Growing Plants – Grabbing a Piece of Spring

by Keith Markensen

The majority of your houseplants require year round care, but what indoor gardeners don’t consider is that the level of care provided may need to change with the season. Most houseplants actively grow and bloom in the spring and summer months, which tapers off as fall approaches and often ceases altogether as the winter months take hold.

These growing cycles are predicated on a few different variables. The main one is sunlight and the amount of that valuable resource that is available to them. This naturally lessens in the winter as the days become shorter, and the sky itself becomes more overcast in general. The second is simply continuing on the naturally growing cycle they experienced in the wild, which again was also influenced by the weather. Even though the ‘weather’ and temperature in your house is typically uniform and static no matter the season, this genetic disposition in the plant still holds some sway.

Here’s what you can do to take advantage of their natural growing cycles. Firstly a good fertilizer should be applied near the beginning of spring, as the plants are about to enter their growing spurt even in a desert landscape. This needs to be cut back in the summer, and then completely discontinue in the winter. If applied haphazardly, this extra feed can burn out a plant, causing root destruction and the plant’s untimely demise.

Watering habits should follow this same trend. In the spring and summer with the weather warmer and dryer, your plants will need more water to get by. Like with fertilizer though, an excess of water can also be harmful to your plants, so you need to cut back during the cooler months when your plants need, and can handle less sustenance.

Water not only helps with growth, but also works to keep the leaves and roots cool during those hot days. It can also be a good idea to lightly mist the leaves of your plants on hot days with a water bottle to further help in that regard.

Overwatering plants is the most common poor habit that indoor gardeners have, and this is magnified in winter, when plants can’t handle and digest as much water as they can in the summer. Always remember that no matter the unchanging conditions in your house, your indoor plant does change throughout the seasons based its own internal clock, and that you need to change with it.

Of course each plant species may require a slightly different approach, and in fact there are some houseplants that may work on a completely opposite routine. These are general rules that work with most houseplants, but be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with each individual plant you own and discover any particular quirks it may have.

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