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How to Get Your Houseplants Ready for Spring

The season of growth has arrived! Here’s how to make the most of it.

Architectural Digest

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plants in pots

Maybe you started stockpiling snake plants during the winter. Maybe you’ve been growing a Callathea collection for years! Whatever your houseplant situation, spring’s increased daylight and warmer temperatures mean major growth. Armed with a few tricks for fertilizing, watering, and propagation, it’s an opportunity to breathe new life into your houseplant ecosystem, no matter its size. So we called in the experts: plant consultant Briana St. Holder, founder of Eargardn and Free Plants ATL, and Summer Rayne Oakes, host of the series Plant One on Me and founder of Homestead Brooklyn. These are their best tips for making the most of the growing season.

Adjust to changes in sunlight

Longer days mean that many plants begin to wake up from their winter dormancy. Increased sunlight fuels new growth, but some plants can’t handle intense sun, so get ready to rearrange based on each plant’s light preference. “A cactus or certain succulents are desert plants so they like a hot window, but your fern might not want that,” says Briana. “If a plant thrives in medium light, you want to maintain that the whole year.” But just because it’s spring doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have increased light. “I have huge trees outside my house, so as soon as those trees start filling in with leaves it blocks out a lot of sunlight,” says Briana. She adapts by moving many plants onto the patio, using a small outdoor bar cart, and even onto the front steps for maximum space.

Up the H2O

Bright daylight and heat cause plants to dry out more quickly, and plants with a spring growing season require more water to grow strong and tall. You should be thoroughly soaking your plants year round, but the amount of time between waterings may shorten in spring. Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. “Generally, you’ll find a plant will start to wrinkle or pucker. If it’s a leafy-foliage variety, it’ll fold its leaves in or they’ll start to flag and hang down,” says Summer Rayne.

After adjusting your watering schedule, look for other ways to boost humidity to keep soil moist for longer. Grab a humidifier, mist periodically throughout the day, or even consider rearranging your plants. “Plants are happier together,” says Briana. “An area with a few plants will have more humidity than just your plant alone on a shelf.”

Fuel new growth with fertilizing

“Fertilizing is really important for the longevity of your plants because you’re basically putting the nutrients that soil loses through constant watering back into the soil,” says Briana. “I like to use earthworm castings, which are naturally occurring, so it’s a bit harder to overdo it or burn your roots, which can happen if you use too much strong fertilizer.”

“Typically, I start with a very diluted solution in the spring—and, honestly, the frequency depends on the actual plant itself,” says Summer Rayne. She prefers organic fertilizer like Espoma or Jack’s Fertilizer, which are gentler on plants, and even shares a digital comprehensive resource on establishing fertilizing schedules, from Aglaonema to ZZ plants.

Give roots room to grow

Repotting is essential to support your plants’ growth—cramped, “rootbound” plants will grow slowly, dry out quickly, and even die. Repotting is a good opportunity to change out the soil and perform a general checkup on the root system. “I look for dead roots, insects, or anything that could be mushy,” says Summer Rayne. “For the most part, you can clip those off.” It can be tempting to put your plant into a huge planter with room to grow, but don’t! “If you have a six-inch monstera in a 14-inch pot, it’ll cause root rot or a host of other issues. Your plant doesn’t have the root system to support a pot that large,” says Briana. “It’s better to only size up two inches at a time.”

Maximize your collection with cuttings

Want more plants for free? Of course you do, and propagation (a.k.a cutting and regrowing plants) is the best way to make that happen. “Most plants are springs/summer/fall growers, so it’s a good time to propagate when growth is going to occur, and of course day length and light has a lot to do with that,” says Summer Rayne. “Cuttings usually root up a lot easier in the spring, and I’m in the Northeast, so I also find spring is a really good time to restart succulents by taking a lot of cuttings.” You don’t need to use fancy rooting hormones or anything—just put your cuttings in a clear bottle or jar filled up with water and watch the roots grow. Briana waits until she sees six to eight inches of roots, then plants the cuttings in their new home.

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This post originally appeared on Architectural Digest and was published March 23, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.

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