How to House Plant-Spring Version
As the days get longer and longer, we’ve seen the trees begin breaking bud and the daffodils and hyacinth are now blooming. Spring is in the air. Although they’ve remained green through the winter, our house plants are starting to come out of dormancy as well.
I thought it would be a good “social distancing” project to give my house plants a spring makeover. Here are some tips on how to take care for you house plants as we wait out this proverbial storm.
1) New soil: Spring is a good time to repot your houseplants. Soil, being organic in nature, breaks down over the course of time. With this breakdown, the soil’s ability to provide nutrients to your plants, as well as retain much needed water, is diminished.
2) Control new pot size: Typically, if you want to upsize your house plant’s pot, you size up one pot size at a time. So, if your plant is currently in a 4” pot, the next pot size up is a 6” pot. The reasoning behind this is twofold. If you transplant you house plant into a too large of a pot, the plant will elongate and not keep a compact, neat form=the plant won’t be able to support itself and potentially flop over. Secondly, too large of a pot will hold too much water for your small plant. Too much water means your plant will drown. Yes drown. Plants need air at their roots as well to be healthy. Be sure the pot has drainage holes.
3) Scout for pests: Since its spring, many insects are now starting to emerge from a long winter’s nap. And your new, succulent, tender houseplant leaves are an ideal meal after a long dormancy. Look at the tips of your plant for bugs such as aphids. Scale and mealy bugs tend to hang out on stems and the underside of leaves. White flies like to stay hidden, usually the underside of leaves. There are over the counter insecticides that will aid with these bugs. But a light scrubbing from an old toothbrush and a solution of water and dish soap will also do the trick.
4) Watering: The biggest problem I see with house plants is overwatering. People say all the time that they don’t understand why the plant died “because I water it every week.” Chances are, you either didn’t water thoroughly or you’ve drowned the plant. Two easy ways to see if the plant needs water: 1) if the pot is small enough to lift, pick it up. If the pot is light, give it a drink. If it is heavy, DO NOT WATER. If the pot is large, stick your finger down in the soil as far as it will go. If the soil feels wet at the tip of your finger, no water needed. If it feels dry, give the plant a thorough watering.
What is a thorough watering? Thorough watering is when the water runs all the way through the soil profile; meaning it comes out of the bottom holes of the pot.
5) Pruning and cleaning up: Spring is a great time of year for pruning up house plants. Remove any broken branches, if applicable. Plants that may have gotten to tall or stretched out can be pruned to help contain the size of the plant. Discard any leaves that look unpleasing and be sure to remove any leaves that may be sitting on the soil surface. Leaves on the soil surface are great places for insects to hide and diseases to linger.
Hopefully these few tips will help you get through this long period of isolation and give you an opportunity to watch your house plants thrive from a little TLC.