% and 50%. If you live in a colder climate, the winter humidity will probably be around 10%, which means that you’re going to have to compensate. Although it’s often said that misting a plant can compensate for a lack of humidity, the best way to keep your plants humid is to use a humidifier. Leave a humidifier on while you’re out of the house, so you can come home to a space filled with healthy and beautiful plants.
Image via Reader’s Digest.
Keep Plants Away from Drafts or Heating Vents
In addition to keeping plants at the correct temperature, you’ll also want to make sure that they aren’t getting blasted by inconsistent or extreme temperatures. It’s important to keep your plants away from any cold drafts or heating vents, especially during the winter time.
Image via Lifehack.
Get New Planters
Okay, so maybe this one won’t actually help your green little friends. But if you bought your plants back in the warmer months, you might have put them in pots that reflected warmer times. As winter approaches, consider upgrading your planters to something more seasonally appropriate. Concrete planters are a personal favorite of ours.
Image via Ferm Living.
Water Your Plants Less
A common misconception about plants is that additional watering can compensate for less sunlight and lower humidity levels. But don’t make this mistake. While you should still be diligent about other aspects of plant life, you can rest easy knowing that they’ll be fine if you skip a watering or two.
Image via Elle Decor.
written by naveed Tags
- Wrap pots in bubble-wrap or hessian to keep the frost from penetrating the pot and damaging – or even killing – the root system
- Wrap plants in horticultural fleece to reduce the impact of wind and frost on the vulnerable parts. More tender plants may require additional straw inside the fleece for extra insulation.
- Secure the entire setup with garden twine to stop it from blowing away.
- Garden buildings – although a greenhouse is the ideal option, the corner of Garden Sheds and Summerhouses are a good alternative in the absence of a greenhouse.
- Greenhouse – provide a place for all less hardy plants – away from frost – at a much higher temperature, taking the worst of the winter harshness away.
- Bubble wrap/Hessian – these cheap materials can be found at most garden retailers and do a great job at protecting plants from the elements if a greenhouse or covered area is not available.
- Horticultural fleece – another easily available low-cost material, which will protect the tops of vulnerable plants from the elements.
- Plant pots – required to move plants from one place to another – keep a selection of different sizes to suit all types of plants.
- Tools – it goes without saying that you will need the regular suite of tools you use to do your normal gardening activities.
- You will need: I plastic zip lock bag, cotton thread, an extremely fine needle, scissors.
- Thread the needle with a long piece of cotton and pass the needle through the centre bottom of the bag, off to one side of the seam so it protrudes from a flat surface.
- Fill the bag with water
- Put bag in the pot with your plant and lay the cotton thread (unobstructed) flat onto the surface of the soil.
- Do a test run before going on holiday to determine how much water your plant will need while you are away, and how much water you will need to have in the bag to cater to your plant’s needs. Go up or down a size to accommodate.
- You can increase the flow of water using this method by adding a second cotton thread to the same plastic bag.
- You will need: a large bottle, bucket or vase, sturdy and absorbent cotton rope or twine.
- Cut a length of twine that can comfortably reach from the bottom of your water container to a couple inches below the surface of your pot plant’s soil, near to the base of the plant.
- Gently push one end of the twine into the soil and drop the other end to the very bottom of your water container. Ensure it stays at the very bottom of your water container, or it won’t wick all the water.
- Fill your water container with water.
- This system will very slowly wick water through the twine to your plant and constantly keep the soil moist.
- You’ll need: a bath, water
- Fill your bath tub 1cm deep with water.
- Put pot plants in the water
- You will need: a 1 to 2 litre soft drink bottle, a drill or a small nail and a hammer, scissors.
- Cut the top off your soda bottle.
- Drill or hammer a few tiny holes into the screw top lid.
- Reattach the lid and push the bottle top down into the soil.
- Fill with water, and let it slowly drip water into your potted houseplant.
- Be sure to thoroughly water your plant first so it doesn’t immediately absorb all the water.
If you like plants as much as I do, you devote time and energy to your garden throughout the year. But then winter comes and you feel as if all your hard work was for nothing. I decided to do some experimentation and finally came up with a few ideas that can help you keep your garden and plants alive during the cold weather.
I even like to plant my own vegetables like basil, spinach and sometimes even things like garlic, but it can be hard to get started. I recommend potted plants and herbs to begin with, but be careful when you start your garden.
First, let me begin by saying winter is different in every place. Sometimes you may experience the coldest winds and no snow, while others you experience tons of snow and almost no wind. Nonetheless, you should always have a plan in mind, and I recommend having a year-long plan.
Here are my ideas for keeping your plants alive during winter:
1. Plant them in cloches or cold frames
Cloches are bell-shaped glass covers, also known as bell jars, that help your plants grow even in temperatures considered very low for seeds to germinate. However, you should know that these are very susceptible to wind, so you should always keep the soil leveled before putting the cloche down.
Keep in mind that cloches work better when they have some sort of wind protection, which is why you can try to put them near a wall or a hedge. Though watering plants is considered hard when using a cloche, the soil around it will not only keep it in place, but also keep the plants watered.
