Spring has sprung, and now that it’s here, it’s time to revitalize your indoor plants and make the most of the season. This guide will cover all the care your plants need in a helpful checklist style.
To get your indoor plants springtime-ready, water more often, dust the leaves, reassess lighting strength, repot, prune your plants, and fertilize.
There’s much more to do to prep for a bountiful season of growth and blooming. I’ll tell you everything you need to know ahead, so make sure you keep reading!
How to Get Your Plants Ready for Spring – All the Care Indoor Plants Require
1. Water Houseplants More Often
The first order of business is to dust off your watering can, as the arrival of spring means more frequent watering sessions.
The water in your plant’s pot will begin absorbing into the soil faster as the days become longer and sunnier. That will only continue throughout summer, so get into a good watering routine early.
Now, this advice hugely depends on the houseplant in your care. Some plants need consistently moist soil, while others prefer dryer conditions.
I never advise indoor gardeners to water their houseplants on a schedule, per se. Instead, use the fingertip test to gauge the plant’s hydration needs.
When the soil feels somewhat dry but still holds onto moisture, it’s not time to water yet. Rather, you should wait until the soil dries out but doesn’t become bone-dry.
2. Dust and Clean the Leaves
The colorlessness of winter has passed, and now you can see the fine layer of dust that has settled upon nearly everything. That includes your houseplants.
Plants contain stomata or pores across their foliage that are critical for many plant functions.
For instance, a plant takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen using stomata. Houseplants also absorb sunlight for photosynthesis through these pores.
Dust can block stomata, preventing your plant from respirating and photosynthesizing as efficiently as it should.
For a bulk of houseplant genera, springtime is growth time. By dusting off the leaves of your plants, you’ll prepare them to grow.
You have several options for dusting the leaves. You can moisten a microfiber cloth and wipe down the leaves, but I recommend that for strong plants with bigger leaves. Smaller plants with fragile foliage could lose leaves.
You can also dunk your plant in a tub of lukewarm water or spray the plant with a garden hose turned on to an ultra-fine setting.
3. Reassess Light Strength
Your indoor plants need light all year long, but weak and sporadic winter light likely had you reimagining your lighting routine.
You might have moved your plant right beside a window so it could drink in sunlight as time allowed all season.
Now that spring’s here, the days are longer, the temperatures warmer, and the sunlight brighter and hotter. If you keep your indoor plant in the same position by the window it occupied all winter, you will more than likely scorch it.
Here’s what you should do instead.
If you don’t already have a curtain in the window, now is a good time to install one. Reposition the plant further from the window too, especially if we’re talking about a southern or west-facing window.
Those windows produce the best afternoon sun, which is also when the light is harshest. Excessively bright or direct afternoon sun can easily burn the leaves of indoor plants not originally from sunny environments.
Again, you have to use your discretion here. For example, if growing succulents like cacti, most can handle stronger sunlight.
On the other hand, an indoor plant genus like ferns is very sensitive to too much light, as their fragile foliage can easily scorch.
If you think your fern is turning brown or possibly scorched from excessive heat or light I recommend reading my article on that exact plant issue, Most Likely Causes Your Fern is Turning Brown and Crispy.
4. Repot the Plants That Need It
Spring is also an excellent time to assess whether it’s time to repot your houseplants.
How do you know when it’s time to repot your houseplants?
I suggest looking for roots emerging from drainage holes at the bottom of the container. When the roots have outgrown their container there’s no question or debate about whether or not the plant is ready for a new container.
Many plants benefit from annual repotting, while others can wait anywhere from two to five years. Use the above symptoms as your indicator of whether it’s time.
Leaving a plant in the same pot for too long makes it top-heavy. Your poor plant could start this bountiful season by tipping over!
More severely, plants that spend too long in the same pot can become rootbound. The roots will encircle the pot, latching onto the sides. Sometimes, the roots can grow out of control and begin choking themselves off.
