Yes, the foliage friends you’ve been taking care of all year long will need a little attention if you want to ensure your houseplants survive the heat wave. It is true that some will thrive. Succulents will think they are back in the motherland, and can be left to their own devices. But as for anything else, the rules change quite a bit — even how often to water your plants and when is up for debate.
Here are the five things I do to keep my business as alive as possible, and the tips I pull off each year. Even my white philodendron is currently not wilting (and it wilts at the slightest).
How to ensure your houseplants survive the heat wave
1. A water well is the last thing at night
Plants need to be well fortified with water if they are going to survive a heat wave, and they tend to be able to drink better when they cool off. Drink everything right before you go to bed the evening before – and then on the evenings – the heat wave. Your plants will be in a better position to absorb the liquid throughout the relatively cool period of the night, thus getting into the higher temperatures as much as possible.
As a general rule, it doesn’t actually matter how much water you give the plant, but how often, and how moist the soil stays. The plants will take only the water they need – if you put them in stands with good drainage, the rest will drain. Be generous and immerse them. As long as their roots don’t sink after that, it will give them the best chance of survival.
2. Move your plants out of direct sunlight
Even the most sun-loving of plants will appreciate some calm from the day’s glow. With the exception of cacti and other succulents, move all of your houseplants to corners of your house where there is daylight, but where they are not directly in contact with the leaves. Placing this leafy fig, close to the skylight but not directly under it, is ideal.
Since that’s – hopefully – only for a day or two, this base, usually reserved for the best low-light houseplants, can cover just about anything. Even sun worshipers will thank you for it in the long run.
3. Put houseplants in the bathroom
In fact, if you want to be better, move your houseplants to a well-ventilated bathroom. Modern bathrooms tend not to have a lot of sunshine in them anyway, and the dampness and dampness from any showers will create a better environment for your plant.
This is where the moody white philodendron currently lives, soaking in the mist from the steam of all the many showers I take. It is thriving.
4. Give them ice cubes in the middle of the afternoon
Even with all this extra care for plants, some houseplants – like some humans – are still unhappy in this heat. Do a mid-afternoon check, and see how they are.
If there is any serious wilt — and hopefully not if they had a really good drink the night before — give them ice cubes, set on top of the soil. They will be absorbed a little slower than regular water, which will cool the soil around the roots and make it easier for them to drink.
5. Move any struggling plants to a cool, dark place
Move any plants that are struggling to a shadier location. A cool pantry, under a dining table on the ground floor of your house, or wherever you find it cools. It’s not forever – shade won’t hurt them for a few hours – but until they’re good enough to stand up to direct light.
Most plants are relatively hardy, and these simple tricks should ensure that your indoor garden will thrive during a blast. Gentlemen are ready…one for plants, one for yourself.
Take a look at our editor’s pick for The best tools for a heat wave.