A guide to: summer plant care
Unsure on how best to look after your houseplants during the summer months? Look no further than our heatwave-proof care guide that will help your plants flourish…
With the hottest summer months still ahead of us (hopefully!), now is the time to get your houseplants ready to handle the heat and start implementing a summer plant care plan. Say goodbye to yellowing leaves, drooping stems and sunburnt tips by following our handy guide.
Plants that love humidity – such as ferns, alocasia, aloe’s and air plants – should be misted regularly during the summer months and even more frequently (daily) during a particularly hot spell of weather. Misting plants will provide them with moisture, keep plant leaves dust-free and prevent any form of insect infestation.
How to mist:
- Use tepid water and mist plants in the morning to ensure they have a chance to dry out during the day before the temperature drops overnight.
- Mist the tops of the plant leaves and a little on the undersides of leaves, the aim is to achieve a light dew.
- Mist two-three times a week on average, but top-up during periods of very dry, hot weather.
As a rule, do not mist plants that have fuzzy leaves (such as Feltbush and Peperomia) as this can lead to permanent spotting or staining. Also skip misting plants that don’t require a lot of moisture such as succulents and cacti.
Investing in a plant mister to do the job is a good idea, but you could also recycle an old cleaning spray bottle (as long as its very well rinsed and empty of any chemicals) if you need a quick fix. Another way to increase humidity levels is to introduce a tray of loose pebbles with a small amount of water poured over them, place the plant pot on top making sure no water is touching, and watch your thirsty plants flourish.
Take your time when watering
Proper watering is key to happy, healthy plants. Though over-watering is the easiest way to kill your houseplant, summer heat and sun cause water to evaporate from soil much more quickly than usual. Before watering your plant check the soil for moisture 1-2 inches below the top layer of soil, if it’s dry it’s time to feed.
As tempting as it sometimes is to quickly empty a watering can into dry soil to try and revive your favourite houseplant, you won’t be doing it any favours. Often the top soil gets wet then the rest escapes down the sides and ends up pooled through the bottom on the floor or on the plant dish… it’s happened to us a fair few times!
Taking your time to properly water will mean roots can absorb what they need. Standing your plant in water for 10 minutes after its been soaked through is also a good idea, but remember to remove it after this duration else you could start to cause root rot.
Although many of us won’t be planning our usual holidays abroad this year, it’s a good idea to have a watering plan to ensure your plants can survive without you for a week or so if needed.
- Prepare well by watering all pots thoroughly before you leave will ensure they have enough moisture to last a couple of weeks maximum.
- Bigger plants in large pots should be fine left in shady rooms as long as they are not placed in direct sunlight.
- Smaller, potentially pot bound houseplants that enjoy humidity may be better off left in the bathroom – consider lining the bathtub with a few soaked towels and allowing pots to absorb water as necessary during your holiday period.
- Asking a neighbour or friend to come and water plants during a longer holiday would be advisable to ensure your plants are happy upon your return (if possible).
Summer months are a great time to start feeding plants as they are actively growing and putting out new growth. A liquid concentrate is a good bet and will provide plants with extra nutrients they can utilise to produce lush, healthy leaves. Add liquid fertiliser to water and feed plants during summer every month, or once in every fourth watering.
Fertiliser comes in many forms, from pellets to liquid or mixed with compost, so choose which one is right for your plant. Organic feeds are not only better for the environment – they also encourage soil bacteria, which helps to keep soil healthy.
It is important to remember not to fertilise plants during a heatwave when your plant is in survival mode - as it won’t be looking for extra nutrients. Wait until the weather cools to review your feeding schedule.
Just like humans, plants can get sunburnt too! Though some indoor plants are deemed ‘sun-loving’ and originate from high temperature, sunny climates, plants that are kept inside year-round (including succulents and cacti) are not acclimatised to excessive bright, direct sunlight.
Plants that live in south and west facing windows are especially at risk. It’s best to move sensitive plants further into a room during summer months to protect their leaves from hot, direct sun rays.
Top tip: you can move plants back to their window-side hangouts over autumn and winter where they’ll be glad of the extra dose of vitamin D provided by the weak winter sun.