How to look after your houseplants this Autumn
Posted on October 04 2020
Well the seasons are well and truly shifting. Autumn is showing all it's glory. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing colour and we begin to feel a sense of dormancy and slowing down. Your plants raced through the excitement of spring and summer. Rapidly growing new leaves, shoots and maybe even flowers. Now it's time for them to slow down, conserve and recoup.
I don't know about you, but autumn and the change of seasons, makes me feel like snuggling up under the duvet or a cosy throw with a hot drink and watching the world go by. As we feel the sense of slowing down and chilling out our plants do too.
Autumn is a transition period where houseplants edge towards their natural winter dormancy. You may notice your green pals are taking up less water, their growth is slowing and they're settling in for the winter time. It's easy to think houseplants won't be affected by the seasons as they are tucked away inside our but this isn't true. They are a little protected thats for sure, but are still in-tune with the change in temperature, air, and natural light.
So with this in mind here are a few autumn tips for you and your houseplants:
Trim and tidy up
This is the perfect time to set aside a few hours to tidy up your plants. Grab some clean sharp scissors or secateurs and off you go. Trim off any dead or dying leaves at the base of the stem near the soil. With healthy houseplants you can prune them back to encourage a bushier plant next year. When pruning be sure to cut at least 1/2 inch above a leaf node. This is where their new shoot will grow from in the spring.
** Be careful not to remove more than 20% of your plant as it can go into shock. And remember to clean your scissors between plants to make sure you're not transferring any unwanted bugs or beasties.
Last chance to repot before Spring
Spring is the ideal for repotting your houseplants, however, if summer has pushed your plants to their pot limits then now is a small window to repot them. Carefully take the plant out of the pot and check the roots. Are they looping around and looking crowded and cramped? Or maybe they're creeping out the pot drainage holes? If yes then your plant is crying out to be repotted.
**With most plants there's no need to pot up more than one size. If your plant is potted up into to big a pot it can increase the risk of water-logging around the plants roots and can lead to root rot.
Overwatering is the easiest mistake to make and the biggest killer of houseplants. The autumn, winter months are a tricky period where it's very easy for this to happen so be careful. Now is the time to scale back your watering routine. I always encourage checking the soil of each plant before watering. If it's still moist then leave that plant out. It might be that some of the succulents and cacti don't need watering for 6 weeks at a time - and thats ok. Always edge towards leaving it an extra week if you're not sure.
Move towards the light
Autumn equinox sees a shift in the sun's angle. You may notice light hitting different parts of your room, compared to the during summer months. Also the sunlight hours are greatly reduced. Have a look at where the light touches and move your plants around to suit this. Pop them close to windows where possible. There is not much worry of sun scorch during the autumn/winter months so how about treating them to a holiday by the window. They will love the extra sunlight.
Avoid extreme temperature hot spots
Plants are not a big fan of sudden hot or cold bursts. These can shock them, and a serious shock can lead to plant death. Be mindful of your radiators and open windows in the winter. Most plants don't appreciate the cold drafts or hot dry air generated. How about turning one of your radiators off if you can. Or move your plants at least half a meter away from them.
I know it can sound a little overwhelming but please don't worry, you've got this. Just do what you can. If you just do one of these tips then reducing watering.
Over winter you may see some deterioration in your plants - dropping leaves, browning edges, but to an extent this is normal. Just keep an eye on them ask me any questions and trust me in spring they're going to bounce right back!