By Amber Kong
Now that spring is just around the corner, with it comes the promising warmer and sunnier days (fingers crossed for that my fellow Torontonians!). With the days getting longer and temperature higher, you know it’s a “green light” for your houseplants to grow as well. Awaken, wiggle, yawn, stretch. I can almost hear my plants going through the motions to celebrate the presence of spring. Here are some tips that will help your plants get ready for the grow season.
Spring cleaning, but for your plants
Don’t forget about your plants when making the spring clean to do list. I was amazed at how dirty those leaves become over the long months of winter. That first swipe with a damp cloth is always satisfying. Dust tends to build up on houseplants over the winter, especially on those with bigger foliage; and it can become an optimal breeding ground for insects and pests if not cleaned in time. So take a damp cloth and gently wipe the foliage down, and I guarantee that you’ll enjoy the shiny leaves. Plus, clean leaves photosynthesize better! A win for everybody.
Remember to use a clean cloth on each plant – so that we don’t spread any pests or diseases. This is also a perfect time to check under the leaves for hidden mites or mealy bugs.
Or, you can give your plants a shower by setting them in a deep sink, or bath tub for bigger plants. Let the water run for about 10 minutes (only works if your plants live in pots with drainage holes). Then let plants drip dry before returning them to their favourite spots in your home.
Repot / Up-pot, if needed
There’s no hard and fast rule for when to repot a plant, but if there was a best time to do it, it would be in the spring. As the plants waking up from winter dormant and sending out new growth, it could be a good idea to give your roots some wiggle room by changing to a slightly larger pot. As long as your plant isn’t EXTREMELY root bound, go up only one size – if the plant is in a 6” pot, choose an 8” pot for its new home; if the plant lives in an 8” pot, up-pot it to 10”. While it’s not necessary, repotting/up-potting in the spring will coincide with the new growth cycle, hence happier plants. With the nutrients in those fresh potting soil, the plants will get an extra boost of energy.
Prune to encourage new growth
Over the winter, many of the houseplants may have become weak or leggy, some of them might even have collateral damages, it’s all normal, don’t be stressed out by some dead leaves. But now it’s time to direct our plants to send their energy to the new healthy growth. Remove any unhealthy branches or leaves and clean them up. Make sure to use clean, sharp scissors or shears. Now that all the distractions are gone, just sit back and wait for your plants to shoot put the healthiest and the most beautiful foliage.
If you happen to have a Monstera Deliciosa, trimming off the small leaves from the base will encourage new growth and promote more fenestration!
When you’re repotting, it could be a good time to propagate the plant too. What’s better than free plants, right? Pothos, Monstera Deliciosa, Maranta, Syngonium, Snake plants and many more plants can be rooted in water, which is good way to “create” more plants. If you want to make an existing plant fuller, simply plant the rooted cuttings back to the “mother plant”. With warmer weather and more sunlight, the success rate of your propagation will improve as well.
Spring is the perfect time to treat your greenery a post-winter snack. As we mentioned in our Winter Plant Care blog, do not fertilize houseplants during winter unless there’s active growth. Well, now spring has sprung where the plants are waking up and send out new growth, it’s time to feed them. To do so, we recommend a liquid fertilizer and bottom-watering. Here are the easy steps you can follow, if you’re not 100% sure about how to fertilize your plants:
- Dilute the fertilizer with water in a big container, either to half strength or as directed on the bottle, we will call it “fertilized water”. We never want to over-fertilize though – it will shock the plants
- Pour “fertilized water” into a bowl, a deep dish… whatever you have on hand, then place your plant in the dish, let it pull the water up from the drainage hole ( it should be without saying, but this method only works if your planters have drainage.)
- Wait until the top layer of soil gets moist (usually about 30 to 45 minutes). Take the plant out of water and let it sit for a bit before putting it back.
If you don’t like using the bottom-watering method, just ensure that the soil is evenly moist before you fertilize it.
Relocate / Rearrange
Spring means longer days and more intense sunlight (I’m so ready for it!), but it’s important to check the lighting on your plants, especially at a south facing window. If you happen to have plants that are sensitive to bright indirect light (Calatheas for example), the high light will most likely hurt the foliage. Over winter, we move all our plants as close as possible to the light source because it was just so dark! But now it’s time to rearrange. Move the light sensitive plants further away from the window, and move those who love bright indirect light closer!
Another little trick is to group your houseplants together. That way the plants will create a an “atmosphere” for themselves with high humidity level. Higher humidity level equals to happier plants.
Update your watering routine
Again, with warmer weather and brighter light, the plants will be thirstier than in the winter months. It’s difficult to estimate how often you should water your houseplants – whenever someone tells you to water a certain type of plants every 7 days, don’t fall for it! The best way is to check the soil. Check on your plants more often in the spring to make sure you don’t underwater, or overwater. If a plant is wilting everyday and the soil is always dry, the chances are that plant needed to be up-potted. But if the plant wilts and the soil is moist, you’re probably dealing with root rot.
Now we have tackled down the basics of spring plant care, it’s time to get more houseplants! We can’t help but notice that the “IT” plants this year are slightly different than previous. The Ficus Altissima is slowly shining over iconic Fiddle Leaf Fig thanks to its easy care and hardy nature – a statement piece with low “investment risk” of the Fiddle Leaf. Lady Palm (Rhapis Palm) is becoming a hot commodity due to its elegant silhouette and versatile style, Maranta (Prayer plants), specifically Maranta Lemon Lime is gaining more popularity, and the good old Pothos are coming back in style! The bottom line is, there’s not really a “trend” in terms of houseplants, you should choose the plants that speak to you, and bring you joy. Take advantage of the Easter long weekend, eat some chocolate and head over to TPH to order some of your favourite plants!