How are your houseplants doing? Plants that thrived through spring and summer next to the front door or a window may be showing signs of stress due to exposure to the freezing temperatures we’ve experienced lately. This is a good time to take inventory on your indoor garden.
Plants exposed to excessive chilling may begin to show leaf spots or blemishes. Most houseplants prefer temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees F due to their tropical nature. Plants brought in to overwinter from outdoors may tolerate lower temperatures in moderation.
Remember to follow recommendations when watering. Overwatering houseplants is a common cause of death. Soil should be allowed to dry slightly between watering. Soil that begins to shrink away from the container is too dry. Remove the plant from the container and soak it in water to allow it to retain moisture again.
If water drips out of the soil when you squeeze it, this is too wet. Experienced gardeners can sometimes determine when water is needed based on the weight of the plant. Familiarize yourself with these differences by lifting the container when the plant is dry and again after watering. When watering, add enough so water drains through the holes in the bottom of the container. Dump the water collected in the saucer.
Observe the plant stems and look for signs of elongation including excessively long petioles (stem attaching leaf to plant) and internodes (section of stem between leaves). Notice yellowing leaves and unexpected leaf drop. Each of these conditions are symptoms of inadequate light. If possible, move plants closer to a natural light source or use grow lights to provide supplemental lighting.
Regularly monitor houseplants for diseases and pests. Some symptoms of this include a sticky substance on the leaves; small brown/white/green spots (pests) on the leaves, yellowing leaves sometimes with tiny speckles and webbing on leaves. Also maintain healthy roots by ensuring the plants are not outgrowing their containers and the soil is draining well.
Cynthia Domenghini, Extension Agent