Cold frames are very easy to make and they resemble a small greenhouse. Usually, a cold frame is made up of four boards with a removable glass or plastic top. By using solar energy and insulation, your plants will thrive even during the cold months of January and February.
When you use a cold frame, you should keep in mind that though humidity is important to germinate seeds, excessive heat can harm them, even during the winter.
2. Protect Your Potted Plants
If you are planning to have your potted plants outside during winter, you have to make sure that they are plastic pots planted into the ground. There isn’t a clay or stone-like material that will last during winter when temperatures drop below freezing.
By planting the plant directly into the soil, the plastic pot will protect the most important part of the plant, the roots. Just make sure you water them directly and then dig them out when the weather is warmer–most likely in spring.
3. Apply Mulch
Mulch will act as an insulator, which holds heat and moisture for your plants. The easier way to do this is to use mulch made of wheat or pine straws, as it is easy to remove after winter and works well keeping in the heat. This is an easy and affordable way to keep large plants safe.
Beware of using too much mulch. With some plants, such as roses, or fruits like strawberries, if you leave them covered for too long, they will not cool down in time for spring.
4. Bring In Your Exotic Plants
There are some plants that will definitely survive the cold weather outside, whether in a cold frame or potted right into the ground, but your exotic plants will not make it outside. The solution is to bring them inside, even if it sounds crazy, tropical plants will thrive when you keep them warm inside, especially when you keep them somewhere moist, like the bathroom or laundry room and when they have a window nearby.
5. Grow Plants That Will Flower During Spring
If you want to have healthy and pretty plants, it might be better to plant bulbs such as daffodils, day lilies or tulips, during the early winter so that by the end of the end of winter, beginning of spring, they will flower.
There are many other tips for keeping your plants alive during the harsh cold season. Make sure you don’t leave potted plants unprotected, water your plants constantly even when they are inside – but be careful about the amount of water, create insulation for your plants, and if needed, even find another source of heat.
We all love to have our gardens looking good during spring, and winter may not be that terrible, but rather a great time to start working towards your perfect plants for the new season.
Chidinma is the founder of Fruitful Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious recipes and lifestyle tips. Most of her recipes help women with fertility issues, especially fibroids, PCOS, and Endometriosis. Sometimes, however, you will find other interesting recipes, as well as cooking tips and tricks there.
In many areas this time of year the snow is falling and the pavement is frozen. You know that there are benefits to having plants indoors, particularly during winter.
However, are you aware of some of the special things you need to be doing with your green friends to keep them alive and well during winter?
Here are some tips for caring for your indoor plants during winter:
Give them light
We all need light and it’s hard to get a lot of it when the days are so short like they are in the middle of winter. Plants are similar to people, they need light, even indoor plants. The amount of light that homes get during the winter months is short, and if your house doesn’t face the right way, you may only get light in certain rooms and through certain windows.
Be prepared to move your plants to windows and areas that get light during winter. Make sure that the windows are cleaned off inside and outside for maximum light. Also make sure that any dust that has gathered on the leaves has been cleaned off so the leaves can absorb that light better.
Give them water
During the winter months, most of the time the issue is not that plants don’t get enough water, but that people give them too much water. This can be particularly true if you have an indoor succulent garden.
Make sure to test more than just the top of the soil in your plants. Some plants need to totally dry out before being watered again, so go down a few inches and see if the soil is dry.
A dry home can lead to problems, too. During the winter months the air often gets dry and it gets drier if you crank up the heat. To counteract this, some people use humidifiers to try and keep the air moist. If you have plants in rooms where a humidifier is working overtime, then you probably don’t need to water them as much.
When you water plants, it’s often best to remove them from the saucer you keep them in and run them under a tap. Let the water run right through the soil and out the bottom. Put each plant back in the saucer and check again in about 15 minutes. If there’s any water sitting the saucer, get rid of it.
Watch the temperature
Houseplants usually come from tropical regions. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes, and they can be particular about the temperature they prefer. Make sure you know the ideal temperature for the plants you have and keep an eye on the thermostat. Temperatures somewhere between 55 – 85 Fahrenheit are usually good for tropical plants, but it can vary depending on the species of plant you have.
Prune and repot
Now is the time to prune. Again, this can depend on the type of plant you have, succulents tend not to need much, if any, pruning. However, if your indoor plants include vining plants, now is the time.
Succulents also do not tend to need repotting, but if you have woody plants, they tend to go into dormancy during the colder months. Now is the time to repot woody plants so that they are ready to start budding and grow when spring comes around.
Watch for pests
During the winter months the increased heat from the heaters, lack of sunlight, and increased humidity because of humidifiers all can lead to pests. Pests like spider mites, fungus gnats, mealybugs and others. Be watchful of them on your plants and take steps to eliminate them when the appear.
Why Plants are Worth the Winter Care
Having plants around your home is great all year round. Indoor plants can even help deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, for them to be effective, plants need to be cared for during these months, as well. Keep this in mind and take the necessary steps and you’ll have an indoor garden that lasts.
