The weather nowadays is totally unpredictable, one day it is chilling cold, the next it is blazing hot. Many regions have been experiencing low temperatures for weeks now, with temperatures falling to below nine degrees celsius. So how does this weather affect your lovely house plants?
First, during the cold season, house plants tend to droop and die off. Hosea Kipng’etich a plant expert from lower Kabete in Kiambu county shares tips and tricks on how to ensure your plants thrive even during cold weather. Kipng’etich says the secret lies in adjusting plant care routines to suit seasonal growing conditions.
If you’re one of the many people who let their plants enjoy the hot weather out on the verandah, balcony or backyard, this is the time to bring them back into the house.
“Once the nights start reaching below 12 degrees celcius, your plants are at risk of receiving cold damage. Remember plants can also go into shock if they experience quick temperature changes,” says Kipng’etich.
If possible, move your plants closer to windows so they can take advantage of light as much as possible, when the light comes later in the day.
If boosting the light levels isn't an option for you, most plants will be okay. "Your inside plants will adjust to the seasonal change outside," Kipng’etich says.
Houseplants commonly are set on a window sill to enjoy the light. If possible, move the plant away from the window so that the foliage does not touch the cold surface of the window.
This will prevent any cold damage happening to the leaves.
According to Kipng’etich finding a new spot under a lamp or overhead light for your plant baby may be advantageous.
“If your plants experience cold damage, the leaf will appear black in spots the cold has hit. Simply remove those leaves that are damaged. All is not lost as this does not mean a death sentence to your plant,” he says.
Like animals that hibernate, plants take a growth break during the cold weather. This is most because it’s not getting enough light to grow.
“Don’t be alarmed if your green plant suddenly has a few yellow leaves. Some species will thin themselves out to prepare for the cold season. Provide ample light and water correctly and your little green friends will overcome the challenges they are facing,” says Kipng’etich.
Fertiliser is most helpful during the hot season when the plant is taking in long hours of sunlight and is at its peak season of growth.
However, in the cold season the plant will not use these extra nutrients. Halt fertilising until the temperature is favourable, between 15 to 25 degrees celsius.
According to Kipng’etich “your normal water routine will be too much for them during all the changes.”
“To avoid overwatering and causing root rot, check the soil and make sure it’s dry and ready for a drink before watering,” he says.
Depending on the plant type or house temperatures, it may need to wait an extra week or more to dry down.
As we turn on our home heaters and fill the rooms with warmth, it also decreases the average humidity in the house. The crisp, dry air can really affect our green house guests.
“First, try to keep them away from drafts and direct line of heating vents. You can also help your plants out by placing them in rooms of higher humidity, like the bathroom, or perhaps positioning them close to your humidifier if you own one,” says Kipng’etich.
“Grouping your plants together is another simple way to let your plants help each other as they naturally give off moisture from their leaves,” he says.
Wipe down any dusty leaves with a soft cloth dipped in water. Left alone, dust can prevent your plant from fully absorbing the nutrients it needs from the environment.
The cold season is prime time for tiny insects such as aphids. Spider mites are another common cold season pest to watch out for.
“Turn plant leaves over and inspect their undersides every time you water. Check along stems, too. If you find any pests, try wiping them off with your fingers or an alcohol-soaked cotton ball,” advices Kipng’etich.