Having plants around the house is one thing, keeping them alive is another thing altogether. If you find you’re spending a small fortune but can’t settle on a recipe for success, here are some summer tips for helping houseplants in hot weather.
You may have the wrong environment in your home for the plants you chose, or you may just have picked plants requiring specialist care. Here instead are some foolproof plants to try, which always put on a good show!
Caring for houseplants in summer
Caring for houseplants in summer requires special attention due to the increased heat, sunlight and lack of moisture. Here are some fundamentals to help you care for your plants:
- Watering: Increase the frequency of watering, but be sure you have proper drainage to prevent root rot. Check moisture levels regularly and water when the top inch of soil is dry.
- Sunlight: Place plants away from intense, direct sunlight to avoid leaf burn. Filtered or indirect sunlight is ideal.
- Humidity: Some plants may require higher humidity. Use a humidifier or mist the leaves regularly to create a suitable environment.
Pruning: Trim dead or yellowing leaves to encourage new growth and improve air circulation.
- Fertilisation: Provide a balanced liquid fertiliser every 2-4 weeks to support growth during the active season.
- Pest control: Watch for pests like aphids and spider mites. Treat infestations promptly with natural or chemical solutions.
- Repotting: If the plant outgrows its pot, consider repotting into a slightly larger container with fresh soil.
- Protection: Shield plants from sudden temperature changes and strong winds, especially if they are placed outdoors.
Plant care is not a one-size fits all affair, you will have to make adjustments for non-native and delicate plants. For example, you won’t need to water cacti in the same way you would azaleas.
Cacti and succulents
Lots of shapes and sizes to choose from; unusual; very suited to modern loft-style décor but requires some adjustments to ensure they thrive in the warmer months. Here are some tips:
- Place your cactus in an area with plenty of bright, direct sunlight. Though cacti love the sun, be careful with scorching midday rays – sunlight through windows can be very intense.
- While cacti are drought-tolerant, they still need occasional watering in summer. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Be cautious not to over-water, as this can lead to root rot.
- Use a well-draining cactus or succulent-specific potting mix to prevent waterlogged roots.
- Ensure good air circulation around the cactus to prevent any issues with humidity and fungal growth.
- Most cacti prefer warm temperatures during the day, but they appreciate slightly cooler nights. Avoid exposing them to drastic temperature fluctuations.
- Feeding: In summer, cacti are in their active growing phase. Use a balanced cactus fertiliser at half-strength once a month during this period.
- Avoid repotting your cactus during the summer. If necessary, do it before or after the active growth period.
- Keep an eye out for common pests like mealybugs or spider mites. Treat any infestations promptly.
Geranium (botanically called Pelargonium)
Colourful rounded leaves, bright blowsy flowers; sometimes scented too.
With indoor geraniums you can get beautiful blooms well into autumn. With a little care geraniums are a hardy and colourful houseplant:
- Positioning: Place geraniums in a sunny spot with at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. They thrive in bright light.
- Watering: Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry. Allow excess water to drain to prevent damage to the roots.
- Humidity: Geraniums tolerate average indoor humidity, but you can mist them occasionally to boost humidity levels.
- Pruning: Regularly pinch off deadheads and trim leggy stems to encourage bushier growth and more flowers.
- Feeding: Use a balanced liquid fertiliser every 2-4 weeks to support blooming and overall health.
- Pots: Keep an eye on growth. Indoor geraniums can thrive and outgrow their pot over the course of the summer. If your plant has outgrown its container, consider repotting with fresh potting mix.
- Temperature: Geraniums prefer warm temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Avoid exposing them to cold drafts and keep away from radiators and open fireshousepl.
- Pest control: Check for pests like aphids or whiteflies. If detected, treat the plants promptly with appropriate solutions.
By following these tips, your indoor geraniums will flourish throughout the summer, adding vibrant colours and delightful scents to your living space.
The Victorian’s favourite, and not called the cast-iron plant for nothing; impressive strap-like leaves in a fountain shape. Low maintenance and eye catching when mature. Care essentials:
- Place in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sun exposure, as it can cause leaf scorch.