Ambius provides businesses around the world with plant rental and maintenance services throughout the year. If your business could use the benefits of plants, call us and we’ll help.
Winter Plant Care – How To Keep Plants Alive Over Winter
You’re likely accustomed to leaving potted plants out over summer, but if some of your favorite perennial plants are frost tender where you live, they’ll be damaged or killed if you leave them outside during winter. But by bringing plants indoors for the winter, you can protect them against the harmful consequences of cold weather. After bringing plants indoors, however, the key to keeping plants alive over winter depends on what type of plants you have and the growing environment you provide them.
Winter Plant Care
How to keep plants alive over winter (by overwintering plants in pots indoors) means you first have to make room for the plants, which is sometimes easier said than done. Although you may have enough room in certain locations in your house, if the plants don’t receive enough light, they may begin to decline.
Tip: Before bringing plants indoors, install some hanging basket hooks or shelves in front of bright windows. You’ll have an overhead winter garden that keeps plants from cluttering your floor space.
Other than giving your plants sufficient light while they’re indoors, a key to keeping plants alive through winter is providing the temperature and humidity they need. If you place the pots near a heating vent or a drafty window, the fluctuations in temperature may place too much stress on plants.
To increase the humidity around plants, set the pots on top of pebbles in a water-filled tray or dish, and keep the water level below the base of the containers.
When to Start Overwintering Plants in Pots
Most houseplants are tropical plants, which enjoy a little “summer vacation” in pots on your patio or deck. However, when the nighttime temperatures dip to 50 degrees F. (10 C.), it’s time to start bringing plants indoors to keep them alive during the winter.
Caladiums, lilies and plants that grow from bulbs, tubers and other bulb-like structures, may go through a “resting period.” After an active growth period, some plant’s leaves and stems begin to fade or turn yellow, and the plant typically dies all the way to the ground.
Even though these plants go through a dormant stage in winter, some (such as caladiums) need warm winter plant care while others (such as dahlias) respond better to chillier temperatures. A heated closet inside your home is suitable for overwintering caladium tubers, but an unheated location (40-50 degrees F. or 4-10 degrees C.) will work better for dahlias.
Before bringing in your entire garden of plants for the winter, know your USDA plant hardiness zone. This determines the lowest temperature at which different plants will survive the winter outside. When you buy plants, look on the manufacturer’s tag to find the hardiness information.
Whether your potted plants live indoors year round or have sought temporary shelter from freezing temperatures, they may be looking a little sad these days. Are you doing something wrong? Or have they just gone dormant? We asked horticulturalist David Clark (who is coddling his own houseplants through the winter in upstate New York) for advice about how to perk up winter-frazzled houseplants.
Clark, an instructor at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, likes a challenge: he managed to keep a 4-foot gardenia topiary alive for four years and has collected more than 300 different orchids. But whether you’re nursing something finicky like an African violet or a hardy Mother in Law’s tongue, your houseplants are going to have a harder time in winter. Here are his top 10 tips (plus one of our own) :
Above: Photograph by Mieke Verbijlen.
Put houseplants in the sunniest spot you have; move them to follow the sun if necessary. “Most plants will not thrive in a north-facing window because they need more sun,” says Clark. The best? A window facing east; you will get sun from 7 am to 11 am and “it’s not harsh, like what you’ll get in a western facing window,” he says.
To move big, heavy pots, put them on rolling plant stands. See 5 Favorites: Rolling Plant Stands.
Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
“Most plants only need water once a week in winter,” says Clark. “They will kind of go dormant, especially if they’re plants that grow outdoors in summer and they’ve come from that bright light into a home with lower lighting and lower temperatures.”
A watering can with a long spout will direct a controlled stream of water to a houseplant–without dribbles. For our favorite, see The Most Beautiful Watering Can Ever.
Above: Photograph by John Merkl.
Outdoor plants experience fog, rain, and mist. Indoors? The air is dry from your heating system. Give them a little spritz from a mister every few days to keep houseplants happy.
Here’s our favorite Brass Plant Mister.
Above: Photograph via Terrain.
Make a humidity tray for plants to add moisture to the air. In a low-sided tray, place a shallow layer of pebbles. Add water to the height of the pebbles. Set plant pots on pebbles and put the tray in a warm sunny spot (or on top of a radiator).
Or get a desktop humidifier to direct moist air toward plants. For our favorites, see 10 Easy Pieces: Desktop Humidifiers.
Most plants thrive with levels of from 50 to 60 percent humidity; in a house the humidity level can go below 35 percent. “In a situation like that, make them a little miniature greenhouse by tenting them under a big plastic bag,” says Clark. “Or take a shallow tray, fill it with 2 inches of water and gravel, and set your potted plant in it.” As the water evaporates, it will create humidity around the plant.
