So, you’ve amassed a wide range of plants throughout the year (props to you!), but now the winter is here and the days are chillier. You might be feeling a little concerned for your newly-acquired plant gang, and be wondering just how to care for them during the winter months.
We had a chat with the Paul Takchi from Exotic Nurseries about some methods of caring for your plants during the winter. Exotic Nurseries is a family owned and operated wholesale nursery that has been supplying plants to architects, designers, property developers, garden centres, landscape contractors and builders since 1983!
Many of us have plants on our balconies or patios that we might be concerned about now that winter is here.
“If your plants are under cover and protected from strong winds it’s okay to let your plants weather the cold of winter where they are,” Paul says.
“It’s important though, that watering is kept to a minimum, letting them dry out completely between moderate watering’s. The rate that they dry out will differ from plant to plant. The rule of thumb is that if you put your index finger in the soil to the second knuckle and your fingertip is dry, it’s safe to top them up.”
But what about those of us with open and exposed patios and balconies?
“If your patio doesn’t have protection, you may wish to bring your more tender plants inside when the night temperatures drop below about 12 degrees,” Exotic Nurseries says.
“They’ll need a sunny or well-lit position away from any heating that may dry out their leaves. If you’re sitting them in saucers, make sure no excess water builds up in them as plants really don’t like cold, wet feet.”
If you’re somebody who loves to collect succulents, then you might be pondering just how to help these desert plants cope during chilly winters.
“In a lot of cases the advice is much the same as above, unless the position gets exceptionally cold,” Paul says.
“It’s especially important with these guys to keep them cool if they’re coming inside. If they’re warm, they might get tricked into thinking it’s time to grow, and in the case of tall cactus such as Cowboys, the growth will be a lot skinnier than normal. This leads to a kind of girdling that will leave the stems uneven and unable to support themselves.”
“If need be, a cool, dark spot such as a garage is fine to keep them in until the weather warms up again. You will need to increase the light to them after their snooze, starting with a couple hours, and adding a couple more every few days.”
What about some general tips for a beginner gardener getting through their first winter?
Paul suggests two key tips to remember: “Don’t feed, and keep watering on a need-to basis – your plants are basically asleep, and much like a big buffet served up while you’re deep in slumber would go to waste, it’s the same for our leafy friends.”
And the second tip: “Keep them away from heaters and dry air. We may love cosying up by the fire or heater on a cold wintery day, but plants are content just to chill. This will keep their leaves lush and in pristine condition.”
Winter doesn’t have to be a bad time for you and your plant gang. With a little care and knowledge, you can protect your plants, and have them happy and healthy as we welcome the springtime.