Getting Houseplants Ready for Fall
It's that time of year again. Days are getting shorter, mornings are feeling crisper, and the trees are showing a little bit of color. While taking care of your houseplants might not be the first thing you think of when autumn hits, it's a great opportunity to get them ready for winter, as well as help them get the most out of the rest of the growing season.
Use this seasonal checklist to help you prepare your houseplants for fall:
1. Clean and Shine the Leaves
Cleaning the Leaves is a very important process for your plant year round, however when light is limited during the fall and winter months, you want the leaves to absorb as much sunlight as possible. This means removing any dirt and dust that has accumulated on the top and bottom of the leaves.
We use neem oil for a few reasons. The first are its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which help repel any pests such as spider mites and thrips. The second reason is neem oil also helps the leaves shine in the light! To start, use a microfiber cloth, or paper towel. Run under the water and ring out the excess water (you want the towel to be damp). Add just a few drops of neem oil and then evenly distribute it on the cloth and then wipe the leaves carefully, front and back.
We have found holding the leaf in your hand with your middle finger where the stem meets the leaf, then wiping the leaf from finger to the palm of your hand helps prevent any damage to the leaves. Also, with newer leaves, they are incredibly delicate, so wrap the cloth over your pointer finger while holding the leaf in your hand. Carefully clean the surface.
This is also a good opportunity to notice anything wrong with the plant, especially any indication of pests or disease.
2. Fertilize (Then Lighten Up until Spring)
Tropical plants grow much more slowly in the winter, because they receive less light, so they don't need as much fertilizer as they do during the growing season. Fall is the perfect time to ensure your houseplants have the nutrients they need before lightening up until spring.
We only use organic plant nutrients, which have the added benefit of conditioning the soil to provide nutrition to the plant long-term. Instead of fertilizing every few waterings, we can go down to once a month for most plants, and we dilute it in half.
3. Check the Lighting
With the sun at a different position in the sky in fall, double check that all of your houseplants are receiving adequate light where they are. They might appreciate being moved closer to a window. Or, if you want to keep them growing through the winter, you might think about a grow light. There are plenty of options, but we prefer LEDs because they use less energy and last much longer than traditional bulbs.
4. Cut off any Yellowing Leaves or Stems
Indoor plants naturally drop their leaves during the fall and winter months. With limited light, they go into preservation mode, meaning they try to conserve as much energy as possible. Sometimes, this means they will kill off some older leaves and absorb their nutrients, making them yellow before they shrivel up and fall off. Once they turn yellow, try remove them as they will invite unwanted pests!
5. Relocate Plants from any Drafts
Move your plants at least 1 foot from any doors or windows that can bring in the cold fall air. Cold drafts can detrimental to tropical plants, the same goes for heating vents.
Using this simple fall checklist should help prepare your plants for winter! Stay tuned for more seasonal checklists.