Many plants are very sensitive to changes in temperature, so you have to be careful where you place indoor plants.
Question: I brought a number of plants inside for the winter, but they don’t seem to be doing very well. What could I be doing wrong?
Answer: Many plants are very sensitive to changes in temperature, so you have to be careful where you place indoor plants. Are they near a window where there is a draft? Cold air seeping in through old, leaky windows can easily lower the temperature enough to kill many plants. On the other hand, the hot draft from a forced-air heating vent can also cause major problems. Hot air will dry plants out much more quickly than you might imagine. Try to keep your houseplants away from drafts.
Plants that spent a summer outside are used to a lot of light, so moving them indoors can have an adverse effect. Even sunny south-facing windows may not provide enough light in the harsher days of winter, so you might need to use artificial lighting in your plant areas.
How often do you water your indoor plants? Some people swear by a set schedule, but different types of plants may have different needs. Some plants prefer to be kept more on the dry side over the winter while they go through a dormant period. Other plants keep growing so long as they get sufficient water and light, so you must learn the needs of your particular houseplants.
There are watering indicators you can buy that will (supposedly) tell you when a particular plant needs watering, but the best watering indicator I’ve ever found is an index finger poked down into the dirt. If the dirt a couple inches down is fairly dry, then it’s time to water again.
Make sure you water thoroughly, but don’t let your plants roots sit in water. The water should run out of the bottom of the pot so the soil is moistened but not soggy.
Finally, be on the lookout for insects. That poinsettia that looked so great in the grocery store just may come with some uninvited pests. Nurseries will keep vigilant to prevent plant pests from getting into plants, but that isn’t always the case with plants bought in other stores.
Today’s answer is from Sandi Andresen, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener, Winnebago County. Master Gardeners can be contacted weekdays at the University of Illinois Extension office at 815-986-4357.