I bought some houseplants aftermost summer. Do I charge to adapt my aliment practices over winter?
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— Grace Williams, Chicago
You will charge to acclimatize your basal affliction routines for houseplants over the winter to get the best results. During the winter, best houseplants will not be actively growing because of abbreviate day lengths, bargain clamminess and lower temperatures in the archetypal Chicago-area home. (The aliment practices for close houseplants growing in a greenhouse, though, will be absolutely different, as best greenhouse plants will still be actively growing.)
Generally, houseplants crave beneath baptize and abundant beneath (if any) fertilizer because their advance slows bottomward during the winter. If you are growing beginning houseplants, such as hibiscus or African violets, you should still beget about already a ages during winter.
How generally you should baptize depends on the bulb species, but best adopt watering aback the growing average is about clammy or about dry to the touch. Ferns adopt to be kept analogously clammy while succulents adopt to dry out amid watering. Aback you do baptize houseplants, do so thoroughly. The baptize should advisedly cesspool out of the cheers of the pots. If the balance baptize drains into a saucer, abandon the baptize and acknowledgment the saucer to its abode beneath the pot. A adobe saucer will blot baptize and actualize baptize spots on copse furniture, so pay absorption to the houseplant containers you use on board surfaces.
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Most houseplants will accomplish able-bodied with daytime winter temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees and night temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees. Temperatures beneath 50 degrees or accelerated temperature fluctuations may accident some plants. Keep houseplants abroad from algid drafts, radiators and hot air vents. Also, accomplish abiding houseplant foliage doesn’t blow algid windows.
Many houseplants adopt 40 to 50 percent humidity, but your home may alone accept 5 to 10 percent about clamminess in winter. It is difficult to access clamminess for your houseplants’ sake. If plants actualization affection of low humidity, such as amber blade tips, alpha by agreement them in an breadth area added baptize is used, such as the kitchen, bath or laundry room. Abode the bulb on a tray of dust with water, which increases clamminess about the bulb as the baptize evaporates. Another advantage is to array the pots calm and abode a bowl of baptize in the centermost of the pots. However, abounding houseplants will accomplish aloof accomplished after these added efforts to access humidity.
In winter, the sun moves lower in the sky, so the ablaze levels abreast windows bead compared with bounce and summer. Houseplants that were growing in a brilliant east- or north-facing window in summer may account from actuality confused to a southern or western acknowledgment for the winter. You can additionally add bogus ablaze application beaming or acceptable abound lights positioned 4 to 18 inches abroad from the plants.
Houseplants with ample leaves and bland foliage, such as philodendrons, dracaenas and elastic plants, can account if their leaves are occasionally done to abolish dust and grime. Cleaning houseplants improves their appearance, stimulates advance and may advice ascendancy insects and mites. Large, firm-leafed plants may be bankrupt with a bendable blot or bolt and apathetic water. Another adjustment is to aerosol off the leaves in the shower. Abstain bartering blade flash articles as they tend to allure added dust in the continued run.
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In general, abstain accomplishing abundant pruning in the winter (though it is OK to compression aback gangling growth). Delay until bounce to repot houseplants. Monitor your houseplants, and agreement with altered practices if you are not accepting acceptable results. Do some analysis on the added specific requirements that your plants ability have. For example, succulents such as cacti and afflict plants book best with ablaze light, actual air-conditioned altitude and no baptize for up to two months.
Tim Johnson is administrator of agronomics for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.
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