Spring has sprung! Hear that sound in the distance? That’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons accompanied by people sneezing because of hay fever. It’s beautiful.
With Spring comes harvests, ducklings and flowers. But just because your houseplants are, well, indoors, doesn’t mean that they don’t need extra love and maintenance during this warmer season. While the exact details of what you need to do will depend on what kind of plant you’ve got (cacti have different needs compared to an orchid, for example), these are the kinds of things you should be looking to do in the lead up to Summer.
1.Repot anything that needs it
There are a couple of ways to work out if the time has come to repot your plants, but the main one is to look at the drainage hole and see if any roots are poking out. If they are, then it is time to give it a new home.
Select a new pot that’s the next size up from your old one (usually about 2cm more in diameter), put a little new potting mix at the bottom of the new pot, gently take the plant out of the old pot, tease the roots a little, put the plant in the new pot, put more potting mix in there and water it in.
If you’re repotting a cactus, things change a bit. You need to make sure it’s the warmer part of Spring (so, November/December if you’re in Victoria or Tasmania), because that’s key. And then follow the other steps the same, but do NOT water it in. That way lies rotten limbs, tears, a knife, and a liberal application of cinnamon to the wound.
It’s time to get some appropriate fertiliser for houseplants and follow the instructions on the back of the bag/ jug to apply it correctly. Multi-purpose plant fertiliser will suit most indoor plants, but make sure you’re using the more specific stuff for orchids or cacti.
3. Water them more frequently
The Winter of 2020 has lasted approximately five thousand years. The Ice Age seems short in comparison. The citizens of Narnia know nothing of our suffering. That also means that you might have forgotten what it’s like to be warm, or have your plants be thirsty. Same as you need more water on a hot day, so do these plant children that cannot scream for ice cream. Start giving them a little extra.
4. Clean the leaves
You wouldn’t think that leaves would need cleaning. They’re plants, surely they just need water? But no. Because houseplants don’t get rained on (assuming your roof is functioning correctly), you occasionally need to wipe dust and scale off the leaves so they can still photosynthesise happily. Another option, depending on the plant, is to rinse them in the sink or bath, or take them outside and gently turn the hose on them.
5. Prune them
Pruning encourages new growth and discourages wasted energy. Cut off any dead or dying bits. Snip off any parts that look weak, scraggly, unwell, or ugly. Basically, treat your plant the way a conservative politician wishes they could treat society.
Just make sure you’re using proper, sharp pruning shears or a sharp knife. Clean edges and surgical precision are key.
6. Make sure they’re in the best spot
Maybe you put all your plants in the big, sunny window so they could feel the joy and warmth that we missed in Winter. But not all your plants are going to enjoy that in the harsh Summer.
Now is the time to move the plants that need a little more shade, or to be less warm slowly into other parts of the house. Don’t do it all at once, or you’ll shock the poor things, so make it a gradual move.