As some of you may know, I have decided to close shop and take a break for the winter. I did this for a couple of reasons, one, I really didn't want to ship plants in the winter and have to deal with the Canadian cold. Secondly, I really wanted to focus on building my business, creating new things, and building a more efficient shop.
This year I am wintering approximately 30 houseplants. This isn't for the faint of heart. Three have died and so it goes. Here are my top tips for taking care of dormant plants and how to keep them healthy while they sleep.
Firstly, it's all about lighting. Living in Canada, the sun will come up just before 8 a.m. and set just after 4 p.m. on our shortest days. That leaves my plants with maybe 6 hours of medium-low light. During the winter months the sun isn't as hot or bright as any other time of year leading to lower light levels, not to mention most days are overcast. I have decided to supplement with a grow light, not like I had much choice in the matter anyhow.
I will keep this light on from 9 a.m. to about 9 p.m. This gives my plants 12 full hours of bright warm light plus whatever light trickles in from my windows. Despite what you might think, plants do still require light while sleeping. It feeds them, recharges them and dries the soil. You will also notice that although dormant, prayer plants will still open and close to the light. My prayer plants have continued to produce new leaves throughout the year, maybe they didn't get the memo.
I will write another post all about lighting as it's such a broad subject and I could really go on and on.
From October to about March, I won't fertilize my plants, at all. While plants are dormant they aren't using nearly as much energy. Thus the fertilizer mostly goes to waste. It is also important to give your house plants a break and allow them to recharge for the next growing season. Not only does it give your plants a rest, but it also gives your wallet a rest. During the growing season, I will fertilize every two weeks, that's a lot of fertilizer.
Lastly, I cut back all of my plants in October and November. This includes shortening your vines, cutting off old-growth and shaping. This will encourage new growth or allow your plant to adjust to its new environment indoors (if it spends the growing season outside). To cut back your plants, start with a sharp, CLEAN pair of snips or scissors. There are many, many videos available on Youtube about pruning your specific plant. Now if you can/want to propagate these cuttings, It may take a little longer for it to produce roots but it will give you more plants.
These are my quick and easy tips for wintering your plants. I will update/add anything I forget. Feel free to drop me a message or send your questions on Instagram (@TheSplitLeafShop).