The most common disease that plagues houseplants is leaf spot–yellow or brown spots that develop on an outer leaf and move inward. If your plants are suffering, mix a tonic and spray it on their leaves: Dissolve 4 teaspoons baking soda in a gallon of water and add a few drops of Murphy’s oil to make a suspension.
Above: Feather Dusters are from £17.50 t0 £21.50 from Objects of Use.
How *Not* to Kill Your Plants This Winter
Winter days in New England can be brutal, and sometimes I wish I could just curl up under a blanket until the sun decides to come back. It turns out that our plants feel exactly the same way!
A lot of plants—especially outdoor ones—enter a period of dormancy during the winter. This is basically a temporary state of metabolic inactivity where plants do the bare minimum, using their stored-up food supplies to stay alive and not giving the slightest thought to stressful things like growing. It’s basically a season-long nap, and I am more than a bit jealous.
Jokes aside, plants go through chemical changes during the winter, which means you need to be caring for them a little differently. Here are the major things to keep in mind as you cultivate your favorite indoor and outdoor plants this winter.
Help Your Outdoor Plants Survive the Cold
Honestly, you could probably just let hardy outdoor plants do their own thing in the winter, and chances are they’d be just fine. (Can you tell my style of plant parenting is very laissez faire?) However, if you’re an exceptional plant parent, here are a few steps to help your outdoor plants have the best winter-long nap ever.
Know Your Plants
First of all, you’ll want to take stock of your existing plants. If you don’t already know, figure out which ones are annuals and perennial—annuals only live for one season, so they’re not going to come back after the winter. Common annual flowers include geraniums, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias, all of which can simply be pulled out and put in the compost.
You’ll also want to bring any tropical or subtropical plants indoors. Plants like palms and ferns might be perfectly happy outside during the summer, but they’re not hardy enough to survive freezing temperatures and snow. Just make sure to check them for bugs before you bring them in, else you risk all your other plants getting bugs, too (a mistake I’ve made more than once).
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Trim Them Back
As for the perennials you’re leaving outside, it’s best to prune them back before the winter. You can cut back flowering trees, shrubs, and vines once they finish blooming, and summer-flowering plants can also be pruned in late fall. (However, my plant-expert mother says that many of the late-flowering plants like coneflowers have seed pods that supply birds with food when snow covers the ground, so definitely don’t feel like you have to cut them back.)
Just to make things complicated, some plants like azaleas, forsythia, and lilac form their spring buds in the fall, so you don’t want to prune those babies.
Cover Them Up
When you’re tidying up your lawn this fall, be sure to clear out old mulch from around your plants. Once the ground is frozen, you can put down a new 6-inch layer of mulch, chopped leaves, or hay to help keep the roots insulated and provide a buffer from snow.
Take Special Precautions for Potted Plants
Potted plants can remain outdoors during the winter, but they’re at greater risk of having their roots freeze, especially if they’re young. To protect them, you can wrap the pots in an insulating material (think burlap, old blankets, or even bubble wrap), place them close to the foundation of your house, and arrange them close together. You can also put a layer of mulch over them for added protection.
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Keep Indoor Plants Happy
Your houseplants don’t require quite as much winter prep—after all, they’ll be staying inside, where the temperature will be cooler but not freezing. Instead, you’ll just want to adjust your care routine a little bit.
Give Them Plenty of Sun
The days get shorter in the winter, which means there’s less sunlight to go around. Some plants don’t really care about getting less light—for instance, low-light guys like ZZ plants and peace lilies will probably be fine no matter where they’re placed.
However, plants that need bright or direct light will be sad during the winter, so you may need to move them around to maximize their light exposure. It can help to put them near a bright window, but don’t put them too close as windows often get chilly at night (which we’ll discuss in a minute).
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Modern Watering Can $54
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Cut Back on Watering
Here’s some good news: You probably won’t have to water your plants as much during the winter! Most houseplants stop growing when it gets cold, which means they won’t need as much water. When you do water them, make sure they’re able to drain out extra moisture to prevent root rot.
Protect Them from Temperature Fluctuations
Extreme temperature fluctuations aren’t good for your houseplants, so keep them away from drafty doors, cold windows, and heating sources like fireplaces or radiators.
Skip the Fertilizer
Because your plants aren’t growing much during the winter, they really don’t need fertilizer. Put them on a diet until spring rolls around, then pick back up with your regular fertilizing schedule.
Give Tropical Plants Extra Humidity
Know how your lips get extra-chapped during the winter? That’s because the air is usually quite dry, especially if you have forced-air heat.
Plants that thrive in humid conditions are going to be especially cranky about this dry environment, so if you want to pamper them, put them near a humidifier or mist them on a regular basis—or you can even put them in your bathroom to enjoy the shower steam!
Do you love plants, but find that gardening stresses you out? Do you cringe every time someone hands you a plant and tell them you’re “sure to kill it within a week?” Do you envy the green thumbs of your neighbors, friends and relatives, while struggling to keep even one houseplant yourself?
If this sounds like you, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Plenty of people struggle to keep plants alive at first, but with time, practice and a little instruction, anyone can learn to do it. Just because it isn’t something that comes naturally to you doesn’t mean you have to accept that you’ll never be able to do it.
