Now that we’re into September, and the weather is getting cooler, its time to focus on some indoor gardening. Houseplant and indoor gardening provide year-round interest, and for anyone working from home the calming green of the foliage is soothing and relaxing for the eyes after the glare of the computer screen.
A good rule of thumb is to reduce watering and feeding about the same time that the clocks go back. This means allowing the soil to dry out more thoroughly between watering and making sure the water you do use is lukewarm or tepid rather than ice cold.
The majority of houseplants won’t need feeding in the winter months because the light levels are lower, resulting in less growth, so overfeeding at this time of year will result in spindly, leggy growth.
Let there be light!
Plants that enjoyed a shadier spot during the bright summer months may now benefit from being moved to a brighter spot to maximise the light that is available to them. This is the perfect time to move your houseplants to their new home for the next few months, it’s certainly better to relocate them now than in the depths of winter.
Don’t overheat your plants
If you have underfloor heating, make sure your plants are raised off the ground so there is some space between the bottom of the pot and the source of heat. A great idea is a Planttaxi as you can move plants around with ease.
Keep the bugs at bay
Once heating is on the air will become dry so keep an eye out for Red Spider Mite, which makes the leaves look yellow and mottled, with tiny insects in webs between the stem and the leaves, and on the back of leaves. You can keep them at bay by spraying with water – the red spider mite does not like a moist atmosphere, and it’s the same for Mealy Bug, which shows up as minute tufts of cotton wool between the leaves, and sticky patches underneath the leaves.
A heavy infestation of Mealy Bug needs a bug killer to get rid of it such as SB Spray, but if there is only a small amount, you can wipe it off with a cotton bud dipped in methylated spirits or alcohol gel (aka hand sanitiser!), being careful not to touch the leaves, just the mealy bug itself.
Plants like living together
The air in the average centrally heated home is as dry as the Sahara, so it’s good to increase humidity in the air once your heating is on. Try standing plants as a group on a tray or saucer or on some damp gravel, so that the pots are standing on the damp gravel - rather than in the water. The humidity creates a micro-climate round the plants to help the leaves stay pest-free.
Kids off to Uni?
There are some classic rough’n’tough houseplants which even the student will struggle to kill off. Some examples include the Aspidistra, aptly also named ‘Cast-Iron Plant’ for its ability to withstand cold, shade, drought and fluctuations in temperature. The Victorians loved these for their parlours, which were often poorly lit and heated.
Another toughie is the Sansevieria, or ‘Snake Plant’ which thrives on neglect, hardly needs watering, i.e. not more than every 3 weeks in winter.
The Zamioculcas or ‘Zee-Zee plant’ is a more modern cultivar, developed by growers for its ability to withstand shade and drought, and doesn’t mind some bright sun in the summer months. The Scindapsus, also known, confusingly as Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy , or Epipremnum is a good robust trailing plant for bookshelves and for trailing over the edge of tables and desks that thrives on a bit of benign neglect. Succulents and Cacti are also very forgiving plants, but they will need a light spot and won’t need much watering in the Autumn and Winter.
As life becomes more ‘indoor-based’, people love to freshen up their homes with some lush green foliage plants, there is always a huge selection to choose from in our houseplant department and we have everything you need to keep your houseplants healthy and happy.
We also have an expert team on hand to answer any questions you may have regarding plant choice or how best to keep them happy! We look forward to welcoming you to one of our amazing garden centres soon!