Christopher Satch, head of Plant Science and Education here at The Sill, shares his top four seasonal plant care tips below. No green thumb required.
Autumn is here! The days are getting shorter, the sun hangs lower in the sky, and most importantly, it’s getting colder. Your house plant buddies that are taking a summer vacation outdoors need to come back indoors. Moving plants inside is more than just physically moving them inside- you have to check them for insects, acclimate them to the lower light, trim old growth, possibly repot a few, and optimize your indoor conditions as well.
Acclimate the light!
An old horticulture adage says that “even the shadiest spot outdoors is equivalent to the brightest spot indoors”. Outdoors, light scatters in all directions, whereas indoors, light comes from only one direction, the window. Bearing that in mind, if your cacti have been sun-bathing all summer, if they do not acclimate to lower light levels before going indoors, they will go into shock and start to look sickly. Same deal for other plants. Start them all off by putting them in the shade for about a week before moving indoors. This will allow them to get used to lower light levels.
Clean and trim!
Over the summer, your plant has probably bursted over the sides of the pot with new growth, or has shunned older leaves in favor of newer ones. Remove all dead tissue from your plants. Do not be afraid to trim your plants, if you do not wish to repot it. Some plants like Monsteras respond well to a yearly trim or repotting. Otherwise, if your plant has truly grown monsterous, depending on the plant, you can either split it, or repot it. We at The Sill have plenty of pots for your plants to have new homes! Do this before spraying with hort oil, after the plants have acclimated for a week. Take this time also to dust the area where the plants will go- just to be sure that spider mites haven’t made their home there.
Check plants for insects!
Not all insects are bad, but the ones that cling to your plant and make a nest indoors usually are. Spray all plants coming indoors the day you bring them in with horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap. These oils and soaps work by making the exoskeleton frail, and plugging the air holes, thereby killing the insect. Spider mites, which are known indoor plant killers love to hitch rides indoors, and have even been observed to ride on dust! Make sure you dust your home to help prevent any hitch-hikers.
And for your permanently outdoor collection,
Fall is for bulb planting! Plant all spring ephemerals/bulbs now to ensure a robust burst of spring flowers next year. Clear the garden of dead plant matter, as this is where pests overwinter- dead leaves now make for dead plants later if the leaves aren’t composted or removed. Possibly plant a cover crop like nitrogen-fixing clover- to enrich the soil for next year’s plants. Remember that what goes out of the soil into the plants, must be replaced in the soil. It’s the Law of Return- all nutrients taken from the soil, must be replaced for a healthy soil and good yields. The same goes for your houseplants, but on a smaller scale. Fertilize well during phases of growth, and whenever you take from the plant tissue- living or dead.
P.S. Have a particular plant care question for Chris? Comment below!