Houseplants: ‘Extremely important’ to let indoor plants rest – ‘will lead to weak growth’

Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants

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Houseplants are extremely popular because many of them are low maintenance. However, with winter just around the corner, indoor plants can suffer massively if they are not taken care of properly. 

Pol Bishop, gardening expert working for Fantastic Gardeners has shared his top tips on looking after houseplants during the colder months.

Pol said: “It’s extremely important to allow your plants some rest over the 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 very 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.”

The gardening expert also warned owners to look out for pests.

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

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

“Indoor plants often gather a lot of home dust on their leaves. This drastically reduces the light that reaches their leaves, making it difficult for them to manufacture food.”

During the winter months, cleaning houseplants also becomes extremely important.

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

The build-up of dust on the houseplant can reduce its ability to photosynthesise. 

The expert explained that most houseplants need a temperature of around 12 to 18 degrees.

Pol added: “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. Make sure they are kept away from heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces.”

Pol explained that the heat can “scorch” the houseplants, causing them to become damaged.

The expert went on: “Indoor plants don’t need large amounts of water to thrive.

“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 most houseplants to once every fortnight.

“Stop watering cacti entirely, water succulents every two to three weeks.”

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