As you gear up to enjoy the summer, don’t forget about your houseplants! Indoor plants bring a welcome touch of the outdoors year-round, but their care requirements change with the seasons. Follow these expert tips to keep them thriving through the warmer days to come.
Keep Them Happy and Hydrated
Houseplants may require more frequent watering in the summer months, as the heat causes moisture to evaporate more quickly, and plants go into their growing phase. Succulents are the exception, as they can go long periods of time without water and prefer a drier environment.
“Water your houseplants in the morning, as this will help them soak up the water easily and rapidly,” advises Arthur Reeves, founder of Garden Troop. “Doing it later than 9 a.m. will cause more water to evaporate due to wind or heat.”
Still, be sure to not overdo it. Overwatering your plants “can lead to root rot, fungus gnats, and fungal infections, which can be difficult to treat and prevent in warm, humid conditions,” says Nga Ngo, marketing assistant for online shop and subscription service Succulents Box.
Toby Campion, plant enthusiast and managing director of Exubia, recommends the “finger dip test”: Dip your index finger about an inch into the soil, and if it comes out dry, your plants need more water. If it’s moist, you can leave it for another day.
Bring on the Sunbathing—but Don’t Let Them Burn
Some houseplants, like succulents and tropical species, enjoy being under full sun, so moving them closer to a window can be beneficial. However, many plants can quickly become dehydrated and suffer leaf scorching, so be sure to check on your specific plant’s light requirements and adjust accordingly.
“For summer-blooming houseplants and succulents, exposure to sunlight encourages flowering and enhances a plant’s unique colors,” says Ngo. “But we recommend keeping direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon, at a minimum, as most succulents have delicate leaves that can burn.”
“Summer is an ideal time to move your tropical houseplants outdoors, as they can benefit from fresh air,” says Susan Brandt, co-founder of Blooming Secrets. Just don’t forget to bring them in before a storm!
Go Easy on the Fertilizer
Most houseplants don’t need much fertilizer, but an occasional dose can be beneficial. Reeves recommends a liquid fertilizer “as it can provide nutrients to your soil that will be absorbed by your plants right away. Always water your soil after applying, as this will soften the soil and make it easier for the fertilizer to be incorporated.”
During heatwaves, however, applying fertilizer could harm the plant. Wait for temperatures to ease up before doing so.
Care for the Air
Most houseplants thrive in humid conditions. “If you live in a region with a humid summer climate, there’s usually no need for extra moisture. If not, you should purchase a humidifier,” suggests Bryan McKenzie, co-founder of Bumper Crop Times. “To choose the right one, consider the number of plants and room sizes. If you have a small humidifier, you can create small plant islands around the device.”
Ronnie Collins, botanist and founder of the Electro Garden Tools blog, recommends an optimal combination of a humidifier and an air conditioner “to keep plants cool but humid. However, houseplants should be kept away from direct cold airflow.”
Simply opening windows or doors to improve your home’s air circulation can also make for happier plants—and a happier you, too!
This article was originally published in Radiant Life magazine.