Here's What Your Houseplants Need for Spring

©. @irinazharkova / Twenty20

As your indoor plants reawaken from winter dormancy, here’s how to prepare them for their glory days ahead.

Rouse, wiggle, yawn, stretch. I can practically hear my houseplants going through the motions as the days get longer and are filled with increasing sunlight. After an entire winter of being hunkered down, most of them are showing signs of activity, and it’s an exciting indication of what’s to come. Before long, they’re going to be all raucous with new vim and vigor.

In nature, plants work in tandem with the seasons to make sure they are ready to transition to the next one. But indoor plants need an assist from their humans; so here’s what to do to help ensure houseplants are in good shape to ring in the spring.

Clean

Dust tends to build up on houseplants over the winter, which can become an optimal breeding ground for insects and pests, explains Joyce Mast, also known as “Plant Mom” from Bloomscape. Spend some time wiping down leaves with a damp cloth; this TLC time is also a great opportunity to assess each plant’s health.

Trim

Many houseplants will have a bit collateral damage after their winter sleep, so don’t be alarmed by some yellowing or dead leaves. But now we want the plant to be sending all its spring energy to the healthiest leaves, so it’s time to remove the unhealthy parts. Mast recommends trimming and removing any dead or dying leaves from the plant with clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, wiping with rubbing alcohol between each snip.

Relocate

Since the sun enters your home differently throughout the year, it’s good to assess your plants’ light needs and keep tabs on what kind of light they are getting in different seasons. Some may just need a slight shift, while others may prefer a different location all together.

Repot

If you have any plants that have outgrown their pots, spring is the time to repot them since they are about to start running riot. Check to see if there are roots coming out of the drainage holes, or if you can see roots nearing the top of the soil.

Feed

Plant Mom says to feed your plants; she also recommends supplementing with Epsom salts to boost magnesium, as a lack of magnesium often causes yellowing. Here’s her method:

How to fertilize your houseplants

  • Prep the soil: Do not give fertilizer to a plant with dry soil; ensure that the soil is evenly moist by watering until water begins to dribble into the saucer. And as always, be sure to toss any water that is left in the saucer afterwards.
  • Try soak-watering: For plants with soil that is particularly dry prior to fertilizing, try the bottom or soak-watering method. Plug a sink and fill it with two to four inches of water, depending on plant size. Place the plant in the water (without the saucer) and let it pull the water up from the drainage hole. Wait 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top of the soil starts getting moist, then drain the sink and let the plant sit for a little bit before returning it to its saucer.
  • Dilute the fertilizer: Plant Mom generally suggests a liquid fertilizer, which you should dilute with water to half strength (or as directed on the bottle) – over-fertilizing can lead to shock, and nobody wants to shock their plants.
  • Pour evenly: Pour the diluted fertilizing liquid carefully and evenly over the top of the soil until water begins to drip from the drainage hole.

Happy spring!