As nighttime temperatures begin to dip from 55 to 60 degrees, it’s time to bring houseplants inside. Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, houseplant guru and author of “Grow in the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants” (Cool Springs Press), suggests moving to a shady spot for a while. days before activity to help them acclimate to low light conditions indoors.
As the heat goes, humidity decreases and plants, except cactus, hate dry heat. Don’t be surprised if the leaves turn yellow and fall off. Your plant is being repaired. So don’t overreact and drink water daily. Some plants prefer the soil to be slightly dry while others like moist soil. But dry soil is a recipe for disaster. Your moisture meter will help you gauge how much water your plants need.
Some indoor plant books recommend misting the plant with water twice a day, but the mist dries quickly and is of little use, and wetting the leaves can promote disease. It is best to place plants on gravel trays filled with water. As the water evaporates, the humidity rises and the humidity around the plants increases.
To make a pebble tray, take a saucer or shallow tray that is larger than the flower pot and fill it with small pebbles. Add water to a depth below the surface of the rocks. Be careful – just sitting the pot in water will lead to root rot. The gravel should not detract from your decor. For a formal look, use a cut glass tray and glass or plastic crystals on Michael or Joan fabrics. The possibilities are endless.
The air circulation will keep your plants happy, and a little fan will do the trick. I have clips on the frame that hold my LED light.
Last summer, I introduced the small Tradescantia ‘Pink Panther’ to a part-shade outdoor garden as a ground cover, a beautiful addition with its colorful pink and green leaves and more than doubling in size. It’s a warm tropical that’s usually grown as a houseplant, so I brought it indoors for the winter and put it under an LED light in my office. It never fades like a leaf. After all danger of frost passed I replanted it in the garden and it grew.
Many indoor plants go dormant in winter, and should not be fertilized from August to March.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and freelance writer for Metro Detroit. Her column appears Friday in Homestyle. To ask her a question, go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.