Keeping potted plants alive is a learned skill, and there is no reason you can’t learn to do it, too. To help you out and get you started on your plant-care journey, we’ve put together this tutorial on everything you need to know about how to take care of potted plants. By the time we’re finished here, you’ll be ready to put these skills into practice. So grab your gardening gloves and potting soil and let’s get started.
Tips to Keep Potted Houseplants Alive
While the rules for all plants are fairly similar, they will differ slightly depending on the environment your plant is going to be living in. If you’re mostly wondering how to take care of potted indoor plants, then this is the section for you. Here are our best tips to keep houseplants alive:
1. Choose the Correct Pot
Drainage is extremely important for your plant. Ideally, a pot should have a hole in the bottom so that excess water can drain out of the soil and collect in a tray underneath the pot. If there is no such hole, all the extra water is trapped in the soil. Often, this is more water than the plant can successfully absorb, and this will result in a plant “drowning.” If you notice your plant looks wilted and droopy, but the soil is still damp, the odds are good that you have a drainage problem, and the plant is too wet.
In the same way, plants need plenty of space to grow. If the roots run out of room to stretch out, the plant will become top-heavy, and the roots won’t be able to support the amount of foliage on your plant. This will cause it to wither and die.
While it’s easiest to simply leave the plant in the pot or basket you got it in, this isn’t always the best way to keep your plant healthy and strong. For your plant to stay healthy, it needs to be in a pot that gives it room to grow and stretch its roots. It will also require a pot that allows for adequate drainage.
2. Use Good Potting Soil
If you’re repotting your houseplant from the container it came in and putting it in a better pot, you’ll also need to think about what type of potting soil you’re using. It isn’t enough to just scoop some dirt out of your backyard. Instead, buy a bag of potting soil. These mixes often contain extra nutrients or fertilizers that will help your houseplant stay strong and healthy.
Depending on what type of plant you’re working with, you may be able to find a potting mix designed specifically for that species. If you’re planting a cactus or succulent, for example, there are often potting soils that are crafted with just the right nutrients for these types of plants.
3. Watering: Not Too Much and Not Too Little
Watering can be a little bit tricky, especially if you’re new to plant care. Water too much, and your plant can easily drown. Water too little, and the plant will dry up and die. For happy and healthy plants, you’ll need to find a delicate balance between these two extremes. While some plants prefer to live in moist soil, the vast majority of plants do best when you allow the soil to dry out between watering.
To tell whether or not your plant needs water, feel the soil, preferably near the edge of the pot. If the dirt feels dry and crumbly, it’s time to water. If it still feels damp, it probably doesn’t need more just yet. After a few weeks of this practice, you should begin to get the hang of knowing when your plants need water.
Of course, you’ll also be able to tell if your plants are dying of thirst. If you notice the leaves are turning dry, brown and shriveled, your plant is in desperate need of water. Hopefully, however, you’ll water your plant long before it gets to this point.
When giving your plant a drink, water it until the water begins to run out the hole in the bottom of the pot, or until the soil no longer absorbs any water. If the water begins to pool on top of the soil refusing to soak in any more, then it’s time to stop watering.
It’s difficult to prescribe exactly how often you should water your plant because every plant and every plant species is different. You can read up on your specific plant to gain more information, but in general, it’s better to let your plant tell you when it needs water. Learn to read the soil and the leaves of a plant, and recognize when it’s asking you for some water.
4. Give Them Plenty of Light
While every plant has different preferences in terms of shade versus sun, no plant will grow with absolutely no light whatsoever. If you put your plant in the closet, high on a dark shelf or backed into a shadowy corner, it is not going to do well.
Your plant needs at least some sun to thrive. For this reason, windowsills are great places to put plants. If you don’t have a windowsill large enough, though, there are other options. Put them on a table or a cart in front of a window, or in some place that experiences plenty of sunlight.
5. Keep Your Pet Away
This should go without saying, but it’s something you might not have thought of if you’re new to houseplants. Animals may love your plants, but unfortunately, this often translates into loving them to death. Specifically, your pet might eat your plant, or tear it up in their enthusiasm.
To fix this problem, try placing your houseplants in places your pet can’t access. Maybe put them high up on the counter, or on top of a cabinet. Just be sure to balance the need to keep the plant out of harm’s way with the need to place it in an area that still gets sun.
Another thing to note is many plants can be poisonous to animals, so there is some extra incentive to keep plants and pets separate.
6. Learn About Your Plant
This is a fundamental rule of plant care whether you’re dealing with indoor houseplants, hanging outdoor baskets, garden plants or something else altogether. Take the time to learn about the type of plant you’re caring for. Learn how much sun it likes, or how much shade. Learn if it needs to be watered every day, or if it can go as long as two weeks without water.
Every plant has its own unique set of requirements. While there are plenty of across-the-board rules that apply to most plants, you will have the best results and the greatest rate of success when you take the time to learn about each species of plant individually.
