Houseplant Secrets -
Care and Buying Tips When Temperatures Drop
by Tom Fryd
When the heat of summer finally says goodbye and the temperatures begin to fall, indoor houseplants begin to get noticed again. Hopefully, you have removed any old leaves and cleaned the remaining leaves so they can efficiently pick up all the light available during the winter months.
Some indoor plants like the Chinese evergreen - Aglaonema will do well in the lower winter light while others may not handle the dryness.
As far as indoor houseplant varieties or families go - the Chinese evergreen are hard to beat. They offer unique foliage variegations, generally keep a compact shape and the big plus - they can handle some pretty poor indoor plant conditions.
New Varieties Handle Cold Better
Many of the "old" Aglaonema varieties could not handle any cool or drafty conditions. After a brief exposure to temperatures below 55 degrees, leaves may become discolored and damaged. New varieties on the market with names like - "Silver Bay", "Jewel of India" and "Emerald Stars" (look for these at your garden center) can withstand much lower temperatures and still look great.
When plants become exposed to cold temperatures, the older leaves are usually the first to show the damage. Leaves become spotted and may carry a grayish cast to them or get a greasy look to them. Once the cells collapse in the leaves there is no way to recover the damage. The leaves need to be removed and the plant grown out.
Buying Plants During the Winter
When buying houseplants during the winter months, remember to take note of what a few minutes of brief exposure to cold temperatures can do to indoor houseplants. The damage may not show up right away but after purchasing your new indoor friend, keep an eye out over the next 2-7 days; it may take that long for any damage to be visually noticeable.
Another tip to look out for when buying houseplants. Check out the nursery or garden center facilities. Do they have loading facilities? Can they back a truck up to the greenhouse or loading dock to unload and keep the cold out?
Unloading plants at the curb, just 100 feet from the greenhouse area and exposing them to the outdoor weather elements can cause damage. Your "fresh" houseplant may not be as fresh as you think.
House Plant Location in the Home
Think about the location of where your plant will be sitting in relation to weather outside. Make sure every time you go in or out the door your indoor plants are not getting blasted with cool/cold air. We are not talking only about Aglaonemas... but other popular houseplants like Dracaenas, Ficus, Dieffenbachia and others. Cold damage from cold blasts can effect the plant inside.
Most houseplants don't like big temperature changes; they are sort of like us. Try to keep them from any exposure below 60 degrees, if possible, including cold blasts and your houseplants should do just fine.
Check out the Chinese evergreen at your local garden center for a great indoor houseplant for your home.
About the Author
Tom Fryd reports for www.plant-care.com, learn more Indoor House Plant Secrets and receive a free weekly newsletter on houseplants and care.