How To Successfully Transition Your Plants From Winter To Spring
The annual thaw out from winter to spring is always a welcomed one. Trading in the cold weather doldrums for longer days and rising temperatures is the gleeful hope that keeps us trucking through winter. While the volatile rise and fall of the thermostat during first weeks of spring can be a problematic shift for our skin and body care regimen, not to mention the stress of getting dressed in the morning for whatever mother nature sends our way. April, a notoriously fickle and precipitous month, can be the toughest of them all. Not surprisingly, this transition can be equally stressful on your houseplants that once learned to thrive in the blustery days of winter and are now facing longer, warmer days ahead.
In need of assistance to help our beloved houseplants better weather the transition, we turned to NYC-based plant boutique, The Sill. Since opening its doors in 2013, The Sill—armed with its slogan "Plants Make People Happy" and a whimsically lush Instagram account—has become the go-to shop for beautiful plants, chic pots, and easy-to-understand care tips. Below, Christopher Satch, the Sill’s inhouse plant scientist, shares four time-tested tips to ensure houseplants thrive year round.
Avoid indoor heat waves and chill fests
Satch suggests that you safeguard your plants from fluctuating indoor temps as much as possible. "Oftentimes, radiators are boxed in and people use it as an extra shelf and will put a plant or two on it," says Satch. "Then the temperature drops at night, the heat kicks on, and all of a sudden you have a couple of dead plants on your hands in the morning. That's happened to me a couple of times. It can be tricky." With spring’s balmy highs and frigid lows, adjusting the thermostat and repositioning their location can possibly keep your plant from getting fried.
"On the flip side, don’t blast your air conditioning in the direct line of your houseplant," says Satch. "Move plants away from cooling devices that create fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels. Most houseplants are tropical natives and prefer a warmer, more humid climate—preferably between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit." Air conditioners, great for people, not so great for plants.
Keep it moist, when needed
It’s important to try to recreate your plant’s ideal environment year-round. "There are some plants that won't care about the humidity," says Satch. "Namely, cacti, succulents, hoya, ZZ, eternity plants. A lot of the really thick fleshy waxy ones, generally will not care and can handle low humidity. Certain plants will be really sensitive to humidity like ferns, air plants, plants with really thin leaves, really young plants like terrarium plants are very sensitive to humidity. By placing them near a humidifier or in your bathroom when it gets steamy during your shower, you’ll get them back into the moist humid environment that they love."
Adjust your watering schedule accordingly
Just like the seasons, the watering needs of your plant changes. Knowing when to give your plant some extra juice during spring’s transition is super crucial. "The way plants work is that you water the soil, sunlight hits the plant, and then the sunlight pulls the water through the plant," says Satch. "In the winter, there's not as much light, so the plant won't need as much water. And also, during the winter plants go through dormant phase where as during the summer, they grow. They won't really die but they won't really grow either. They just sort of stay the same and are gathering energy and resting before the start of the next round of growth in spring and summer. You should gradually increase the amount of water that you give your plants as the days get longer. The general rule is if you can stick your finger down an inch or more into the soil and it's still dry, you should water it. Plants usually fare better when under-watered versus being over-watered, so make sure to monitor the plant’s progress as you slowly up its water intake."
If your transition strategy flops, don’t stress just prune
Say you screwed up and didn't quite help your plant transition to the colder months, drier air and shorter days. And they're some damage to their leaves, you should give your plant a little spring trim. "You generally want to get rid of the yellowing and dead pieces," says Satch. "Not only does it not look good, but dead things always rot. So you don't want that rotting smell and you don't want fungi to start growing in."