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February 4, 2013

Caring for houseplants in winter takes some effort

(Continued)

“People might be alarmed if the Christmas cactus they received looks withered or its flowers start falling off,” Wallace said. “Plants have a cycle where they will have a period of time that they’re not growing vigorously. Don’t give up on it.”

Plants should be placed in areas where there are not a lot of fluctuations in temperature, she added. If a plant is near a door and is blasted by cold air when the door is opened or is near a vent where it is hit by warm air, the plant will not respond well.

OVER-WATERING

Since plants are not actively growing during the winter, they do not need as much water. However, heated homes also pull down the humidity, so a plant does need to be watered, but that can also lead to another problem: over-watering a plant.

“If the roots get too wet, they will rot,” said Rodgers, who suggested placing a potted plant onto a dish filled with pebbles and then putting water into the dish rather than the pot. The plant’s roots will soak up the water it needs in about a half an hour, she said.

“The biggest downfall for houseplants is over-watering,” Wallace added. “All year long, it’s the No. 1 killer of houseplants.”

Plant owners can typically tell if a plant has enough water simply by picking up the pot. If it’s extremely light, it probably needs water, but if it is heavy, it may have too much water.

Another tip is to insert a finger into the soil, which should feel damp but not saturated about an inch down.

Plant owners should not water a plant based on whether its leaves are wilting.

“When a plant is dry, it wilts; when a plant is over-watered, it wilts,” Rodgers said.

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