Fall Check-list for Indoor Plants
It's Fall, y'all! Only a few more weeks until the population of Oklahoma stops complaining about how hot it is and transitions to how cold it is...But on a serious note, it's so lovely to walk outside past sunrise without breaking a sweat and suffocating in the 98% humidity. And we aren't the only ones enjoying the reprieve: this is a wonderful time for your indoor plants. We've compiled this check-list for you to make the most of this season with your green babies and get them ready for the chillier months. Enjoy!
1. Prepare to move
If you're anything like me, as soon as warmer temps are here to stay, I move some of my plants outdoors for the summer. This is the time to start thinking about bringing them back inside. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to leave your tropicals outside when the temperature begins regularly dipping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (a few nights here and there probably won't hurt unless you have an especially temperature-sensitive plant like an Aglaonema). Any colder than that and you may start to have some cold damage.
Before moving your plant back indoors, do yourself a favor and hose off the foliage and inspect the growing media and pot for critters. The last thing you want to bring in with your plant is a bunch of spiders or ant colony. If you've had your plant in a very bright spot outside, don't stress it out by immediately putting it in a dark corner of your home. If the lighting conditions are going to be drastically different, slowly acclimate the plant by moving it to a progressively darker spot every few days. Don't freak out if you see some leaf drop or discoloration, but do pay attention if the plant seems severely stressed. We are always available to help you with diagnosing this sort of thing!
2. Take advantage of temperature fluctuations
Allow me to contradict myself... there are certain plants that you DO want to subject to cooler temps. But again, I don't like to make a habit of going below 50 degrees F as a rule. Warm days with cool nights are the exact combo you want when you're trying to induce some flowering. If you have orchids that are between blooms, this is a great time to move them outdoors! I've had some success with this. Another warm day, cool night lover is the succulent. You can get some really vibrant colors popping up from the cool nights - purples, reds, pinks, and maybe even a few blooms. Euphorbia tirucalli (Sticks of Fire) also get their fiery namesake from subjecting them to cooler nights. Give it a try in moderation!
3. Back off on watering
You want to slow your roll watering for the same reason you're cutting off the fertilizer... the growing season is just about over. Your tropicals have been busy busy all spring and summer, and now it's time for them to go dormant. Think of it as hibernation; their growth will slow (both above and below the soil), and they will really be just maintaining. So, since the plant isn't in hyperdrive, it doesn't need extra moisture. Giving your plant too much moisture in the dormant season can actually cause rot and invite pests like fungus gnats. To water in the fall and winter, you'll still want water the same quantity, just let your soil media dry out more between waterings and let your plant tell you when it's ready for a drink! (droopy appearance, leaf curling, wrinkling, leaf drop, etc.)
Time for the last hurrah... the growing season is coming to the end for your tropicals. For the last fertilizing, I usually like to use a formula that has more Potassium than the other nutrients. Potassium can help with the stress associated with temperature changes. The one I've used is the Pro-Tekt formula from Dyna-Gro. This is usually available at the greenhouse for purchase.
5. Create indoor humidity
We're still using the A/C at our house, but we know the heater will probably kick on before the end of the month (yikes!). Hot air is a major culprit for de-humidifying your home. A lot of indoor plants crave at least moderate levels of humidity... so what do you do? Misting has become very popular and catered to consumers (look at all the dainty little misters available!), but the humidity created by misting your plant only lasts as long as that moisture is available... so not super long, unless you're planning on misting 20x a day.
An easy way to create humidity is by grouping plants together, which creates a little bubble of humidity that they can all share. Increase this by taking a shallow dish or saucer and filling it with water and placing it somewhere next to the plant grouping. If you don't want to do groupings, no worries! Stick with the saucer, place a layer of gravel or rocks, put water in the saucer, and place your plant on top of this; the point of the rocks is to keep your plant from absorbing the water. The amount of water you use is personal choice, but remember to change the water every couple of days or make sure it hasn't evaporated. A final way to encourage humidity levels is to put your plants in the bathroom, at least while you shower or bathe. For this to work, you want to have any windows and doors closed so you can trap all the steam. Take a shower or bath and allow your bathroom to fill with steam. You'll get some #selfcare and your plants will thank you.
I hope this check-list was helpful and informative! Once again, Happy Fall and if you have any questions feel free to comment below or call our greenhouse. Thanks for reading!