Two different tropical plants – flowers on both not looking good.


It’s been a hard winter for all of us – including our tropical houseplants.  If your plants are showing no obvious signs of disease or pests then a little extra care should bring them back to health.

The essential requirements for houseplants are light, soil, water, temperature, humidity and fertilizer.  Meeting the humidity and temperature requirements of tropical plants during the bitter winter weather we have just come through can be a challenge. Most houseplants need higher humidity than is available in the average home.  From our gardening guide to growing houseplants, the following are suggestions on improving the humidity for your plants:

  • Move plants to rooms that naturally have greater humidity, such as the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Use a small room humidifier to increase humidity in a room.
  • Use a hand sprayer each day (morning is best in somewhat cooler conditions) to lightly mist the leaves of your plants with tepid water (preferably use city water that has been stored in an open containers for a day or two).
  • Place pots on ‘pebble’ trays and keep the pebbles/ gravel/clay chips moist.
  • Place pots in groups. Air trapped between adjacent leaves will have higher humidity when compared to air around an isolated plant. Too much moisture, however, may enable the transfer of disease, so it is important to ensure good air circulation around the plants.
  • Consider double potting your plant by placing your growing pot into a larger one with walls lined with peat. Keep the peat moist.

Your plants may also have been affected by fluctuations in temperature.  Most grow comfortably in a range of 13 degrees C. to 24 degrees C. and can tolerate temperatures outside of this range for short periods.  Sudden significant fluctuations will stress your plants and may have been a factor this year.

Many houseplants have a period of dormancy that typically corresponds to the fall/winter timeframe. Growth resumes in the spring.  Once you see signs of active growth, you may need to begin monitoring for watering more frequently and consider some fertilization.  Check out our gardening guide at the link below for other suggestions on year-round care for houseplants.