Many people bring their plants indoors for winter, in the conservatory, kitchen or dining room. As well as protecting your plants, you can display them in decorative plant stands and holders to brighten your day and enhance your living space throughout the dull, grey winter.
In recent years, it’s become the norm for us to have a mixture of traditional trees and shrubs with exotic plants such as tree ferns, bananas and bamboos in our gardens. It may be rewarding to grow something in the UK that you’d normally see in the Mediterranean countryside or barren desert but these plants will take a lot of care in the winter months.
Most house plants are tropical and many of us keep them outside on plant stands to decorate patios for a beautiful summer garden. However once the weather starts to change, you’ll need to bring them back in. Some tropical plants should be moved indoors as early as when temperatures start reaching 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tender Loving Care
It’s not just tropical plants that require extra attention. Frost can damage tender plants, summer flowering bulbs, early sowings, cuttings and new plants. This includes things like geraniums, cannas, callas, gingers, aroids, ensetes, tulips and lilies. A little research will pay dividends, so get to know your plants and their lower temperature tolerances.
The level of winter protection required depends on where you live and how exposed your garden is. For example, in a sheltered city garden, you may get away with not protecting tender plants at all. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to simply move plant pots and plant stands to a sheltered area of your garden.
For plants that require warm environments that are potted or small enough to be dug up, simply move them indoors for the winter. Summer flowering bulbs can be dug up and dry stored in a frost free place. For larger plants and trees that are in-ground, you’ll have no option but to nurse them through the freezing conditions, using horticultural fleece and a heavy mulch covering.
Digging up your perennials for winterisation can be beneficial for other reasons. When flowering decreases or the plant starts to die out in the centre, it ought to be divided to stop it from dying out. This means you can kill two birds with one stone. It will also give you extra plants to make decorative displays on plant stands for next year.
Some tender perennials such as lavender or rosemary like a period of dormancy in winter. It may be better to keep these in the garage or shed. They won’t enhance your indoor space so there’s no point keeping them in ornate plant stands, pots and holders. They won’t freeze but will stay dormant. Just don’t let the pots dry out.
Some plants will not enjoy rooms with central heating; it will be a shock to their system and dry them out too much. If this is the case, you may find that it would be better to care for them outside.
7 Winter Care Steps
1. Check your plants for small insects like aphids or spider mites and remove them. Hose them down, leave them to dry and thoroughly check they’re ‘clean’ or they’ll infest other houseplants.
2. Only keep healthy plants. If something has been struggling all summer, it is not going to improve indoors and is perhaps not worth the effort.
3. This is a great time for pruning or re-potting. Never prune back more than a third of the plant and prune an equal amount from the roots as you do off the foliage.
4. Where you put them will depend on the space you’ve got, try to choose somewhere with plenty of natural light. If you don’t have much space, you may be better to taking stem cuttings and rooting them.
5. Give your outdoor plants time to acclimatise. The light and humidity changes from outside to inside are dramatically different. Gradually increase the amount of time the plant spends indoors over about 2 weeks. Start by bringing them in at night and bringing them indoors whilst the windows are still open.
6. You may need to boost indoor humidity. During the winter, relative humidity drops to 10-15% indoors. Most houseplants need a relative humidity of 40-60%. Leaf curling or brown leaf tips are signs that your plant is not getting enough humidity. Cluster them together on plant stands, use a room humidifier or move plant stands to high humidity rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen.
7. Most plants need less water and fertiliser in the winter because their growth tends to slow down in response to the lower light and temperature conditions. You only need to water them weekly or when the soil becomes dry to the touch.
To ensure their survival and brighten up your home; give your plants winter refuge and they’ll be ready to burst back into life in spring. In spite of your best efforts, some plants may lose leaves or show other signs of stress. Don’t worry, usually the stress is temporary and the plant will recover.
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