PORTLAND, Ore. — With colder temperatures arriving in the Portland area, many may be wondering how to care for their houseplants living in the Pacific Northwest. KGW spoke to local experts with green thumbs to find out tips and best practices for nourishing and preserving houseplants during the winter months.
From adjusting your watering schedules to understanding how to give them sunlight, these tips and suggestions will confidently extend the life of your plant babies.
To water or not to water
With temperatures dropping and days becoming shorter, plants commonly enter a period of dormancy — a time where plants stop growing.
"Most of the common houseplants won't, but some will," said Ana Kilbourne, a team member at Reclamation in North Portland. "If they do, it's important to recognize that your plant is not dead, it's just dormant, it still needs water, just not as much and that it will regrow in the spring."
Over watering is a common mistake new plant owners do, especially during the winter time. With temperatures not as warm, plants will not be parched and won't consume the water fast enough.
"Specifically with tropical plants, you want to make sure that you're going a little bit longer in between waterings," said Tylor Rogers owner of Arium Botanicals in Northeast Portland.
Rogers suggests that people with a once-a-week water routine, consider pushing back to every 10 days or so, to ensure that plants won't be sitting waterlogged.
Let them sunbathe
With minimal sunlight during the winter months in the PNW, it is important to ensure that your plants are maximizing their sunlight intake to sustain themselves.
"Doing a little bit of a reshuffle during winter time is great," said Rogers.
He suggests to move things around in your home and place plants near sealed windows with no drafts.
"You also want to make sure that they're not pressed right up against the window, because they can freeze," said Kilbourne.
She suggests getting grow lights to supplement that light your plants need.
Be vigilant with heat
With cooler days comes the need of heating sources. Heaters, fireplaces and radiators are all great to keep you warm during the winter time, but they can be bad for your plants.
Heating sources will pull the humidity out of the air, according to Rogers.
"Basically, keeping plants away from any heat source is going to make sure that you don't have kind of crisping edges, burnt leaves or kind of like yellowing around the edges there," Rogers said.
There is no denying that houseplants made a major comeback during the 2020 pandemic. But they've had more than a moment since the 1960's.
Whether they were hanging from macrame or in wicker baskets on a rust-colored shag carpet, they were an easy way to decorate.
"I think plants can have a really positive effect in a home, whether that be for design purposes [or] for your well being as well," said Rogers. "Plants really do bring so much in life to a space. And so it's really fun to see kind of the multitudes that plants can bring to to a living space home and apartment."
He suggests anyone considering a houseplant to start with one of these options:
- Bird of paradise flower
- Ficus elastica (Rubber fig)
- Any and all jungle cacti