Pay attention to light, temperature changes and watering. Nine things to know to better take care of your indoor plants during the winter. And also some ideas from two flower designers to insert new plants in the house.
Leave them alone
The first golden rule in the care of plants is to create a dialogue with them made up of observation and care, but without harassing them. Find the right rhythm and learn to read the signs, without forgetting them.
Sun, sun, sun
light is fundamental for the plant organism. In winter, don't be afraid to move plants near windows and brighter places. Be careful that the leaves do not touch the glass too much - they could be damaged by the cold - and that there are no cold drafts. The use of grow light is also recommended. “For homes that are not very bright and especially during the winter season, we can support our plants with lights that encourage growth” - advises the florist Stefania Tussi.
Too hot, too cold
You may think that the enemy is the cold but, for indoor plants, the problem is more about the right balance between heating and any drastic changes in temperature. Plants and humans require the house to be aired constantly but be careful to leave the plants exposed to cold currents. Observe where you have placed them: it is better that they are not too close to the radiators or to cold drafts.
Another element to evaluate well in your home is the humidity rate. The heaters could dry out the air or there may be conditions of excessive humidity. In both cases, it is better to work to rebalance the situation: place containers with water on the radiators or buy a humidifier, while, in case of excessive humidity, it is better to keep an eye on the waterings and use together with the soil compounds of expanded clay to help drainage. If the house is very dry, moving the plants to the bathroom can also be a solution.
Water. How much to give?
In general, better less than too much. Especially in winter, when the risk of root rot is greater, watering must be made less frequent. To understand when it is the right time to give water there are two simple methods: you can put a finger in the soil and feel if, in depth, it is still damp (and in this case wait) or observe the leaves that, with less water, they tend to be less plump, soft, or fold in on themselves.
Fertilize. Two schools of thought
There are those who say to stop fertilizing in winter, others just to reduce it. Let yourself be guided by the plants themselves, if you see situations of discomfort (excluding diseases such as fungi and parasites that must be treated in every season) you can add a little fertilizer to the watering. But don't be frightened by some yellowing leaves or by the slowness with which your plants will develop: it is still a period of rest.
Better to avoid repotting the plants in the cold season. This is because, having slowed the growth of the plant, giving it too much surface of land without roots risks increasing the risk of excessive humidity and rot. It is not an absolute rule, if the roots of the plant already protrude from the pot, you can repot it but always better get in the habit of checking the state of the roots in autumn or postponing it to spring.
Cuttings not recommended
Producing cuttings in winter is not impossible but much much slower. Better wait for longer and sunny days to indulge yourself in reproducing and exchanging plants.
Study your plants
Advice valid for all seasons: do not be satisfied with reading the labels inserted in the jars upon purchase. Look up the name online or in books to learn more about the plant's behavior. An example above all: do not throw away your Caladium jars. In winter, it completely loses its leaves and keeps the energy in the rhizomes underground; leave it in a shady area and fish it out in spring to see it reappear.
Green tips from the experts
We went to visit Stefania Tussi at Bici&Radici, shop of flowers and bicycles in the heart of Milan's Nolo district, and Maria Bollettini, from the historian Fioraio Bollettini on the threshold of the Giambellino district in Milan. In addition to admiring the wonderful garlands and compositions, we asked you to recommend some indoor plants that best withstand the winter period.
According to Maria Bollettini “it is better to concentrate on leafy plants: the Ardisia with its red berries gives a festive touch to the home and Maranta can cheer you up with its colorful veined leaves. To the more common Dracene and Schefflere is added the very robust Syngonium. Floral exceptions can be the bulbs of Amarillis and Ludisia, with its pearly reflections and delicate blooms".
Stefania Tussi invites you to "be surprised by the varieties of Tradescantia, a very resistant plant with different color notes: purplish, pink, silvery. Another plant that could adorn your kitchens in winter is Oxalis, with its purple and above all edible petals. If left outside the Oxalis will lose its leaves to reappear in spring, if winter is brought indoors in a bright position it continues to maintain its vegetation and, in addition to being very decorative, it can also become an original addition to your salads".