By William Mills
As the colder weather returns and the evenings draw in there are a number of changes in our houseplants’ environment which we need to be aware of.
The shorter daylight hours encourage plants to have a rest and stop growing. Accordingly watering and the use of fertiliser should be cut right back.
The best way to judge watering is to gage the weight of the plant’s pot by lifting it both when it’s dry, and just after watering. Water is heavy and the difference is really noticeable.
Also buying a moisture probe is useful and they are available from garden centres and purchasing online.
However the problem many encounter in the autumn is that home heating tends to cause dry air leading plants to wilt.
Anxious owners then over compensate with extra watering, but because the plant is having its winter nap the roots don’t absorb the moisture resulting in rot setting in. Once that happens the plant is likely lost.
Therefore plants must have increased humidity to offset winter central heating. This is achieved by providing localised moisture in the area immediately surrounding the plants.
It can be done both by regular misting with an air sprayer and the use of a pebble tray.
In the illustration, a simple plastic tray measuring 21”x 21” has been filled with gravel and water added right up to the top.
Then individual plants placed on their own bases and can be watered as necessary.
Here, they are also misted twice a week, and a nearby radiator is kept off or turned down.
Gravel can be obtained from either a garden centre or aquarium section of a pet shop.
It’s not permitted to take pebbles from the beach, besides they may be covered in tar and have absorbed unhealthy chemicals.
The plants shown here have really flourished this year. The small rose has flowered twice. The beautiful red petals have a timeless allure.
A scented one can soften the thoughts. Outside the aroma quickly evaporates whereas indoors it lingers for longer. Jasmine, Citrus and Rose are the most sought after essential oils for mood enhancement and love potions.
The rest period for plants is really important and the autumn is an ideal time. Once the shortest day, 21st December is past artificial light can be used to help plants get growing again.