- Aspidistra are quite hardy and will grow quite happily in moderate temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Mist with water in hot weather – a bit of moisture will not harm the leaves. Keep them away from radiators or drafts.
- Water the plant thoroughly but allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Do not saturate or allow to sit in water, as this will damage the roots. Make sure your potting mix is well-draining and you should be okay.
- Avoid temptation to re-pot during hot weather. If necessary, do it before or after the summer season.
- Aspidistra loves good air circulation. Place your plant where you know there is lots of moving air around the plant to avoid issues with humidity and pests.
- You can feed using a balanced liquid fertiliser at half-strength once a month through the summer growing season.
- Keep an eye out for common pests such as spider mites or mealybugs. If detected, take appropriate measures to address the issue.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
Large glossy leaves which droop when it needs watering; pure white spathes, or flower ‘cloaks’ throughout the year; improves air quality too.
Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata)
Vibrant stripy tufts on long bamboo-like trunks; loves being potbound; doesn’t mind drying out if you forget to water. In summer will be happy if you follow these tips:
- Position in bright, indirect sunlight. Dracaena marginata tolerates direct morning sun but avoid intense afternoon rays.
- Keep it away from cold drafts, radiators and air conditioning. The ideal temperature range for dragon tree is between 65-80°F (18-27°C).
- Water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Use a well-draining potting mix to promote healthy root growth and to help prevent waterlogging, as this will damage the roots.
- Dracaena marginata can tolerate average indoor humidity, but occasional misting can help it during dry periods.
- Feed the plant with a balanced liquid fertiliser every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer).
- Prune back yellow or browning leaves to maintain a neat appearance and encourage new growth.
- Avoid repotting during the summer unless the plant has outgrown its container. If needed, choose a slightly larger pot with fresh soil.
- Check for the usual parisitic suspects – spider mites and mealybugs.
Generally puts up with most conditions, including under-watering, and prefers being cool. Indoors, Ivy will maintain its lush green appearance through summer with the lightest of care and intervention on your part.
- Avoid positioning in intense, direct sunlight as it may scorch the leaves. Ivy prefers indirect sunlight.
- Protect it from extreme heat or cold drafts. Ideal temperature range for your plant is between 65-75°F (18-24°C).
- Keep hydrated: Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry.
- Ivy appreciates higher humidity levels. You can mist the leaves occasionally or use a humidity tray to create a suitable environment.
- Trim back leggy growth and remove any yellow or dead leaves to encourage bushier growth.
- Feed using a balanced liquid fertiliser every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer).
- Keep an eye out for common indoor pests like spider mites or aphids.
Glamorous cone-shaped flowers and arrow-shaped leaves.
Grassy umbrella tufts on long stems; originates from the floodplains of Egypt and is part of the sedge family. Recorded as the earliest form of paper when discovered in the tomb of Saqqara, who was buried around 2900BC.
- Place the papyrus in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. It enjoys partial shade and, like most plants, should be protected from intense, direct sun. As a rule, if you cannot read a newspaper without artificial light in the place you want to put your papyrus, you have no business expecting the plant to enjoy life there.
- Warm temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) suit papyrus well.
- Keep the soil around the plant consistently moist during the summer. Papyrus thrives in waterlogged conditions, so consider placing the pot in a shallow tray of water.
- Papyrus is used to high humidity. While our summers are not renowned for humidity you can recreate similar conditions for your plants by regular misting with a diffuser or using a humidifier.
- If the plant is in rich composted soil it should not need too much feeding. For plants that have been standing in the same pot for a few years, you can feed with a liquid fertiliser such as Empathy After Plant Biostimulant or RocketGro Plant Fuel.
- Trim back any yellow or brown leaves and cut off excess growth to maintain a tidy appearance.
If you found Caring for houseplants in summer: Top tips for healthy plants helpful, you’ll find more ideas for healthy houseplants on our Home and Lifestyle channel.houseplants Last modified: July 26, 2023