Houseplants and holidays

Horticulture Hints

When preparing your home for the holiday season, do not forget about your houseplants. In many instances, houseplants may need to be moved to accommodate for that prefect location for the Christmas tree.

When moving a houseplant to another area within the home, make certain that the proper light levels will be provided. Poor sunlight conditions can affect your plants, so make sure when relocating plants to place them in a window with a similar lighting environment. For best results, move plants to a brighter window so they may receive as much sunlight as possible. But remember, if placed too close or touching the window glass, or with cold drafts, plant foliage may experience cold damage.

Humidity this time of year can also be a factor for houseplant health. Dry air created by running a furnace decreases humidity, and can take a toll on houseplants, creating browning of leaf margins and the need for more frequent watering. Try grouping plants together, or place them on a pebble tray filled with water to help increase humidity levels. Make certain water levels are well below bottom of plant pots, as pots left in standing water encourages phytophthora root rot, which can lead to subsequential plant death.

Dust accumulated on houseplant foliage can affect the amount of sunlight a plant receives. Do not use a leaf shine product on your plants, as the oils can plug the stomata, or breathing holes of the plant. Give your plants a lukewarm shower or bath to clean them for best results.

Did you know? Due to reduced day length and amount of sunlight received during winter months, houseplants are not actively growing. Do not to apply fertilizer to houseplants until spring, as with increased sunlight, plants will be able to use the fertilizer as they start actively growing once again.

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Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.

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