Picture: Pixabay

It's officially winter in South Africa.

For our houseplants, this time of year can be rough. To avoid losing beloved plants you’ve cared for all year long, that liven up your home and make it beautiful, ensure you consider your plants’ needs.

Follow these winter gardening tips for indoor plants to help them thrive:

More sunlight, please:

Move Plants closer to windows

With the days getting shorter and sunny skies being few and far between, it’s time to move your indoor plants closer to the window to make use of available natural light.

Clean your windows

Dusty rain splattered windows dull light as it enters your home. Clean them well and regularly to help your plants thrive.

Wipe leaves  

If your houseplant has broad leaves, use a damp cloth to carefully wipe the dust that collects on the surface. Use one hand to support the leaves to avoid damaging them.

Brush leaves

For plants with velvety leaves, like African violets, gently brush away dust using a soft-bristle paint brush or soft toothbrush. Maintain gentle pressure and stroke from base to tip to remove the build-up of dirt.

Humidity:

Stay away from drying heat sources

Most plants thrive in high humidity as it helps keep soil moist. During colder months, the air becomes drier, especially when heaters or fireplaces are in use, further reducing the moisture in the air. So, although you may like things super toasty, try moving plants away from these heat sources.

Misting

Use a plant mister to add humidity to the air around your plants. By spritzing leaves, the tiny droplets of water evaporate quickly into the atmosphere around the plant. However, before you attempt this, research, where that particular plant originates from as well as the climate in that region to find, out if they are suited to grow in humid environments. Keep in mind, some plants do not like wet leaves.

Group plants

Arrange plants in groups, so as they transpire (the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems and flowers) moisture will be released into the atmosphere surrounding the plants. Be careful not to overcrowd plants in a manner that prevents them from all getting enough sunlight.

Trim and clean-up leaves:

Tidy them up by getting rid of their dead, brown, or yellowing leaves. If the leaf falls loose easily, remove it by hand. Otherwise, use scissors. Never pull resistant leaves of a plant, and only prune away just the browned leaf tips from plants that were left too dry. The plant will look more natural if you follow the natural contour of the leaves when cutting.