‘Subtle changes’ to keep your houseplants healthy in autumn

Houseplants that are 'impossible to kill'

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Water, nutrients, and sunlight are the basics needed for houseplants to thrive, though the “ideal” amount changes throughout the year. In their peak summer growing period, most species need more of everything – but this is not the case as things “start to cool down”, according to a gardening expert. So what exactly do you need to change to meet the needs of your houseplants in autumn?

James Fogle, founder of online gardening centre, The Stem said: “Things start to cool down in autumn, and your plants will notice this drop in temperature.

“It shouldn’t be anything to worry about: just a few subtle changes to your usual plant care routine which means they’ll stay healthy and in tip-top condition.”

Watering and feeding are both priorities on the list, though the first one to tackle is the positioning of your indoor plants.

Follow the light

The fluctuating autumn weather has plenty of advantages for the garden, but it’s not always the case for houseplants.

According to James, the varying temperature can be “demanding” for indoor species as the light angles change “dramatically” each day.

For this reason, it is important to reposition plants to ensure they get the optimum dose of daily sunlight.

This may take a few attempts to get right, though James noted that moving sun-loving varieties closer to larger windows on the sunniest side of the house is a good place to start.

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Reduce watering

As growth slows down, indoor plants need much less water than in summer.

This principle is the same for garden plants too, as the drop in temperature and daylight hours makes it harder for them to absorb moisture.

There is no exact schedule you should follow in autumn, instead, James recommended using the “finger dip test”.

Simply push your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle.

If the soil feels moist, hold-off watering. Dry soil indicates that the plant requires a drink.

Check daily to avoid leaving houseplants in the lurch.

Increase humidity

Dehumidifiers are very useful for drying clothes and preventing household mould in the cooler months, but they have the opposite effect on houseplants.

It is better to increase humidity during autumn to help foliage and flowers stay bright.

James said: “The amount of water in the air drops in autumn and so is less humid. As the majority of houseplants will typically come from tropical areas, they’ll more than likely appreciate the extra humidity.

“Consider moving your plants to a room with more moisture, like a bathroom or kitchen or start to mist your plants.”

If you are short on space, bunching similar plants together is incredibly beneficial to make misting easier and naturally increase humidity.

Invest in new pots

Though it may seem silly to size-up pots as houseplants prepare for dormancy, it is the best time to do it, according to James.

He said: “There’s a strong chance after spring and summer that your plant might be bursting out of its nursery pot following budding growth.”

Autumn should be treated as the last chance to re-pot before spring to give plants the best start.

Peat-free compost and a slightly larger pot are essentials for this task.

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