Winter Gardening Tips

by Donna Ferries

Winter Care for Houseplants

Watering

Remember these words: neglect with respect. Simply put, most houseplants don't need as much water during the winter season. Once a week test the moisture level (if the soil is dry at a 2-inch depth the plant needs water). Water thoroughly and allow the water to drain completely. If the plant has a saucer, dump any excess water after an hour or so. Obviously, there are certain plants that prefer being moist at all times. If you don't know what your plants require, do some Googling.

Keeping the plants clean

Winter is a great time to do some housecleaning on your plants. Removing accumulated dust and debris helps the plant breathe and look good. Also, a good cleaning will help wash away unwanted pests. A simple bubble bath by hand is all it takes. Be sure the water is tepid and use a very diluted solution of liquid dishwashing soap and water. Place the plant in a sink and sponge off the leaves with the warm soapy water. Finish by wiping the leaves once more with clean water. You can place larger plants in the shower to sponge off the leaves. Then use the showerhead to rinse the leaves! Allow the plant to drain thoroughly before returning it to its original location. If pests persist, use an insecticidal soap. (Neem Oil is a good choice.)

Other tips:

  • Most houseplants prefer daytime temperatures of 65° to 75°F, and night temperatures of 60° to 65°F.

  • Keep houseplants away from cold drafts, vents, and radiators.

  • Watch that foliage doesn't touch windows.

  • Many houseplants prefer a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent. Humidifiers are an option for increasing humidity in your home. Contrary to popular belief, misting houseplants does not raise humidity.

  • Fill a large saucer with gravel and add water to raise the humidity around the plant. (Be sure the bottom of the pot is not sitting in water.)

  • Don't repot in winter. Wait until new growth appears in the spring.

Winter Care for Outdoors

Troughs: If your troughs are located on a stone wall, move them down to ground level next to the wall to provide protection from the wind. After the holidays, remove the boughs from your Christmas tree and place them on the troughs. The boughs will keep the plants from heaving during the alternate freeze/thaw cycle.

 

Shrubs & Trees: Snow is one of nature’s greatest insulators. As long as it is not crushing a plant or placing too much weight on vulnerable branches, why not let it naturally pile up. It shouldn’t be a problem; in fact, it may actually help the plant weather the season. Do not shovel snow onto shrubs or trees and instruct your snowplow people not to unload snow on them.

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