Like the humans that love them, plants are not always entirely happy during very warm periods. Some want to stretch out, lie back and bathe in the heat from dawn to dusk, while others prefer to find refuge in a shady spot, wear a big hat and keep cool. While we do have this variation in heat & happiness in horticulture, generally, you can do some things which will inevitably be to the benefit of any plant during a particularly warm summer spell.
Water them, but not too much
Watering is probably the first thing that comes to mind for most plant-lovers, and yes, it is unsurprisingly the most important. As we all know, depending on the species, some plants drink a lot of water, and some don’t drink much at all. In fact, many plant-lovers have discovered that watering plants is an art, and this craft must be learned over the first weeks & months of owning a plant. Each plant is slightly different, and each will respond differently to water. Roughly, you will find that the thirstier plants all year round are - yes, you guessed it - going to be the thirstiest during a heatwave, just like humans!
But stop what you’re doing and put that watering can down IMMEDIATELY! Yes, you!
At POTR, we know that a lot of people - us included - have lives that just keep getting busier. Sometimes, unfortunately, that means we can neglect our indoor plants. Yes, this can take the form of underwatering them - that’s why we designed the POTR Pot - but it can also be by overwatering. Overwatering is incredibly common and often leads to the untimely death of many a houseplant - be careful and always check the soil before adding more water. If in doubt, you can apply a rough rule of thumb - the top inch, or 2.5cm, of soil should be dry to the touch before watering, and you should always aim to keep this area moist. This gets more complicated the more you look into it - and we urge all plant-lovers to read up on the amount of watering needed for their specific type of plant - but this rule is a good start. That, and using a POTR Pot! *wink*
A nice living environment
Many budding horticulturalists who purchase plants will find that they often come with a label on the plastic pot which gives some guidance which, although not always clear, provides some information on how much sunlight their plant loves. Plants which like to be in direct sunlight - which you will know by them having a ‘full-sun’ symbol on the label - will generally cope very well with the heat, but just have to be watered enough to keep them happy (see above). You could put these plants in the sunniest part of your home without any issues. Some plants need only partial sunlight - a ‘half-sun’ symbol - which is classed as 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, so watch out! Place these in a spot which only gets a limited amount of sunlight. Finally, if plants have a ‘blacked-out sun’ symbol, they want to be placed in the shade. A little light is still preferable - so don’t put them in a cupboard - but just make sure they are completely out of direct sunlight.
Keep up the moisture
Another thing that plants generally love is humidity. Plants tend to like a lot more humidity than humans do - they often come from the jungle, after all - and it is essential that a humid environment is maintained around them. If you notice your plants are going a little crispy or wilting around the edges, it is likely that they need to be kept more humid. This can be done in a variety of ways - a common one is misting, which is just spraying the leaves with water. Be careful though, as not all plants like this treatment - check first! You can also use a humidifier. I know what you’re thinking, ‘who would ever do that?’ - but your plants will love you for it, as it will help keep them humid without much input needed from you. Finally - consider putting plants in kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms, greenhouses (only joking)…and other humid areas of the home to help them along. We have noticed that a lot of people are moving to new-build flats which are really efficient and ‘breathable’ - but this also tends to make them dry environments, so just watch out with your plants water and moisture levels as they may need more attention and more frequently.
Take care with the air
While many people will make liberal use of air conditioners to cool their homes over the summer, these are actually incredibly bad for houseplants if not used correctly. Have you ever slept in a hotel with air conditioning, or had your a/c unit running all through the night? If you have, you’ll know that this dries everything out - your skin, eyes and throat - because it removes moisture from the air and causes a very dry environment. Above, we talked about how plants love humidity - so now imagine we take it all away from them and for prolonged periods of time. Not good. If using an air conditioner, be careful to ensure that the environment is kept humid enough for your plants to survive.
This also applies to fans. Fans are a lower-cost and easy way to circulate the air in your home, and are great for introducing cool, fresh air if you have your windows open. However, this air circulation will also have a similar effect to the air conditioning described above. Similarly, you don’t want to put your plants directly in the path of air blown from a fan or a/c unit - this will only accelerate the process of drying it out. Be careful!
To round up…
We know that it can be somewhat complicated to know exactly how to take care of your plants. More and more people are procuring many types of plant to liven up their home, and while this is fantastic, the plant-care schedule can get a bit much - especially when your life is busy! Watering, light, humidity, environment…it can all feel daunting if you’ve just made your living room look like a small rainforest. The best way to deal with this is to come up with a simple, hassle-free plant-care plan. This can include more conventional plant-care methods - such as a watering can and a window - or new technologies such as the POTR Pot. However, to help you along, we have some parting tips…
- Don’t overthink things - keep your plant-care plan simple. This will make it easier for you to get into a routine, and reduce workload.
- Group your plants into categories. You will likely have multiple plants of the same type, but possibly in different spots - make sure you know which plants need to be given the same care as others in your home.
- Spend some time getting to know your plants. Different plants will need different treatments, and you should build up a bit of basic knowledge of what each of your plant types will need.
- Establish some general rules of thumb that you will always follow.
- Try to build up a local network of fellow plant-lovers. Neighbours, family members, friends, clubs and societies - this will help you to build your knowledge and confidence, talk to like-minded individuals, secure a group of plant-carers if you are away for the long-term - and most of all, enjoy your plants as much as possible!