Caring For House Plants Over Winter

For success with house plants over winter, it is important to consider your watering regime. Most plants require less water at this time of year. It is best to let the soil dry out completely before adding more. Depending on the moisture in your home, this could take a week or sometimes even longer. Use the index finger test. Dip your index finger at least 1 inch into the soil surface, if any moisture is detected, wait a few days. It is more harmful to overwater than underwater during the winter. I like to take my plants to the sink, remove them from their saucer or decorative pot, set them in the sink with the drain plug in and let them sit for a bit until they are well saturated. When you water, try to avoid watering the leaves. After a period of approximately 10 minutes, remove the drain plug and allow the water to completely drain from the plant pot before returning the plant to its saucer or decorative pot and replacing it to its spot in your environment. This method works well for plants such as African Violets or Orchids however it might not be possible, if you have larger houseplants, In this case, water the surface of the soil, just until the water runs out into the saucer. If you can have the plant pot elevated on a bed of small stones it is helpful as you can leave a little water there for the plant to absorb over a few days without having the plant sit in water. I fill my watering can at least 24 hours before watering and I add a few drops of liquid fertilizer (available at garden centers or the hardware store) to the water. This ensures that the water will be at room temperature and less of a shock to the plant roots. Also, if you live in a community that adds chlorine to the water, letting the water sit will allow the chlorine to dissipate before you water. Signs of overwatering include brown wilting leaves, yellow falling leaves and root rot. If you notice any of the above, allow the plant soil to dry out completely before watering again and follow the regime suggested above. Adding houseplants to your environment provides many benefits. That will be a topic for another day.

A good choice of houseplant this time of  year is Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera).
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