Put on a sweater and other indoor gardening tips for fall

As the days get darker and the air changes, master gardener Brian Minter says indoor plants need a little more tender loving care.

Master gardener Brian Minter shares advice to combat changing light, heat and humidity conditions

Plants need extra care as the seasons change even when they are indoors, says master gardener Brian Minter. (Getty Images/Cultura RM)

The cooler weather means a lot more time indoors for gardeners — but there's still work to be done. 

As the days get darker and the air changes, master gardener Brian Minter says plants need to be protected once they've been moved inside to prevent them from suffering and turning yellow.  

"We treat our plants just like we always did but no, it's a new situation," he told CBC guest host of B.C. Almanac Michelle Elliot.

Minter said indoor plants, even a small potted plant on the windowsill, brightens the room and helps purify the air. But they need extra care this time of year to combat the changing light, heat and humidity conditions.

"Each day, we're losing more light and light is the essence — it's the life and death of plants inside our homes," Minter said. "We need to move our plants to where they are getting more light."

And not just any light, he said. Indirect light is better than direct sunlight and artificial light can be a good substitute on those cloudy overcast days, Minter recommended.

"We have so many great LED types of lighting that you simply plug into a wall to give your plants a good spectrum of light so that helps immensely," he said.

'Put a sweater on'

Along with less light, decreased humidity can also be deadly for plants and cranking up the heat in the house only makes it worse.

"Put a sweater on — I'm serious. It's chilly outside, we're going to put the temperature up and when the temperature inside your home starts to rise, the humidity disappears," he said.  

Watering plants is, of course, also vital but many people don't do it correctly. Minter said the common method of touching the top of the soil to check water levels is inefficient.

"That gets your fingers dirty and that's about all it does," he said. "Pick up the plant and feel the weight of the plant."

If the plant is heavy, the water levels are good and if it's lighter than usual, give it warm — not cold — water, he said.

And it's always better to underwater plants than overwater them, Minter added, because underwatering is easier to fix.

"Go hug a plant but, more importantly, we have to change how we look after them," he said.

To hear more, click on the B.C. Almanac podcast below:

With files from B.C. Almanac.