Winter tips for indoor plants

Follow this winter checklist for happy and healthy indoor plants. Indoor plants bring a touch of the outdoors into our homes and are an especially welcome addition in the depths of winter. If given the right growing conditions, your indoor plants will reward you with year-round pleasure.

CalceolariaSunset

Calceolaria Sunset

If you would like to add some instant colour to your home, choose from the wide range of stunning indoor plants now available in garden centres. Try African violet, begonia, cyclamen, peace lily, calceolaria, kalanchoe, cymbidium orchids, chrysanthemums, cineraria and Primula acaulis.

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Begonia

Here is an essential winter care checklist for your indoor garden:

  • Fertiliser. Indoor foliage plants go into semi-dormancy during the winter, so it is not necessary to fertilise them. However, winter is the growing season of spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinths and plants such as cineraria, cyclamen, poinsettias, chrysanthemum and begonia. Feed these plants every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser, and water every two to three days.
  • Light and air. Most houseplants require good, indirect light – not direct sunlight, particularly damaging is sunlight striking them through glass. The light should be balanced. If it is stronger on one side turn plants a little, from time to time, to prevent them from becoming lopsided. Do not place plants near south-facing windows (they will feel the chill rather badly in cold areas) – a north-facing window, screened by a net or voile curtain, is a good position.
  • Temperature. Many indoor plants originate in the tropics and therefore prefer to be on the warm side. In cold areas and rooms heated by heaters and fireplaces, the plants will need extra humidity to keep them happy: plants should be misted with tepid water regularly to counteract the effects of reduced humidity.
  • Water. Use tepid or lukewarm water. Your plants are able to absorb it easier, and it will not send them into a state of shock. Reduce the watering schedule of indoor foliage plants, but never let them become bone dry. A dose of warm or lukewarm water every 10 days is quite sufficient for most indoor plants as they go into a semi-dormancy in midwinter.
  • Cleaning. In the course of a year, indoor plants collect dust which can block the leaf pores. Make sure that the dust is removed from the top and bottom of leaves. For small indoor plants, put them in a bath or shower and give them a gentle spray of lukewarm water. For larger plants, a warm wet cloth will do the job.
  • Repotting. June is also the time to assess whether to your plants need a larger container. Are roots growing out of the base of the pot? Are the new leaves on the plant smaller that the existing leaves? Does the plant dry out quickly? If the answer is yes, yes, yes – your plant needs a larger home.

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Cineraria

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Primula acaulis

Before moving it to a larger container, wet the soil slightly so the plant will slip out easily. Untwist matted roots with a fork, and trim twisted roots. For a large plant, the new pot should be 5cm wider and deeper than the original. Layer the base of the new pot with pebbles for drainage, fill in the sides with potting soil, and water thoroughly.

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