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We love summer, but sometimes the summer heat can be a little overwhelming.

It’s the same for your indoor plants. Even when they are in an air-conditioned office, your indoor plants can suffer from the negative effects of summer heat and humidity. Don’t let your plants sweat it out this summer. Check out our summer indoor plant care tips.

Protect your indoor plants from strong summer rays.

Don't let your indoor plants get sunburned by strong sunlight through windows in the summer. Move them to a protected spot. Photo: Yanoch Kandreeva/Creative Commons License

You put on sunscreen to keep the sun’s strong summer rays from causing sunburn. You need to protect your plants from sunburn, too. No, they aren’t going to the beach, but they can get extra doses of hot summer sunlight through south and west facing windows. You may not realize it, especially if you aren’t in your home or office during hot parts of the day. Check the position of your plants, and move them into an area whey they won’t get direct sunlight during the summer months. This is true even for succulents and cacti inside that aren’t used to direct sun.

Keep growing conditions cool Your indoor plants are a lot like you.

They don’t like it when things heat up indoors during the summer. Even if you have air conditioning, there are spots in your home or office that are hard to cool down. Make sure your plants aren’t sweating it out. Move them into cooler rooms if needed. Is your office A/C off during weekends? It can cook your office plants. You may need to take them home or move them for the summer.

If you don’t have air conditioning at home, one way to help keep your home cooler is to shut your windows against the daytime heat, then open them at night to let the cooler night air come in. It’s also a good time to run fans. Even a few degrees cooler can make a big difference.

Get misty with your plants Provide a little extra humidity for your inside plants in the summer.

Provide a little extra humidity for your inside plants in the summer. Spray them with plain water. Photo: PublicDomainPictures – Creative Commons License

Some indoor plants like higher humidity. Summer heat can lower the amount of humidity and your tropical plants like many ferns can suffer negative effects. You can provide a little humidity by sitting your plants on top of a saucer or tray with pebbles, and fill it with water. You can also mist your plants regularly. Make sure you don’t overspray and hurt electronics or furniture.

Bottoms up!

You may need to adjust your watering schedule during the summer. Plant professionals like us will always warn you not to overwater your indoor plants. More indoor plants get killed off this way than from neglect. But in the summer months, plants need a thorough soaking. You should water deeply and slowly. If you just dump a full watering can over your plants in a single drenching, a lot of the water will run off the sides of the plant and out of the bottom. Water a little at a time. Sit the plant in a bowl and let it absorb extra water from the bottom for 10 minutes after watering. But DON’T forget it there, or the roots will rot and we’re back to killing your plants.

Check your indoor plants more often.

You might think your plant is asking for water, but don’t overdo it – even in the summer. Be sure to check frequently. Photo: Skitterphoto – Creative Commons License

Get into the habit of testing the moisture level of your indoor plants more often than you usually do. The best way you can check by feeling the soil, and water when the soil is dry a few inches below the surface. You might chose to get a small moisture meter to test your plants, but these can be unreliable. If your plants are sitting in air conditioning, they can dry out quickly due to the lack of humidity.

Watch for signs of summer stress

Catch problems due to summer heat early by watching for signs of stress to your plants, and make adjustments before your plant suffer permanent damage. Common signs include:

  • Wilted leaves
  • Pale, yellow, or brown leaves
  • Rough brown patches – this can be scorching or sunburn
  • Flowers or leaves dropping off

Avoid re-potting plants in hot weather.

Summer isn’t a good time to re-pot your plants. It can stress them to the point of damage. Photo: Kathleen Moore – Creative Commons license

Good plant maintenance requires re-potting rootbound plants when needed. But don’t pick a hot summer day to do it. Repotting your plants is stressful. Leaves and roots get trimmed back, or sometimes damaged. Your indoor plants may not survive the extra stress.

Avoid significant pruning or cleanup

Like repotting, plants need pruning from time to time to prompt new growth and promote a healthier shape. But it’s also stressful. Wait until the temperature drops a little in the fall months to do any snipping.

Keep it clean.

Keep your indoor plants tidy and clean up any dropped leaves or other debris.

Pruning isn’t a good idea, but DO clean up yellowing or dying leaves and flowers. Dropping leaves piling up on the soil makes a perfect home for pests – especially those nasty fungus gnats.

Should you fertilize plants in the summer?

It’s best to put your indoor plants on a regular feeding schedule, avoiding the hottest part of the summer. Photo: Jeon Songo – Creative Commons License

The best time to fertilize your indoor plants is in the spring and summer. We only fertilize our interior plants 3 to 4 times per year; March, May, July and September. Choose a fertilizer or plant food with a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and use it at half strength. Look on the label for a number like this: 10-15-10.

But DON’T fertilize your indoor plants on a really hot or dry day, and don’t fertilize stressed plants. If your plant is fighting to survive through the summer heat, fertilizing it will only stress it out more. Better to wait until it cools down.

If you’d rather go on vacation from plant care this summer, Good Earth Plant Company can take care of your plants for you. Call on us this summer or any season to keep your indoor plants at their healthiest and happiest all year long.

About the Author
Jim Mumford is owner of Good Earth Plant Company / GreenScaped Buildings, and an award winning plantscaper, green roof and living wall designer, a sought after speaker and a recipient of numerous local and national awards.
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