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5 Easy Ways To Help Your Houseplants Thrive

Joshua Kenney
Flickr - Creative Commons

Do your houseplants thrive in the summer, but then droop in the fall? Find out why and what you can do to help.

1. Find More Light

Leaf drop on houseplants has a couple different causes. The most frequent cause is lack of light. Days are shorter. There are just fewer hours of sunlight for houseplants. Very few windows let in enough light for plants, unless you have a sun-room. We have bright morning or afternoon sun spots, but no all day sunny spot. Plants lose leaves to make up for the lack of light.

"Don't take off more than a third of the plant mass."

2. Mind the Draft

Drafts are another cause of leaf drop. Cool air blasting in on a plant when a door opens. Heater vents shooting warm air on a plant. Both extremes shock plants and their response is to shed leaves. If possible, move plants away from drafty areas.

3. Get Out the Scissors

Thinning houseplants this time of year may help them through their leaf loss. Thinning is a way to speed up leaf loss. Prune to shape the plant. Take out any weak branches. But don’t take off more than a third of the plant mass.

4. Get Rid of Unwanted Guests

When plants come inside for the winter we check them for bugs. We usually miss at least one plant with aphids. These plants get a good shower to wash off the bugs. Depending on the plant we may spray with an insecticidal soap mix. But test a leaf or two on each plant. Not every plant likes soap sprays. If the bugs are bad enough we may sacrifice the plant (and the bugs) to the freezing outside temperatures. 

5. Mix It Up

Houseplants thrive in groups. Mixing different plants together adds texture and color to a room. In our house it also assures they’ll all get watered. For us it’s easier to water a collection of plants than to wander around the house watering this one and then that.             

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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