It’s that time of year again… And as the temperature changes outside – your plant care routine should change inside. We know houseplants thrive during the spring and summer, but the real challenge is helping them survive during the fall and winter (when you need them most).
That’s where we come in. Modify your current plant care routine by following our top seasonal tips below – and check out more Fall Plant Care tips from our expert friends like The Houseplant Guru’s Lisa Eldred Steinkopf and Garden Blogger Benjamin Thorton in our fall plant care series.
Fall Plant Care Tips & Tricks – The Sill
– Move Indoors
If you moved any of your plants outside for the summer, it’s time to bring them back indoors before it gets too chilly (before nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees F). Keep in mind they might have picked up a few pesky friends during their summer vacation – so check your plants carefully for pests before bringing them inside. Even if you don’t see anything, give your plants a good but gentle hose down. And if you want to be extra cautious, which definitely doesn’t hurt, spray your plant’s leaves with a generous amount of diluted neem oil, an organic vegetable oil and natural pesticide. It can be a bit smelly – so we recommend doing this outside if possible.
Remember it’s OK to ditch some plants outside, too. Consider the health of each plant before bringing it back inside your home or office. If a plant has struggled to survive outdoors, bringing it indoors to less than ideal conditions like low humidity and dry heat will likely cause it to get worse. Add it to the compost pile.
– Potentially Repot
For most plants, spring and summer is when you’ll see the most new growth. Some of your plants will have increased dramatically in size – maybe they’ve even outgrown their current pots and need to be repotted. Plan to have some fresh potting soil and new planters on hand just incase. First time repotting? Don’t fret! See our step-by-step Repotting 101 Guide (with photos!) on Refinery29.
– Dust Leaves
Like dust accumulates on your bookshelf, it also accumulates on the porous surfaces of your houseplant. Lightly dust off leaves and stems with a damp cloth every week or so. Accumulated dust on leaves plug their pores – making it difficult for plants to “breathe” and conduct photosynthesis. Also give your windows a good wash (if possible). The more light that can shine in and reach your plants – especially as the days get shorter – the better.
– Increase Humidity
Indoor humidity levels drop considerably during the fall as buildings fire up their heating systems. This can be devastating for houseplants, considering most common varieties are tropical in origin. Try to mist your plants weekly, or invest in a humidifier (your skin will thank you, too!). And remember to never place potted plants next to, or on top of, a heating system – or in the line of a cold draft (i.e. a window you’ll open regularly come winter). These extreme changes in temperature will cause serious stress to your plants.
Consider grouping plants together that require similar care. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s an easy way to increase humidity levels.
– Maintain Light
The angle of the sun changes considerably with the season, so pay close attention as fall settles in. Some plants might require a new location – i.e. a spot closer to the windowsill – to receive close to the same amount of sun as they did during the summer. In addition, rotate your plants every week or two so they receive light on all sides.
– Forgo Fertilizer
Foliage growth slows down considerably during the fall and winter months, so you can withhold from using any fertilizer until next spring, which is the start of the growth season.
– Water Less
This is one of the most important tips to follow – but cautiously. Because the growth rate of plants is considerably slower in the fall and winter, your plants might not require as much water as they did during the spring and summer. You could find yourself watering half, or even two-thirds, less frequently. For example, that snake plant might find itself thirsty once every six weeks, instead of every three weeks. It is important to keep in mind though how dramatically drier the air might be – so even if your houseplant might require more infrequent waterings, it might also require more humidity. A good rule of thumb is to check your plants regularly. If the soil is bone dry – it’s time to water. And make sure to always use tepid water – a freezing cold shower can shock your plants.
– Get Creative
If you don’t have set spots for each of your houseplants, enjoy moving them around your space until you reach your desired look. Just make sure each plant is receiving the recommended light it needs to thrive – and isn’t in the line of a draft or vent. If you’re unsure what type of light your plant requires, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @TheSill.
Fall is also a great time to work on checking off some tasks on your design wish list. If you always dreamed of installing floating shelves, or ceiling hooks, now is the time. Just make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold your houseplant after a thorough watering, which will make them heavier overall. Your trailing houseplants, like pothos and philodendrons, will thank you.