This time last year, I shared a post about how to get your houseplants ready for Spring + with the changing of the clocks last weekend, it seems a good time to revisit this. This winter was the first full season my plants + I spent in a colder location + as such, this topic seems particularly important right now — I know my houseplants will appreciate some much needed care + attention — it was a long winter! British Summer Time has swiftly brought with it lighter evenings + even though temperatures are still on the cool side, I’ve started to notice a few of my plants waking up from their winter rest, unfurling a new leaf or two in anticipation. There are some that definitely need repotting, most notably my two monstera plants that have roots growing out of their pots! And there are definitely some that look slightly bedraggled + could do with a tidy up. If you need a little bit of direction or encouragement to get prepping your houseplants for Spring, this post is for you! …I’ll admit that putting this updated piece together has also functioned as a personal prompt too — because writing this has helped me to get into ‘growing mode‘ here. Let’s begin…
A few weeks before Spring approaches, I always like to make a note of plant-y jobs that I want to tackle this month. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a big plant collection, so my advice would be to focus on one room at a time or one type of plant at a time (succulents/ foliage plants etc.), which helps to make tending to nearly 200 plants slightly more manageable for me.
In this post I’ll be sharing how I approach Spring here at HOUSEPLANTHOUSE — talking you through the steps of preparing your houseplants for the growing season ahead, which looks a little something like this:
1. PLANT INSPECTION
2. PRUNING + PROPAGATING
7. OUTDOOR SEED SOWING (optional)
1. PLANT INSPECTION
First up, have a good look at your plants in proper light — these lighter-for-longer days make this easier + check for any signs of growth (or dried up leaves), other issues, or possible pests. Winter can take its toll + you might have a few pots that are struggling after too much watering or continuous inadequate light from those dark December days (though grow lights helped me a lot this year).
Next, assess your collection: make a note of anything you observed this winter that made your plant care easier. For me, this was grouping plants with similar needs together + being aware of cold spots from draughty windows + moving plants away from these areas swiftly. My main observation though, was that I was under watering my larger houseplants in the latter stages of winter + overwatering my succulents (note to self: work on this next winter!)
If you moved your plants around over winter to be closer to a window or light source, (or in my case, away from draughty windows!) consider shifting them back to their usual position soon. The incremental increase in light intensity can be too harsh for some of these plants that usually enjoy a more ambient light location + can cause leaf scorch as the growing season ramps up + there’s more light around.
2. PRUNING + PROPAGATING
This is the ideal time to get your scissors out + give your plants a haircut. After winter things can look a little straggly, especially my Scindapsus + string of hearts this year! Some of my spider plant babies have started to dry a little on the stem, so I’m going to root those + pot together to make a fresh new plant. Propagating is one of my favourite houseplant related activities because, it’s a bit of experimentation, it allows you to get you to know your plants better + well, you can make new plants for free. Sounds good, right? If you are new to houseplants + are interested in giving this a go, have a read of ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about houseplant propagation‘.
Another thing to remember is ensuring you sterilise your scissors between pruning + always take extra care after pruning any stems that ooze a sap when cut (Euphorbia for example). I particularly like to pop my cuttings in jars of water + root them to share with friends, to make new plants, or to add back into the existing pots to make a fuller plant. I enjoy looking at water propagations so much — If you have a few dotted around your windowsills, I find they are almost comparable to having multiple jars of cut flowers around + bring life into your space!
One aspect of plant care I genuinely miss over the Winter months is repotting! It’s always best to wait until Spring or Summer to do this so that the plants have a period of active growth ahead — over Winter if the temperatures are cold enough, plant growth will be slow + your houseplants might even be dormant.
Whilst repotting can seem like a laborious task, I always start small + take on the little jobs first. I love repotting but I have to be in the right mood for it + not rush the process. I am tackling a few smaller re-pots + working my way up to dealing with both my monstera plants — they really are not something to do quickly! Don’t re-pot your plants just for the sake of it either — wait until there are roots circling the pot or growing out of the drainage holes. Most plants like being slightly pot bound as it can promote growth. And when you choose a new pot it’s good practice to only go up one size at a time,
Side note, I couldn’t believe the roots growing out of the pot on my little monstera when I moved last year… I’ll insert a photo here!
📍Some HPH repotting tips:
🌱 When I’ve got a big repotting session ahead of me, there are a few things I like to do to prepare…
🌿 Check your supplies — have you got enough potting mix, the right type of support (check heights required beforehand!), a suitable new planter that’s the right size? There’s nothing worse than starting repotting + realising you don’t have everything to hand + it makes the process more stressful!
🧼 Wash your pots! When I’m repotting it’s a bit like plant pot musical chairs + I’ll recycle or swap pots from others I’ve got hanging around. Always clean the pots thoroughly to avoid the risk of contamination, especially if they’ve been stored outside.
🪴If you are a terracotta lover, soak your plant pots over night before using them for repotting!
