Kenna writes about the care of plants, both indoors and out. She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.
How to Keep Your Indoor Plants Healthy
Plants need to be watered more during the growing seasons, which are spring and summer. But don’t assume your indoor plants need more water just because it is summer. Keeping your indoor plants healthy in an air-conditioned house means they may need less water than you would think.
I examine my plants every three to four days at the beginning of any seasonal change. Your water awareness will gradually grow as the new season changes.
Indoor Plants Like Drying Out
Knowing when your indoor plants need water during the seasonal changes is an ability to sense moisture with your index finger. The majority of the indoor plants live better if you allow them to dry out on the top layer of the soil, half to one inch deep. You stick your finger about a half to one inch deep into the potting mix. If your finger is moist from the soil, the plant is doing great, and there is no need to water it. If the plant is thirsty for more water, your finger ends up dry. You then proceed in watering your plant.
There are exceptions to the rule where a few indoor plants like to go arid dry or stay soggy wet. It is best to keep to the finger-test standard for the majority of indoor plants. If the plant needs more water, proceed in watering your plant. If it is moist to the touch, you reexamine the plant in a couple of days.
Soon, you are aware of your plants' watering habits, and you know when they are thirsty for water. But still, check the moisture before each watering.
“I saw that animals were important. I saw that plants were even more important. I was also to learn that compared to many of the other species, we weren't important at all except for the damage we do. We do not rule the natural world, despite our conspicuous position in it. On the contrary, it is our lifeline, and we do well to try to understand its rules.”
— Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Just like humans, indoor plants get sunburned. Bright hot sun on an indoor plant will surely scorch the foliage leaves.
If you clean your indoor plant or repot them outdoors, you do it during the cooler times of the day and in the shade. Your indoor plants must avoid direct sunlight.
Imagine losing a beautiful dracaena because you were repotting at 10:30 in the morning when the sun was too hot (even in the shade), and the dear plant perishes a week later.
Both Short and Tall Indoor Plants
During warmer weather, the sun tends to have an insidious effect on indoor plants. Even if the plants are in the sun for a few minutes, the sunburn spots appear on the surface hours later. By then, it is too late. The plants are damaged, and there is nothing you can do but give them kind words of apology.
Heat can have a debilitating effect on short and tall indoor plants when sudden changes in the weather occur. During the spring, pay attention to the fluctuating weather, and use the thermostat so you can maintain an even temperature indoors.
Glass windows can magnify heat, and as the days become longer, the sun gets closer to the planet in your region. It would help if you moved your plants away from the windows, ensuring they will not get sunburned and overheated.
Indoor Plant Care
If you are going away for more than a day, don’t overlook the care of your indoor plants. It is best to set your thermostat at 70 – 75 to avoid an unexpected or sudden rise in temperature. A sudden temperature change can adversely affect plants indoors or outdoors.
Helpful Summer Care Tips
We have hit the century mark. Summer is here, and the season is changing. You must be aware of how the heat affects your plants. Here are some helpful tips that I use to keep my plants happy.
- Indoor plants are thirsty need more water during the growing seasons, spring and summer. In air-conditioned spaces, you may need less water.
- Keep your plants away from air-conditioning vents. Cold, dry air continually blowing on a plant is not suitable for the plant. Swamp coolers provide humidity.
- Just like people, plants get sunburned. If you clean your indoor plant or repot them outdoors, you do it during the cooler times of the day and in the shade.
- Glass windows magnify the heat. Don't forget to move your plants away from the windows.
- Cut some of your plants' branches or vines back to promote branching out in multiples. Then, they can stay bushier in the next seasons.
- If you are going away for more than a day, avoid an unexpected outcome of a sudden temperature change. Set your thermostat at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the above information in mind, you can enjoy having the best indoor plants with the treasures of healthy growth. You can even cut back some of your plants’ branches or vines. That way, they will stay bushier in the remaining seasons.
- Utah State University Extension Horticulture Assistant
Plants need extra care during the hot summer months.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My family and I are going on vacation for a week. It gets pretty hot in central California. I would like to leave the A/C off. Will leaving the A/C off harm my Kentia Palm?
Answer: Kentia palms make great houseplants. They are majestic and add beauty to any home. From your question, it sounds like your palm is used to having the A/C on in your home. I would maintain that while on your week vacation. You can set the temperature about 3 - 5 degrees warmer than what is usual for your home. If you normally keep your home at 77 - 79 degrees then set your thermostat to 80 - 84 degrees. I would invest in a self-watering system, but start the self-watering system a week or two before you leave to make sure the plant is acclimated to the new watering system.
© 2018 Kenna McHugh
Zia Uddin from UK on November 21, 2018:
KM - We have aloe vera plants, the mint plant (mentha), lavender and also the Naga chilly plant if you're familiar with it.
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on November 21, 2018:
Zia, Thank you for the encouraging comments. I am sure your plants have forgiven you. : ) You're welcome. I am happy to help. Though, I am curious as to what kind of indoor plants you have in your home.
Zia Uddin from UK on November 20, 2018:
Love this hub, will come in handy for me. I guess i owe my plants an apology for leaving it next to the window where the sun shines through the most. Thanks again.