Getting your houseplants ready for Spring
By Dr Laura Jenkins aka @_houseplanthouse
With the changing of the clocks + the brighter evenings a most welcome addition, Spring is officially here. Aside from those extra evening hours to photograph (golden hour is especially lovely right now), my houseplants are also enjoying the additional daylight and waking up from their winter rest.
I’ve noticed a few of my plants unfurling a new leaf or two already and there are some that definitely need repotting (…I’m looking at you monstera with ALL the roots growing out of the pot!). Over the last few weeks I’ve been making a note of planty jobs that I want to tackle this month. I must add that it is easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a big plant collection, so my advice would be to focus on one room at a time, which helps to make tending to nearly 200 plants slightly more manageable for me.
Here’s some of my to do list:
• Repot little monstera + extend coir pole
• Check the roots on big monstera + add additional supports, prune the two dried leaves
• Repot tradescantia tricolour
• Begonia rex needs some attention
• Extend coir pole on Monstera adansonii
• Pot some spider plant babies together to make a new plant
• Selenicereus chrysocardium repot
• Chop + propagate my string of hearts
• Repot Calathea orbifolia
• Pot 2 neon pothos together to create a fuller plant
• Repot manjula pothos
• Sort the mealy bugs out on cactus
• Pot jewel orchids together
• Alocasia rescue!
First up, have a good look at your plants in proper light (these lighter-for-longer days make this easier) and check for any signs of growth (or dried up leaves), other issues, or possible pests. Winter can take its toll and you might have a few pots that are struggling after too much watering or continuous inadequate light from those dark December days (grow lights helped me for sure). Assess your collection: make a note of anything you observed this winter that made your plant care easier. My main observation was that I was under watering my larger houseplants in the latter stages of winter + overwatering my succulents (note to self: work on this next winter!)
Pruning + propagating
This is the ideal time to get your scissors out and give your plants a haircut. After winter things can look a little straggly, especially my scindapsus + string of hearts. Some of my spider plant babies have dried a little on the stem, so I’m going to root those + pot together to make a fresh new plant. Something to remember is to sterilise your scissors frequently and always after pruning any stems that ooze a sap when cut (Euphorbia for example). I particularly like to pop my cuttings in jars of water + root them to share with friends, to make new plants, or to add back into the existing pots to make a fuller plant. I enjoy looking at water propagations so much – If you have a few dotted around your windowsills, I find they are almost comparable to having multiple jars of cut flowers around and bring life into your space!
The main job I’m taking on is repotting – it’s always best to wait until Spring to do this so that the plants have a period of growth ahead of them. I couldn’t believe the roots growing out of the pot on my little monstera – I’ll insert a photo here!
Whilst this can be a laborious task, I always start small and take on the little jobs first. I am working my way up to dealing with both my monstera plants; they really are not something to rush. Don’t repot your plants just for the sake of it either – wait until there are roots circling the pot or growing out of the drainage holes. Most plants like being slightly pot bound as it can promote growth.
The main point to note here if that if you have been repotting, you should wait around 6 weeks until feeding your plants – this gives them time to settle in and acclimatise. Be sure to check your potting mix incase it already includes a slow release fertiliser, you don’t want to be double feeding as this can harm the plant. I have a few different fertilisers but in general a balanced houseplant feed is a good starting point. I have just bought some liquid gold leaf and did my first feed of the season over the weekend and my plants seem to be liking it! It’s lovely to see plants respond well to getting the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy. A healthy plant is more resilient to pests and diseases so I regularly fertilise during Spring and Summer; bi-monthly works for me.
Watering and cleaning
If you have read my blog or followed my insta for a while, you’ll know how integral cleaning the foliage of my plants is in my care routine. My apartment is old and can get quite dusty which inevitably means the leaves of my houseplants need regular cleaning. Just spraying water on them won’t solve the problem – a proper shower or physically wiping each leaf with a cloth is sometimes necessary, holding your hand under the leaf – see photo below. The plants I notice need it most are my ficus – especially my lyrata bambino (baby fiddle leaf fig) as the undulating leaves are a real dust magnet! Cleaning your foliage can be a really rewarding task + is great for pest prevention.
Outdoor seed sowing
This is an optional extra, but if you have some outside space, you might consider planting some seeds this year. Bulb planting will have already been done (not for me this year as I’ve been navigating the process of moving!) but seeds you can plant straight out will be something I’ll be doing. I got some beautiful sweet pea seeds from my lovely friend Brad at Christmas (who knows they are my favourite) which I will be planting in a few weeks when the temperatures warm up. I’ve done the annual sorting out of my oxalis corms (blogpost update coming soon).
I always have a little potted herb garden so I will be adding to that too, I go through a lot of herbs as I love to use them in cooking, so a steady supply of home-grown crop feels like a little luxury I enjoy very much.
These can be quite relaxing tasks to do if you take it slow and enjoy the time you spend checking over and tending to your plants. I like to put on a good playlist, make a coffee and work through my to-do list.