By Katie Drewitz
University of Minnesota Extension
January can be a hard month for many people with the dark mornings, cold weather and persistent cloud cover. Houseplants are a great way to liven up your home or office, especially in the winter. In order to keep your houseplants healthy and long lasting it is important to know how to properly care for them and the environment in which they are growing.
Sunlight, water, and nutrients are three major factors that contribute to the overall health of your houseplants. If any one of these three factors is off, your houseplants will have a hard time dealing with pests and diseases. When you are choosing a houseplant, you want one that thrives in growing conditions that match your home’s environment. Consider the average temperature, humidity, and light availability. If you continually struggle with houseplants, these are likely contributing factors. Make sure that your plants are near a window that gets plenty of sunlight. South facing windows tend to be best. When placing near the window that you have determined to be best in your home, make sure the plant is not too close to the cold glass.
During winter months, homes are generally drier, which can lead to your plant needing to be water more often than during other times of the year. To properly water your plants, you need to start with understanding how much water they need. Each type of plant is a little bit different. Some may require watering throughout the week while others prefer a drier climate and will require minimal watering. When watering be sure to water at the base of the plant and avoid getting water on the leaves. It is important that you are not letting plants sit in water. Pots should have enough drainage holes that the roots are not continuously in saturated soil. Once the plant is done draining you should empty any excess water out of the saucer. Plants that sit in water will be at risk for root rot and more susceptible to fungus gnats and other pests.
Finally, nutrients in the form of fertilizer. It is recommended that you use a basic house plant fertilizer at half the recommended rate during the winter months. For best results fertilize when the plant is actively growing.
For more information on this topic, you can visit www.extension.umn.edu or call your local Extension Educator. Residents in Fillmore and Houston counties can call (507) 765-3896 or (507) 725-5807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.