The weather is glorious and the sun is shining but how are your houseplants feeling about all this? Have they started to crisp up, drop leaves or look a little upset? The first thing you’ll need to consider is where your plant is from, so get Googling! If your plants are native to the rainforest, they’re going to experience the change in heat very different from a cactus, used to baking on a South African plain – so that’s the first step of keeping your houseplant happy.
1. Increase Humidity
If you’ve got a tropical plant (monsteras, calatheas, fittonias, ferns) they will start struggling in a dry heat as they thrive in the ultra humid rainforest.
There are all sorts of gadgets you can buy for increasing humidity but as our heatwaves in the UK don’t last that long, I’ve got a few free and easy ideas for you. Move your plants together in clusters as this helps to improve humidity between them. A tray of pebbles (from the beach, your garden, the park – just give them a good rinse) filled with water is such a great way to promote humidity. You can pop the tray near your cluster of plants or put your humidity loving plant on top to give them a boost.
2. Manage Light
Those that grow on the rainforest floor such as ferns also have a lot of light blocked from the canopy so keep them in a shady spot away from direct light to mimic their growing conditions.
Even plants that traditionally love the sun such as cacti and succulents can overdo it on a hot, south facing window all day so consider moving them back a little to bask in a little more filtered sunshine. You may have the window open too which can cause draughts and upset plants like these so a temporary new home is best for them.
Plants do get sunburn. I’ve found it particularly with the darkest green leaves, as they’re not so used to the sunlight. You’ll find that some of the leaves that have caught the sun look ‘bleached’ with no colour or a sort of light brown/yellow colour. Keep these darker green pals out of the sunlight to avoid. If it happens, don’t chop off just yet (see point 4) but wait until it cools down to chop off any burned bits or sad leaves.
3. When to Water
The same goes for outdoor plants but don’t water in middle of a hot day as the water will evaporate too quickly and it can shock the plant. Water in the morning or in the evening when things are a little cooler. A little misting will also be appreciated from your humidity loving tropical plants.
Your main focus should be watering the soil though. If you’ve ever watered a super dry plant you’ll notice the water goes straight through and out of the bottom, barely touching the plant. If this happens, keep your plant in a bowl/sink/bath for about 10-15mins to let it soak up the water slowly.
Ensure you pour away any excess in the tray/pot as very few plants like to be sitting in water, this can lead to root rot.
4. No haircuts or house moves
Your plant is in ‘summer survival mode’ with all it’s energy being focussed on getting and holding onto, enough water – just like it would in it’s native home. This is not the time to repot or prune your plant. All of these things cause stress to the plant, usually it’s fine in isolation but add these things to the stress of a heatwave and you’ve got a plant who might give up on you.
5. Don’t feed your plant
This may sound counter-intuitive as you’ll know it’s best to feed plants during their growing season, which is usually summer. A heatwave is different though, as I mentioned, their energy is focussed on survival and sourcing water, a huge deluge of nutrients is actually not what they’re expecting or prepared for so wait until it cools down to give them a good feed.
6. Watch out for signs of plant stress
In any extreme weather or treatment, plants can respond in different ways. You may lose some leaves, some dark green leaves turn paler and and your plant may stop flowering as it focuses on surviving. Keep a close eye on your new plant friend and watch how it behaves. Give it a good watering, bright, indirect light and it should be back to normal once things cool down a little.
By grouping plants you can improve humidity