ST. CLOUD — Our cold winter snap hit us a couple of weeks later than usual, but none the less it is here. While hunkering down to avoid the cold, perhaps you’ve been paying more attention to your house plants and noticing a few things that need your attention. Let’s discuss how to properly care for your houseplants and the environment in which they are growing.

Sunlight, water, and nutrients are three major factors that contribute to the overall health of your house plants. If any one of these three factors is off your house plants will have a hard time dealing with pests and diseases.

When you are choosing a house plant you want one that thrives in growing conditions that match your home’s environment. Consider the average temperature, humidity, and light availability. If you continually struggle with house plants these could be contributing factors. Make sure that your plants are near a window that gets plenty of sunlight. South facing windows tend to be best. When placing near the window that you have determined to be best in your home, make sure the plant is not too close to the cold glass. During winter months, homes are generally drier which can lead to your plant needing to be water more often than during other times of the year.

In order to properly water your plants, you need to start with understanding how much water they need. Each type of plant is a little bit different. Some may require watering throughout the week while others prefer a drier climate and will require minimal watering. When watering be sure to water at the base of the plant and avoid getting water on the leaves. It is important that you are not letting plants sit in water. Pots should have enough drainage holes that the roots are not continuously in saturated soil. Once the plant is done draining you should empty any excess water out of the saucer. Plants that sit in water will be at risk for root rot and more susceptible to fungus gnats and other pests.

Finally, nutrients in the form of fertilizer. It is recommended that you use a basic house plant fertilizer at half the recommended rate during the winter months. For best results fertilize when the plant is actively growing.

For more information on this topic you can visit www.extension.umn.edu or call your local Extension Educator. Stearns, Benton and Morrison County residents can call (320) 255-6169 extension 1 or email wins0115@umn.edu

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