In recent decades, houseplants of all sorts have become increasingly favoured, whether that be in the workplace or in our own homes. This is due to their proven health benefits, such as purifying the air or improving our mental well-being. However, the most important part of being a plant parent is recognising how to care for your houseplants and adjusting according to every season. In the winter, houseplants are not actively growing, therefore they need to be watered less frequently to avoid overwatering them, and feeding should be paused to prevent weak growth and root rot from occurring. During this time, it is recommended to move your houseplants to a brighter spot, when plants are naturally deprived of sunlight. Additionally, you will have to monitor the humidity for certain plants, e.g. calatheas and ferns, by installing a humidifier, as central heating can dry out the air which will affect such plants. Exposing plants to extreme temperatures and sudden temperature fluctuations, such as leaving them on windowsills or near any heat sources, will cause them to suffer, if temperatures are allowed to fall or rise too much. In this article, we will provide you with some tips and advice on how to look after the most common houseplants in the UK to maintain their lushness and striking foliage.
Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum Aureum)
Devil’s ivy (Pothos) is one of the most popular houseplants in the UK, because of its bright green variegated leaves and versatility. Unlike many houseplants, devil’s ivy will tolerate lower light conditions, which makes it a perfect winter houseplant when it becomes darker outside. However, leaving it in a shady spot may lead to a loss of variegation on its leaves and too much sun may cause the leaves to go a pale colour. Ideally, Devil’s ivy should be kept in a warm room above 15C, at the same time being supplied with bright, indirect light to experience its charm. When it comes to watering, the plant is drought tolerant and only needs watering occasionally, therefore you should let the top two inches of soil dry out in between waterings. Between October and March, the plant does not to be fertilised and will grow slower during this time than in the growing season. Furthermore, it will appreciate a humid environment, which is made harder with the dry, centrally heated indoor air in winter, so it is advised to mist it from time to time with lukewarm water or to keep it in a naturally damp room, such as a bathroom or a kitchen. If you encounter black spots on the leaves or yellow leaves, that is an indication that the plant has been overwatered or exposed to too much direct sunlight, but the oldest leaves will yellow naturally. If under-watered, the edges will turn brown and crispy.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Peace lilies have also been popular in the UK for some time due to their white flowers and glossy green leaves. Like the devil’s ivy, peace lilies will tolerate lower light conditions, but to get the most out of your peace lily in winter, you may consider moving it closer to a well-lit window with bright, indirect light. Unlike devil’s ivy, peace lilies prefer consistently moist soil and should not be allowed to dry out completely, only letting the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Just like with many other plants, you should keep it away from drafts and heat sources, because it is vulnerable to extreme temperatures, and this will cause harm to the plant. In addition, you should keep an eye out for diseases and pests, such as aphids and scale insects, and use neem oil or insecticidal soap, if necessary. For peace lilies to thrive, ensure that the temperature is kept above 10C, preferably between 18 to 27C, and that it is receiving sufficient humidity of around 50% or higher. Yellowing leaves suggest that the plant has been overwatered, so let it dry out a little before your next watering, and the older leaves will yellow naturally. Brown leaves or spots indicate that the plant is not receiving enough humidity due to central heating, so consider misting the plant or installing a humidifier next to it to increase the humidity.
Aloe vera, one of the most common plants in the UK, is an easy to grow plant that requires little maintenance, due to its succulent leaves which keep the plant hydrated. During the growing season (March-September), the plant should only be watered occasionally, as it prefers dry soil conditions, rather than consistently moist soil. However, during the winter months, you should water the plant even more sparingly, approximately once a month, but this will depend on the temperature and how much light it is receiving. Overwatering an aloe vera will cause the leaves to turn a pale colour, so let the soil dry out entirely in between waterings, do not let it sit in soggy compost, and ensure there is proper drainage to drain excess water. On the contrary, an underwatered aloe vera will turn a brownish auburn. As aloe vera is a desert plant, it does not appreciate too humid an environment in your home, unlike the aforementioned plants, but you also shouldn’t allow the humidity to drop too low, with around 40% being perfect for it to thrive. What could be problematic is the amount of light in winter, so placing an aloe vera near a south or a west-facing window should maximise the amount of bright, indirect light it obtains. The plant should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as this will scorch the leaves. Like most plants, the plant needs to be kept away from any draughts or heat sources, with the temperatures not dropping below 10C, ideally between 12 to 25C, and it does not tolerate frosts.
Plants add a bit of greenery to our homes, no matter the season and the weather outside. However, the decreasing light levels in the winter and colder temperatures mean that you will need to adjust how you care for your houseplants. Remember to reduce watering and move your plants to a place where they are more likely to be exposed to bright, indirect light. However, try to avoid too much direct light because this will burn the leaves. Since they are not actively growing, you should also stop feeding them, as it is not an obligation during winter, and resist repotting until spring. By taking advantage of these tips, you will be able to maintain your houseplants to keep them looking wonderful and healthy, and you can also enjoy a period of rest while they are dormant.
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