For the Love of Plants – Houseplants, That Is!
The trend of having tropical houseplants in the home and office has grown exponentially over the years, and we’re not all that surprised! Who could say “no” to the beauty of an Orchid, the incredible arching foliage of a ZZ Plant, or any of the health benefits that come with caring for indoor houseplants?
But now it’s winter, and some of our tropical friends might not be looking as lush and lively as they did just a few months ago. We like to call this “having tropical houseplants during a Canadian winter” and the upside is that you’re not alone in your concerns. We’ve all gone from getting 15+ hours of bright, gorgeous sunlight in summer down to, well, not quite 0 but the few hours of sun we do get is considerably weaker. What does all of this mean for our plants? Simply put:
Less Sunlight = Less Energy Consumed = Less Growth = Less Frequent Watering
Tropicals will slow down in the lower light of winter, but won’t go fully dormant like the perennials out in the gardens. And along with less sunlight, houseplants also have changes with indoor temperatures and humidity levels to deal with – the use of baseboard heaters or furnaces may help keep us warm, but they also lower humidity levels. So what can we do to help our foliage friends get through to the light and warmth of spring and summer?
Adjust Your Watering Schedule (see equation above)
Lower light and slower growth means more time between deep, thorough drinks.
Every home environment is different, so there’s no set schedule for watering.
Check your plants daily and either test the soil moisture with your finger (to about your second knuckle) or judge by weight: once your plant has been watered thoroughly and excess water has been drained away, lift the pot to see how heavy it is. From here you can judge when a plant is too light and needs to be watered (this is the primary method we use at the greenhouse).
Drooping leaves or seeing the soil separate from the edge of the pot is usually a good indication that your plant needs a deep watering that reaches all the way to the bottom of its roots.
Many tropical houseplants prefer a humid environment (check your varieties to be sure). Plants like ferns and palms will love a daily misting, and all you need is a simple spray bottle.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT USE SOFTENED OR TREATED WATER FOR ANY OF YOUR PLANTS!
Using softened water can cause irreparable damage to your plants.
Use HARD WATER whenever possible.
Rotating your pots can also help them get through the winter, as it helps all sides of the plants get whatever sunlight they can. In rooms that don’t get a lot of natural sunlight, or those that have various different potted plants, switching your plants around will help them “share” the sunlight through the season.
So now that you know how to keep your tropicals happy and healthy through the winter, it’s time for the good stuff! Having “plant collections” is not just a fun way to keep greenery around you all year round, houseplants are also important for our own self-care and mental health. They create zones of tranquility and calm throughout the home and office, helping you to escape (temporarily) the daily chaos and just be in the moment, something we could all use a bit more of these days. Display them on tabletops, shelves, on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, wherever you can find space to bring the “jungle” into your home.
Here are some tips for growing healthy and “trendy” tropicals:
Fiddle Leaf Fig (ficus lyrata)
Medium to Bright Light. Let Dry Slightly Then Water WellA social media darling! Beautiful foliage is extra large and super glossy, and the deep green colour is picture perfect! Can be finicky, but not to the level of Ficus Benjamina – prefers a bright room but not in direct sunlight as this can cause burns. Mist for extra humidity. Can be pruned to shape when needed. Feed an all-purpose fertilizer monthly.
All Philodendron, including “Monstera”
Low to Direct Light. Let Dry Slightly Then Water WellA great Clean Air plant that thrives nearly everywhere! The now-classic “Monsterra” or Split Leaf varieties have a wide wingspan, while trailing varieties are perfect in hanging baskets. Remove old leaves as needed. Do not overwater. Feed an all-purpose fertilizer monthly.
Medium to Bright Indirect Light. Let Dry Slightly Then Water Well
Perfect for small spaces! Most varieties feature round and lush foliage, ranging from tiny silvery green to vivid green that looks like small lily pads! Very low maintenance, and does best in bright indirect light. Do not allow to sit in water. Feed an all-purpose fertilizer monthly.