Keep Outside Potted Plants Alive
When learning how to take care of outdoor potted plants, some of the concerns are the same as they are with indoor plants. You’ll still want to take care to use a good potting soil mix. You’ll still want a pot that gives the plant room to grow and has plenty of drainage. However, there are a few additional concerns that will come into play when caring for outdoor plants.
Here are our best tips to keep outdoor potted plants alive:
1. Watch for Shade vs. Sun
This is something you’ll need to be especially careful with when it comes to outdoor plants. Your plant should come with a tag that will tell you whether the plant prefers full sun, full shade or a combination of the two. If you can’t find such a tag, ask at your local garden center or do a quick Google search.
Once you figure out what type of lighting your plant will do best in, it’s up to you to find a place that suits these needs. That might be the side of your house that gets sun for half the day, or it might be your porch that gets sun all day long. Whatever it is, your plant will thrive once you get it in the right place.
2. Keep an Eye on the Temperature
With outdoor plants, one of the biggest considerations is the weather. It can be tempting to experience a sunny March day where temperatures soar to the high 50s and assume it’s safe to put your plants outside. Next thing you know, the temperature plummets again, and your plants are irreparably damaged.
While some plants are exceptions, most annuals and many perennials can’t be left outside until the temperature no longer dips below freezing at night. To find out when it’s okay to begin taking your plants outside, look up the approximate last frost for your area. Keep in mind, however, that this is an approximate last frost. To be safe, wait until slightly past this date. The plant tag may even provide specific instructions along these lines.
Remember to also think about the first frost in the fall. If your plants are not winter-hardy, you’ll need to remember to bring them in before the temperatures drop in the fall as well.
3. Think About the Rain
Since your plant is going to be an outdoor plant, you’ll also have to think about things like rain, and how this will affect your watering schedule.
If your area has been receiving lots of rain, be aware that you won’t need to water your plant for quite a while, or at least until the soil dries out again. If the rains are extremely heavy, to the extent that your plant is at risk of being damaged, you might even want to consider bringing your plant indoors. If this isn’t a possibility, at least bring it under some level of shelter to protect it from drowning.
This might apply to both indoor and outdoor plants, but since outdoor plants more often tend to be of the flowering varieties, we’ve included it in this section.
If you’re never deadheaded before, don’t worry. It’s much less complicated than it sounds. This is simply a process of pinching off dead blossoms that are hanging limply on their stems. Of course, this isn’t something that you absolutely have to do. These dead blossoms will eventually fall off on their own. However, there are many benefits to pre-empting this natural process of the blossoms falling off and doing the deadheading yourself.
First, it’s an aesthetic bonus. Your plant looks better without dead blossoms clinging to it. And since the main purpose of many plants is to look beautiful, this is a good reason to do it. Second, and arguably more important, however, is that deadheading encourages new growth. When you pinch off the dead growth, this helps push new blossoms out and causes your plant to grow bigger and healthier.
5. Keep Pests Away
Once you put your plant outdoors, realize that you are at risk for rabbits, squirrels, deer and all other kinds of animals who would just love to get a taste of your outdoor plant.
To combat this, think of ways you can keep your potted plant safe. Do you have a screened-in porch? If so, this is the perfect place for an outdoor plant. If this isn’t an option, a fenced-in garden is also better than nothing. Hanging baskets are also good, as they are out of reach of most animals other than squirrels.
Learn More About Caring for Your Potted Plants
Are you determined that this time, you’re going to be successful and keep your potted plants alive? Reading this is a great place to start. But what’s the next step? How can you keep learning about how to care for your beautiful plants?
A great next step to take is to talk to an expert. If you have more questions about what you can be doing to keep your plants happy and healthy, then we’d love to chat with you. Here at Patuxent Nursery, we have years of experience in caring for plants of all shapes, sizes and varieties, and we’d love to share that knowledge with you.
If you live in or near Bowie, MD, we invite you to stop in and continue this conversation in person. And if you can’t make the trip, that’s alright, too. We’re available if you’d like to contact us online, and we can be reached by phone. Just give us a call at (301) 218-4769.
How To Keep Outdoor Plants Alive Through Winter
Winter can certainly be hard on plants. Shorter days, limited light and changes in temperature are just some of the challenges to overcome. It isn’t as difficult as you would expect to keep your plans alive during the winter months, especially with these simple gardening tips.
Less hardy or exotic plants have a slim chance of survival unless they are moved to a heated greenhouse or brought indoors. A primary example is certain species of fuchsia, which can live for years if given the right conditions during the winter months. These plants should be dug up towards the end of summer and placed into a pot of compost. If they are already potted then skip this step, remove any dying plant materials from the pot and trim back to around 10 – 20cm in height.
From here, all plants should be kept in a frost and rain-free environment (such as a Greenhouse) at between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius throughout the entire winter. Only water the plants occasionally and do not over-water; the compost should be almost dry, retaining only a small amount of moisture. Remove any rotting plants soon as any signs show.
