With the sun higher in the sky and the days a bit longer, I’ve noticed my houseplants are starting to put on some new growth. It seems they are waking up from their winter slumber. Now is the time for some houseplant care before the outdoor garden starts calling. Here are a few tips from houseplant experts.
Feed them, but not too much. I don’t feed houseplants at all over winter. They are usually more-or-less dormant because of the dim light here in Minnesota, so pushing growth is unnatural for the plant. When they start to perk up in spring, it’s a good time to fertilize them. Any water-soluble or liquid fertilizer for houseplants will work, though many experts recommend diluting the fertilizer more than the package suggests — even by 50 percent.
Pot up the root-bound ones. Before you next water your plants, check the roots of plants that have been in the same container a year or more. Houseplants do not need to be re-potted often and some like to be snug in their pots, but if your plant is showing signs of stress, it may want a bigger pot. Choose a container that is just an inch or two larger than the one the plant is in now. Remove the plant (you may need to run a knife around the edge of the pot to get it free), rough up the roots a bit to break any circular grow patterns and place it in the new pot with fresh potting mix on the bottom and around the edges. Then water well and watch it grow. Our friend Amy from Get Busy Gardening has detailed instructions on re-potting houseplants on her website.
Clean them up. Plants benefit from a spring cleaning. Dust in the house can accumulate on their leaves, which actually blocks sunlight. You can wipe your houseplants’ leaves off with a damp towel, which is a contemplative activity that allows you to check for insects and diseases meticulously. Or, you can do what I do, and move them into the shower for a good dousing. A few minutes under warm water is all it takes. I let them drain for an hour or two to prevent water from dripping all over the house. Part of spring cleaning should also include trimming off any dead or withered looking leaves.
Who knows? With a little houseplant care, your babies may take a prize at the MSHS Potted Plant Show at the Minnesota State Fair this year!