12 December 2017
What with lots of seasonal beauties from poinsettias to scented hyacinths and paperwhite daffodils, and lots of temptingly tropical greenery from palms, orchids and ferns to set it all off, it’s high season for houseplants. Here are our care tips to keep them looking gorgeous right through till spring:
- Don’t overwater: keep compost just moist using tepid water. Water cyclamen and African violets (Saintpaulia) from below, standing them in saucers of water for half an hour.
- Move plants closer to windows: light levels are lower in winter, so maximise what there is available. Make sure plants aren’t standing in a draught, and bring them into the room on frosty nights.
- Keep room temperatures even and avoid sitting plants too close to radiators: plants often do best in unheated rooms, where there’s less fluctuation between daytime and night time temperatures.
- Group plants on trays of damp gravel and mist foliage daily to keep humidity levels high and avoid the edges of leaves turning brown.
- Reduce or stop feeding unless plants are actively flowering, as during the cooler months of the year plants aren’t growing as much and don’t need as many extra nutrients.
- Keep forced bulbs cool; daffodils and hyacinths prefer lower temperatures, ideally down to about 10°C, to keep them fresh and prevent them growing lanky and floppy.
- Wipe leaves regularly with a damp cloth to keep them looking glossy and remove dust and grime; this also helps more light reach the plant.
- Snip off dead, damaged or dying leaves and remove fading flowers to keep your plants looking good.
- Watch out for pests such as mealybug, often found under leaves looking like patches of white cotton wool. Wipe off with a damp cloth or spray with insecticidal soap.