By Jim Swettenham
January 11, 2020
For those of us who live in the “great white north” where nights are long and cold and days are short and cold, there is a special time of year that creeps up on us.
This time usually manifests itself around the middle of January when we suddenly realize that the hours of daylight are starting to stretch out and we are blessed with cold, but clear sunny skies.
Many of us like to bring outdoor garden plants into the house in the fall to try and “winter” them over indoors…but a big mistake that we make in bringing them indoors is that we often wait until it is too late in the fall to perform our plant “rescues”
Plants naturally start slowing down and almost go into a state of hibernation or dying when the nighttime temperatures start cooling off. We think a day or two before the forecast of a first frost that we should dig up some plants and put them into containers and rescue them for the winter.
What we fail to realize is that when we do that to plants we cause them extreme stress because we disrupt their natural “hibernation/dying” process. They are already starting to adjust to natural seasonal climate changes and we shock the hell out of them by digging up their roots and sticking them into a pot of foreign soil.
Imagine if we went to the hospital and the doctor broke our arm and cut off our leg…think about the shock and stress that we would be under. The same holds true to plants. When we bring them in the house in the late fall they look happy for a few days but then the shock and stress levels take over and our happy little plants are not so happy anymore. We try to appease them by watering them and sticking them in the sunniest spot in the house. Then comes Christmas and we shock them some more by moving them to a back room to make room for Christmas trees and ornaments and window coverings, etc. And once again the plants take a back seat for the best part of December and early January.
And then our thoughts start to turn to the excitement and anticipation of the return of spring and we want to rush the season and so we start paying attention to our “house” plants again.
We have punished them and ignored them and left them to struggle on their own but if they have survived now is the time to start pampering them again.
During their natural stage of dormancy, plants have not needed a lot of attention but if they have survived the shock of trying to transform into indoor plants then they need a boost. NOW it is time to give them that additional boost by feeding them a multi-purpose plant food (fertilizer) in a regular watering program. Move them back into the big front window where they will begin to thrive under increased hours of daylight and, if necessary, you might consider supplementing daylight with an approved grow light available from your local garden centre or agricultural/horticultural supplier.
So take heart because hope is on the way and you can help promote that hope by re-focusing on the seasonal needs to revive that long-suffering faded green plant that you “rescued” from the cold climes last fall.