It can be very challenging to keep some plants healthy until spring arrives. Indoor plants are subject to a number of problems.
The main factors that affect the health of houseplants are light, water, temperature and fertilizer. Plants that receive too much or too little of any of these can lead to problems. To make this more difficult, the requirements of these factors can vary greatly from plant to plant.
Light is very important during the winter months. Most plants will receive sufficient light if placed near a southern or western facing window. In some cases, supplemental light may be needed.
The correct amount of water is critical. Soil should be allowed to get fairly dry to the touch before adding water. All indoor plant containers need holes for drainage with a retainer pan underneath them. In many cases, indoor plants get too much water.
Most plants can tolerate a wide range of temperatures as long as they do not get extremely high or low. The ideal temperature for most indoor plants is around 75°F in the daytime and 65°F at night. Care should also be taken to keep plants out of drafts near exterior doors and out of the immediate area of a heat source.
There are a number of different fertilizers available at local retail outlets, and most plants respond well to a fertilizer application. But, indoor plants usually have reduced fertilizer requirements since they are often growing slowly due to low light or some other limiting factor. More indoor plant problems result from over-fertilization than under-fertilization.
Maintaining healthy houseplants can be challenging at times, but it is possible to keep them thriving by closely monitoring the factors that affect their health.
For more details about caring for houseplants, stop by the Walker County Extension Office at 102 East Napier Street in LaFayette.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.