This is the time of year that indoor plants draw attention. Many holiday plants like poinsettias, Amaryllis, cactus and others are added to the interior space. Those of us with a collection of indoor plants already hunt for a place for any new comers. These new ones may be only temporary occupants but require proper care for the duration.

Over watering is the number one killer of plants. Plant growth is slowed in the winter. Less water will be needed by plants. Location will have an impact on watering. Plants situated near the forced air vent will likely require frequent checking. The growing media makes a significant difference. The more soil and peat moss in the media, the less often it will need moistened. Plant species differ in water needs as well.

A method to determine when to water is by lifting up the plant in the container. The pot that is light is a candidate for watering or sticking a finger into the media is another way to determine if one should water. Add sufficient water so that it drains out of the holes in the bottom of the container.

Light is the critical factor for indoor plant growth. Plants outdoors receive more light than indoors. As the duration of light gets shorter, less light is available for plant growth. Don’t expect or try to encourage plant growth without adequate light. Adequate natural light for plant growth won’t be available until next March.

To make matters worse, a layer of dust usually forms on the leaves which reduce light even more. Remove the dust with plain old water. Actually, distilled water would be best since it won’t leave any mineral residue.

With less light for plant growth, little fertilizer is needed. Actually, no fertilizer is needed until next March for interior plants.

Plants prefer humidity. The ideal situation is to have your houseplants surrounding your hot tub in a sunroom. Since most of us don’t have that environment, the plants will have to deal with it just as we do. Forget about humidity.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at And you contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350, stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mailing

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