To repot your indoor plant:
- Remove the plant from its current pot. This is usually a one-person job but can require a second person for an especially large plant or if your houseplant is rootbound.
- Remove surface dirt to assess the root system. Prune slick, darkened roots, as they’re dying or already dead.
- Prepare a fresh pot with your plant’s favorite potting soil or mix.
- Dig out a depression in the soil for your plant to go.
- Place your plant in its new pot, burying soil around its base to stabilize it.
- Moisten the soil.
5. Prune Leggy, Dead Plant Parts
Some indoor plants enter a state of dormancy in the winter while others continue to grow, albeit slowly.
The spring is when growth will really ramp up. To ready your plants for that, you need to prune them.
A plant only has so much energy it can allocate to various tasks. When it has to carry the extra baggage that is leggy, dead growth, it has less energy to go around since the plant uses its energy to support itself.
If you skip the pruning, your plant may grow slowly this spring since it doesn’t have enough energy.
The rule of thumb is to remove no more than a quarter of a plant’s foliage.
This will free up enough dead leaves that the plant can dedicate itself to growing more but not remove so much foliage that your plant looks naked.
Where do you start when pruning? First, look for anything that’s dead or dying, so yellow or brown leaves or stems.
Remember, once a plant exhibits discoloration, it will never go back to its original hue, so there’s no sense in keeping any yellow foliage or stems.
You should also deadhead as appropriate, which refers to removing spent or dead flowers from your indoor plant. You can also detach individual petals, a more precise means of deadheading.
Next, it’s time to look for leggy growth.
A plant can become leggy if it’s not receiving enough sunlight, a common condition found in plants after an especially dark Winter without any grow lights to help compensate for the lack of natural sunlight.
Leggy growth is long but spindly and doesn’t feature many stems or foliage. Removing this growth will improve the look of your plant.
6. Fertilize Indoor Plants
Another task that you can forego for most indoor plants during winter is fertilizing. Since the plants aren’t actively growing, there’s no sense in fertilizing them.
With the active growing season officially underway, that all changes. You want to find your fertilizing rhythm, as you’ll keep it up through at least the summer and possibly into the fall.
You don’t have to jump full-throttle back into fertilization. Your plants have just exited dormancy, so too much fertilizer all at once could prove excessive and be too much of a shock to their root system.
I always recommend using a little less fertilizer than usual for the first dose or two or diluting the fertilizer with more water.
From there, follow the instructions on the fertilizer you bought for your plant and apply it consistently. It’s safe to fertilize about every month, but some plants benefit from two-week feedings.
Be careful not to overfertilize
Overfertilizing your plant can cause the salts in fertilizer can leech into the soil, absorbing moisture prematurely so your plant’s roots don’t get it. Your houseplant will begin drying out.
It’s so common for people to over-fertilize using Miracle Grow that I wrote an entire article to help other indoor gardeners with this specific issue. Here’s a link to that article in case you find yourself in that situation.
7. Monitor the Temperature
With spring comes less reliance on heat. You might even pop on the air conditioner, depending on the region you live in.
Now is a good time to check the temperature in your home or office and reset it if necessary.
Many indoor plant species thrive in a room-temperature environment between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Others can handle temps up to 85 degrees, but few houseplants like it hotter than that. That’s just like only some plants enjoy temperatures down to 60 degrees.
Air drafts that are either too cold or too warm can create stress in your plant, leading to symptoms such as wilting and leaf shedding.
Check that you haven’t positioned your plant too close to any drafty doors or windows, return vents, radiators, or a window air conditioner.
8. Let Some Fresh Air In
After spending months cooped up, spring weather is finally here. You’ll want to breathe in the fresh air.
Even if you keep your plants exclusively indoors, there’s no need to deprive them of outdoor air when the temps are right. Open a window, especially on those warmer days, as they’re usually humid too.
You might be able to give your humidifier a break and let nature provide humidity for your plant.