In Spring begin watering regularly to trigger them out of dormancy and start to grow again. Feed with a good liquid fertiliser as desired.
What Can I Do If I Don’t Have a Greenhouse?
Moving plants inside is the ideal scenario. However, if you do not have sufficient space or storage options, there are a few things you can do to help your hardy plants survive, even if kept outside.
What You Need to Ensure Your Plants Survival
There are a few things that you’ll need to make the job of winter-proofing your plants a huge amount easier.
The above information offers a broad overview of plant care over the Winter months, but for more in-depth information, please visit the RHS website.
If you are interested in purchasing your own garden Greenhouse or any other Garden Building, you can discuss your requirements directly with one of our team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
How to keep plants alive in this blistering summer heat
A friend went to Portland, Ore., for a getaway and felt pretty smug about missing the recent SoCal heat wave, until he returned and surveyed the wreckage around his Pasadena home.
“Lost many plants in my yard,” he texted. “Very upsetting. Blow torch.”
We know the feeling.
The blast of heat that ushered in July has scalded tomatoes on the vine, shriveled leaves and crisp-ified roses across Southern California.
At Descanso Gardens, where the temperature jumped from 74 to 114 degrees in a single day earlier this month, most of its fabled camellias were damaged by sunburn, said Rachel Young, director of horticulture and garden operations at the La Cañada Flintridge site.
With proper care, Young thinks the plants will recover and bloom this winter, but damaged flowers, fruits and vegetables are another story.
“I had grapes at home that were just about ripe,” she said, “but that evening, they were raisins, and I don’t like raisins.”
Yes, temperatures have been awful, but there are ways to salvage and protect your plants from the blistering heat, say Young and Yvonne Savio, retired director of Los Angeles County’s master gardener program who now runs gardeninginla.net. Here are their tips for dealing with the heat. Remember to grab a hat, lots of water and sun protection gear of your own before heading into your garden.
1. Water deep
Deep watering at the base of the plant for a long time is the best way to revive and protect plants, because it coaxes roots deeper into the ground. “Plants are like people, they get lazy,” Young said. “If they get water for 5 minutes every day, they keep their roots near the surface, so by watering deeply you’re training the plants to send their roots deep in the soil where the water is.” In general, Young recommends deep watering most plants once a week. For how long? It depends on your soil, but long enough to saturate the soil a good foot in depth. Vegetables might need deep watering two or three times a week when it’s really hot, she added. How she does it: Savio sinks 5-gallon planting containers (the type with drain holes) between plants in her garden and then fills them three times with water, once a week.
When you know a hot spell is on the way, you can also prepare by watering deeply at ground level, ideally at night, when the air is cooler.
2. But don’t overwater
Plants sometimes wilt from the severe sun, even when they have sufficient water. Test the soil before you water, Young said. If a pot feels heavy or the soil feels damp an inch or so under the ground, your plant probably doesn’t need more moisture.
3. No water in the sun
As tempting as it sounds, don’t hose down your plants in the middle of the day; those water droplets turn into mini magnifying glasses on the leaves and intensify the heat. Savio does recommend spraying plants to cool them down, but only after the sun sets.
4. Set up some shade
A big beach umbrella works, as do airy (30% to 40%) shade cloths. You can also use old bed sheets, rigged-up cheesecloth or propped-up cardboard to give your plants a break from the scorching rays. The key is to make sure your shade props allow air to circulate freely around the plants. If the only cloth you have handy is dark in color, remember that it can absorb heat and can in turn burn any foliage they touch, so keep it several inches above or away from the plants. Here’s an easy D.I.Y. garden shade you can make out of PVC piping and a bed sheet, and more shade idea>>>.
5. Don’t remove damaged foliage
Those brown leaves and branches serve as protection against additional damage and could actually be harboring living tissue, so hands off the pruners, at least for now.
6. Stop all pruning until fall
Even plants that look OK are going to be stressed in this heat, and pruning just adds to it. Let them grow as they wish and prune when it’s cooler.
7. Forget the fertilizer
Root systems suffer in high heat; absorbing fertilizer can do further damage. Straight compost and low-nitrogen (numbers less than 3) organic fertilizers are OK, Young said, if they don’t include manure, fish or blood, because those contain salts, which can cause heat stress and burning.
8. Tomatoes etc.
Sad to say, those blistered baby tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans aren’t going to miraculously ripen on the vine, Savio said. Remove them so the mama plants can focus on recovering. Don’t expect more fruit to set until the temperatures dip below 85 to 90 degrees for 10 days in a row.
The no-pruning rule doesn’t apply to roses, because they are so susceptible to disease. “You don’t want to leave a ton of dead tissue for diseases and insects,” Young said, so remove withered blooms and branches.
10. Container plants
Avoid dark-colored containers, which absorb the heat more than lighter colors and can actually fry a plant’s roots, Young said. Try putting potted plants inside larger pots to give them some insulation and shade, but make sure both pots have good drainage. Plants drown in standing water, even when it’s hot.
1. Use a zip lock plastic bag and thread
This Instructables method is a cheap, easy and leak-proof way to water your indoor plants while you‘re on vacation.
