Bringing Nature Home

By Amanda Strack, Conservation Garden Park

Winter is here and most of us gardeners have moved our interests from our outdoor gardens to our indoor gardens—house plants. Indoor plants have more than likely been a little neglected during the growing season and need a little extra love now that the weather has changed. Cold weather outside means growing conditions inside are also more unfriendly than usual for our indoor green companions. Heaters are running, which dries out the air and reduces the humidity level, and natural light levels have decreased, which means (artificial?) supplemental light levels have increased. All of these factors create an environment that is difficult for our indoor plants to thrive. Luckily, indoor plants grow slower during the winter, which makes managing the difficulties they face easier.

First off, it is important to put the right plant in the right place. Be sure sun loving plants are near a window, and place low light-level plants in darker areas around the house. If you’re like me, you won’t have enough windows for your sun-loving plants, so make do with wherever you can. Less-than-desirable places will work for your indoor plants, they will just require more attention and you may lose some eventually. Wherever you end up putting them, consider all of the surrounding factors when managing them. Look to see how much light they actually get. Is there a deciduous tree outside that usually blocks the windows but is now letting in more light than the plant is used to? If so, move it to a location that gives it the light it’s accustomed to. Is there a vent close by that could be drying out some plants more quickly? Moving them away from the vent or watering them more frequently will solve the problem. Plants’ surrounding environments will greatly affect the care they need.

Water is the most critical factor to an indoor plant’s health and it is the one element that we have complete control over. The best way to water almost all indoor plants is to let them dry out before you water them again. Remember that roots need air as well as water, so keeping a plant soaked is a sure way to kill it. The greatest way to determine whether or not a plant needs more water is to feel the soil. This can be accomplished by using a soil probe or even something found around the house like a pencil or just sticking your finger into the soil. No matter what method you use, just make sure you are checking. The foliage can also be an indicator that the plant needs more water, but if a plant is exhibiting a wilting look, it doesn’t necessarily mean it needs more water. Wilting can also be an indication that the plant is getting too much water. So regardless of how the foliage looks, always check the soil before you start pouring in the water.

Now that we are spending more time indoors have fun with those plants that bring the outdoor feeling inside. Just remember to choose and place them wisely. And don’t drown them.

Conservation Garden Park is located on the grounds of Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District at 8215 South 1300 West, West Jordan, Utah. For more information visit