Au­tumn house­plant care

Fol­low these top tips to keep them healthy and flour­ish­ing

Garden News (UK) - - About Now -

Treat house­plants to a bit of clean now. Leaves ben­e­fit from dust­ing and clean­ing with a wet cloth and give it a light, luke­warm shower for a cou­ple of min­utes. Clean round the out­side and bo om of con­tain­ers to get rid of muck and po­ten­tial pests.

Make sure you bring in all your ten­der house­plants from out­side now that the tem­per­a­tures are low­er­ing, as ex­ces­sive wet weather teamed with cold won’t do many of them much good.

Dead­head spent flow­ers and prune off dam­aged or dy­ing leaves and stems to help them se le in and re­cover from be­ing out­side. Not only does it neaten plants, it en­cour­ages healthy new growth and re­duces the chance of pests and disease be­ing har­boured any­where.

Good light is es­sen­tial too – plants that got suf­fi­cient light in sum­mer may suf­fer in au­tumn and win­ter if they’re now plunged into dull­ness. Move them to bright, warm con­ser­va­to­ries and sun­nier win­dowsills, and en­sure cur­tains and blinds aren’t ob­scur­ing light. Flow­er­ing plants and those with var­ie­gated leaves need brighter spots; ferns, how­ever, can be placed in darker po­si­tions.

En­sure they get as much warmth in­doors as they need – around 12-18C (54-64F) is stan­dard. Avoid ex­tremes of tem­per­a­ture, such as win­dowsills that are cold at night or heat blast­ing out from ra­di­a­tors.

It’s usu­ally best to wait un­til spring to re­pot your house­plants, when you can give them a slightly larger pot with added fresh, moist com­post. If your plants are healthy as they are, there’s no need to re­pot.

Check house­plants for any dam­age or pests as they come in­doors. Check un­der leaves, in crevices, in pots and com­post for aphids and slugs and snails, but also for in­doors pests like mealy­bug, scale or red spi­der mite, which will love be­ing in­doors and mul­ti­ply­ing.

By now you should be re­duc­ing most of your house­plants’ wa­ter­ing and feed­ing regimes. They can be given a rest dur­ing au­tumn and win­ter and be en­cour­aged to cease grow­ing and us­ing up en­ergy, which will ben­e­fit them in the long run. Wa­ter once ev­ery two weeks, and stop wa­ter­ing cacti com­pletely. The ex­cep­tions are Christ­mas cacti and poinse ias – keep wa­ter­ing these if dry.

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