2. Water wicking
Wicking is a tried, tested and true method of watering indoor plants when no one is home.
3. Give your plants a bath
About the Garden reports that this method will keep most houseplants healthy for up to three weeks.
4. Slow seeping
Youtuber DIY Simple suggests using a soda bottle to water your indoor plants while you’re away.
You might also like:
How to irrigate your garden beds
3 ways your plants can water themselves
How to care for indoor plants in winter
It’s that time of year again when we all head out to buy annuals for our containers. And the flowers always start out looking gorgeous. But, in no time the blooms fade and the stems turn long and leggy. As a garden designer, I find this is one of the most frequent questions I am asked: How do I keep my potted plants in shape all summer?
WATER, WATER, THEN WATER AGAIN
The most important thing to remember when caring for flowering potted plants is that they require:
Annuals and tender perennials, which are the flowers most commonly planted in pots, are shallow-rooted. This means they require a regular supply of water in order to survive. In fact, small root systems, which have limited capacity to store water, require water daily. If the top of the soil dries out, they’re in trouble.
To protect your flowers, water your potted plants at the soil level so that liquid doesn’t accumulate on the leaves (which can lead to leaf scorch or cause fungus to develop.) Then wait until the water seeps out of the drainage holes in the bottom to make sure the potting soil has been thoroughly moistened.
FEED FOR MORE BLOOMS
In addition to lots of water, potted plants need regular feeding to keep on blooming. This is because as the potting mix breaks down, it naturally loses its nutrients as the plants absorb them. I feed my flowers three times during the summer with a water soluble fertilizer. (Miracle Gro All Purpose Plant Food works great.)
But, it’s important not to overdo it. Over-fertilization will produce lots of lush foliage, but fewer blossoms.
GROOM TO KEEP THE SHAPE
Deadheading, pinching and pruning are the three main ways of grooming your flowering potted plants. Depending on the size of the stem, you can pinch off spent blooms and leggy branches using your thumb and forefinger. Or you can snip them with scissors or pruning shears. These important tasks help to maintain the form of your plants and stimulate them to keep on blooming.
Here are three popular annuals/tender perennials often grown in pots and how to groom them.
Though grown as an annual in most areas, the common geranium, or Pelargonium x hortorum, is actually a tender perennial, meaning it won’t survive the winter outdoors (though you can overwinter it indoors.) While it’s tempting to buy this beautiful plant as soon as it hits the garden center in early spring, it’s usually best to hold off until around Mother’s Day, when there’s less risk of it getting zapped by an overnight frost.
A healthy geranium is comprised of a few central stems and lots of side shoots (which is the optimum structure for a strong plant that will produce lots of flowers.) To keep your geranium looking good, prune back the central stems by about a third a week or two after potting it. This will encourage more side shoots to develop and maintain the plant’s fullness.
As the season progresses, regularly pinch the side branches of your geranium down to the angle where the branches fork. This will prevent the plant from becoming too leggy. And deadhead (pinch at the base) all flower stems as soon as they have faded, which will encourage new flowering.
Petunias can become leggy fast without some prudent intervention. They can also quit blooming almost entirely after an initial colorful flush. No worries, though. With proper watering, feeding and grooming, you can keep your petunias looking good all season.
Petunias need to be regularly deadheaded to encourage new flowering, but unlike geraniums, removing the dead flowers from the plant accomplishes only part of the job. That’s because at the base of the petunia flower stem there is a small, nugget-sized pod that produces seeds. If you leave the pod on the plant, the petunia will stop blooming. As a result, in order to stimulate the plant to produce more flowers, you’ll need to remove the entire flower stem.
Deadheading the flowers (with stems) on a regular basis will keep your petunias looking neat; however, it won’t solve the leggy problem. To control legginess, prune the plant every week, cutting back about a third of the petunia. You can do this by pinching branches selectively or grabbing clumps and shearing them off. Each week cut the plant back by another third. Rejuvenating petunias in this way will encourage new stems and blossoms to sprout from the interior branches.
For a great tutorial on how to keep your petunias looking full and flowering, .
These bright-colored specimens require less care than geraniums or petunias, but still need regular pruning to help them maintain their compact shape. The same goes for the indoor varieties, by the way.
To keep your begonias looking their best, prune the outer branches (called canes) harder than the interior ones, pinching back the growing tips of new shoots to encourage new stems to form. Prune the interior canes at varied heights and prune the outer canes at the lowest. This will encourage new growth at the base and prevent the plant from looking bare at the bottom.
If your begonia has lost all its lower leaves, you can cut it back all the way to the soil. This will force the plant to send up new shoots. You can then continue pinching new stems as they grow until you achieve the desired shape and fullness.
A note on begonias, both indoors (as houseplants) and out: They don’t like to be overwatered.
A final note: sterilize your garden shears between uses to prevent diseases from spreading among your flowers. Then, sit back and enjoy your potted plants for the remainder of the season.
This article was updated April 2019.