When the days get longer and the weather gets warmer I guess we tend to think about our indoor plants less. Our attention naturally turns to getting outside, in our gardens or visiting parks and the countryside. We may end up neglecting our poor house plants in the summer months. So here’s a few tips to try and make sure they stay happy.
It should be pretty obvious that when we do have warmer weather, the plants may well need more water than usual! If you do increase the watering, keep an eye on how quickly the water is being used by the plant, and don’t rush to water again until you are sure the soil has started to dry out a little. Even in summer most plants don’t like to be left sitting in water for too long. A regular early morning misting can be a lovely treat for certain plants.
I’m often asked if it is a good idea to put plants outside in the summer months, many plant books recommend this, I guess as a kind of ‘plant holiday’. Well, even if you have a good spot, I would hesitate, tempting though it may be, you cannot just leave house plants to fend for themselves outdoors.
Plants in pots will dry out much quicker than plants in the ground, which may have developed deep roots, and we quite often have a week or even two without appreciable rain. On the other hand, if we have several days of heavy rainfall the pots may end up totally waterlogged, especially if the plant has been left inside a decorative pot which doesn’t have any drainage holes.
Your plants may get too much direct sun and the leaves can get burnt. Cats, dogs, foxes and birds, not to mention squirrels have all been known to attack plants. Chewing the leaves, digging out the soil or knocking the pots over is common.
To my mind the biggest reason not to put plants outside in the summer is what gets into the pots. Every time I have tried it I have found all kinds of creepy crawlies emerging when they are brought back indoors, whether it is ants soon after, or flies hatching a couple of weeks later. It is almost impossible to prevent bugs getting into the plant pots in the first place, and again, almost impossible to get rid of them when we bring the plants back indoors.
The other big summer plant question is what to do with your house plants if you are lucky to be going away for a two week holiday! Unquestionably the best solution is to find a friend or family member knowledgeable about plants who can visit once or twice to water them.
There are various devices for watering plants automatically, ranging from the very simple to the expensively complicated. Some of them work, some of them don’t! The simple ones generally cannot take account of changing temperatures, while the expensive ones are, well, expensive.
For a simpler solution I put house plants in a cool shady room while I am away. They can manage without so much light for a couple of weeks and will use less water too. If you have several plants group them closely together to create a micro climate which will help to keep them from drying out. A bath or a shower can work well, but don’t leave your plants sitting in deep water for the whole period.
Image: from The Designs Files | Photo by Sean Fennessy
Hopefully, with a little thought and planning, you will get back to find them all as happy and healthy as when you left, they won’t even have missed you much!
So keep your indoor plants in mind even when you’re out enjoying the sunny weather. They will be happy and healthy, keeping your life green all year if you do.