💦 A day or two before repotting it’s a good idea to water your plants thoroughly to avoid transplant shock + remember to water the plant in after repotting to get it settled into its new home.
📝 I always share my repotting here on HPH in my ‘Repotting diaries’ series if you want to get inspired to do some Spring plant prep — check the repotting tab on my homepage
If you have read my blog or followed my instagram for a while, you’ll know how integral cleaning the foliage of my plants is in my care routine. I’ve always lived in old places near roads, which means things can get quite dusty, which inevitably means the leaves of my houseplants need regular cleaning too. Just spraying water on them won’t solve the problem — a proper shower or physically wiping each leaf with a cloth is sometimes necessary, holding your hand under the leaf – see photo below. The plants I notice need it most are my Ficus — especially my lyrata bambino (baby fiddle leaf fig) as the undulating leaves are a real dust magnet! Cleaning your foliage can be a really rewarding task + is great for pest prevention. See ‘A friendly reminder to clean your leaves’ for more on this.
In terms of watering, the number one rule is always to check before you get your watering can at the ready! You might have noticed in recent weeks that your plants are thirstier than in the depths of winter but as always with seasonal shifts, it pays to take the time to double check — especially if temperatures are still relatively cold (as they are here). As I’ve said in previous posts, be thorough when watering + always remove the cache pot/cover first — you don’t wan’t the pot sitting in water. Take the pot to a bath/shower/sink + don’t flood the pot with lots of water quickly, but water slowly but steadily around the pot until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Giving your plants a good drink in this way is much better than a ‘little + often’ watering regimen, which is a bit of a rookie error — it can result in a weaker plant + an under developed root system, with roots growing close to the surface of the pot, instead of growing down to fill out the planter. It’s much better to use tepid (room temperature) water + not cold as this can shock your plant, so a day or two before watering I like to fill a few watering cans + to allow them to get to room temperature as the water from the tap is very cold here!
After watering, I’ll leave the pots sit for a while before putting them back in their usual spot. This might sound like a laborious task, but I honestly don’t find it to be the case + taking on the task room-by-room (only if the plants need it of course) is an enjoyable down-time for me. I tend to put a group of plants in the bath before watering/showering them all at once so it’s not too time consuming. And moving the plants around in the process is basically a little workout! Here are some of my plants from this weeks cleaning + watering escapades:
The main point to note here if that if you have been repotting, you should wait around 6 weeks until feeding your plants — this gives them time to settle in + acclimatise. Be sure to check your potting mix in case it already includes a slow release fertiliser, you don’t want to be double feeding as this can harm the plant. I have a few different fertilisers but in general a balanced houseplant feed is a good starting point. It’s lovely to see plants respond well to getting the nutrients they need to stay strong + healthy. A healthy plant is more resilient to pests + diseases so I regularly fertilise during Spring + Summer; bi-monthly works for me but I’m not super strict on this. When feeding your plants, it’s best to feed onto damp potting mix to prevent fertiliser burning the roots, so water lightly first. Take the time to check the dilution rates (don’t guess) + as a general rule, I will often dilute my feed at half the recommended rate, just to be on the safe side.
Here’s some of my to do list:
- Repot kitchen monstera + extend coir pole
- Check the roots on big monstera + add additional supports, prune the two dried leaves
- Repot + prop tradescantia tricolour
- Begonia rex needs some attention
- Pot some spider plant babies together to make a new plant
- Selenicereus chrysocardium repot
- Chop + propagate 2x string of hearts
- Aglaonema re-pot + pruning
- Big golden pothos re-pot
- Get larger pot for Ficus lyrata bambino
- Have a look at roots of both Ficus elastica tineke
7. OUTDOOR SEED SOWING
This is an optional extra, but if you have some outside space, you might consider planting some seeds this year. Bulb planting will have already been done — not for me unfortunately as I’m going to be navigating the process of moving again this year I hope — but after moving last year, I picked seeds I could plant straight out to liven up my little garden. I got some beautiful sweet pea seeds from my lovely friend Brad last Christmas (who knows they are my favourite) which I absolutely loved growing last year. I also planted the obligatory sunflowers with other bits + bobs that I had hanging around in my seed stash box, alongside some veg too — plus I also did the annual sorting out of my oxalis corms. as you can see at the bottom of this group of photos:
As well as seeds, I always like to have a little potted herb garden in a couple of planters, so I will be tidying up my pots + adding to that too — I go through a lot of herbs as I love to use them in cooking, so a steady supply of home-grown crop feels like a little luxury I enjoy very much. Here’s a link to the process from last year if you want to have a read.
8. ENJOY IT!
These can be quite relaxing tasks to do if you take it slow + enjoy the time you spend checking over + tending to your plants. I like to put on a good playlist + make a coffee + work through my to-do list. Writing this update has really motivated me to get going with my Spring plant care + if this is on your list of tasks to tackle, I hope it has encouraged you too!
Here are some pins to save or to share with someone who might enjoy it: