It’s that time of the year when days get longer and the heat goes up. As the seasons change, so do your plants’ care needs. Summer can be a tough time for indoor plants if they don’t get the proper care.
While some sun-loving indoor succulents such as cacti and aloe vera are well adapted to high temperatures and can manage the summer heat, leafy plants like mini monstera, polka dot begonia, or prayer plants are prone to heat damage on high-temperature summer days. More light means more photosynthesis, and this requires more water. There is also the rapid loss of water from leaf surfaces, stems, and the soil surface due to summer heat.
It’s not just water and sunlight that indoor plants need, but also the optimum amount of both and the surrounding conditions that play a part in their growth.
Here are some tips to help you keep your indoor plants well and thriving this summer.
Shade sensitive plants:
The long summer days mean more hours of stronger light. Plants can get sunburn too, so move your plants away from sun-filled windows during hot days to spare them from the direct rays of the sun or put a sheer curtain in between them and the windows.
Water plants well:
The summer heat will evaporate water faster than normal. Soil dries out quicker in summer, and plants will need to be watered more frequently. Give your plants more deep-watering. Make sure the water is actually absorbed by watering slowly and allowing the plant to soak up excess water.
Keep humidity high:
Plants that like high humidity such as fittonia, calathea, and most ferns should be frequently misted through periods of heat. You can also fill a shallow dish with pebbles, fill with water, and set the plant pot on top to create a humid microclimate for your plants that will provide humidity and help them to survive the summer.
Put away the fertiliser:
The best time to fertilise indoor plants is in the spring and summer when they do most of their growing, but if there’s a summer heatwave, plants go into survival mode, and all their energy goes into coping with the high temperature instead of taking in nutrients. So, wait until the heatwave ends before fertilising them again.
Keep plants cool:
Plants are just like people – they like fresh air in the summer. Keep your plants out of the hottest spots in your home. Provide them with a breeze by opening windows during the cooler times of the day. But don’t put your plants in front of the air-conditioner. They won’t survive the cold air hitting directly onto their leaves, even if they will struggle even more in a hot and muggy room.
Avoid re-potting in hot weather:
During a summer heatwave, plants need all the energy they can get. Re-potting on hot days will cause unneeded stress to the root system, and leaves always get damaged during re-potting. So, wait until the days are a little cooler.
Being ready to catch problems early is the key to stopping them before they take hold and ravage your indoor plants. Common signs of plant stress to keep in mind include wilted leaves, pale, yellow, or brown leaves, rough brown patches, and flowers or leaves dropping off.
Avoid significant pruning:
Like repotting, plants need pruning from time to time to promote new growth and promote a healthier shape. But it is also stressful. So, wait until the temperature drops a little before you do any snipping.
Move plants outdoors:
If you plan to move your plants outside for the summer, make sure the move is gradual and the temperature is convenient. Start by placing them in the shadiest place you can find, then gradually move them to a spot with some more light, but avoid direct sunlight.
Keep plants clean:
High temperatures can cause weak growth and less resistance to pests. Clean up any yellowing or dying leaves and flowers. Leaves piling up on soil make a perfect home for pests, especially gnats.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.