Autumn in Melbourne can be amazing, crisp, sunny days and colder nights make us all reach for the comfy woollies. Your plants will need some care adjustments too.
Time to Move Your Indoor Plants
While you're feeling the seasons change so are your plants and these changes can be quite dramatic. If your plants have been enjoying the summer holidaying out on your balcony or terrace then we strongly recommend bringing them in before the temperature drops below 15 degrees overnight, this is especially true for tropical species like Calatheaand other cold sensitive plants like Pilea peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant).
You will need to choose where you place them once inside which can be a fun motivation to re-style your interiors - just make sure your plants are away from any direct heat sources such as central heating vents or fire places. It may sound obvious but what you think is cozy ambient heat may be like a furnace for your indoor plants more adapted to a damp forest floor.
They'll also need to be away from drafty spots so choose carefully the plants you leave in your entrance. No-one likes the drafty seat next the restaurant door where you catch every blast from outside with each opening. It's the same for your plants. These extreme temperature changes will be certain death for many indoor plants.
Don't be surprised if your plants lose a few leaves with the change of position - they are adjusting to the new normal. Which in autumn and winter means shorter days and changing angles of sunlight. Ideally, try to keep your plants in an area where they get roughly the same amount of sunlight without being in direct contact with the window.
A good trick for checking your light levels is placing your hand between the plant and light source (about 20cm away from plant) if there's no shadow you'll need to move them closer or consider artificial lighting.
Also, don't forget to rotate your plants regularly to encourage even growth during winter.
Don't Forget to Dust
During the colder months we are much less likely to open our windows and this inevitably means an accumulation of dust. This isn't great for us or our house plants. A gentle wipe with a damp cloth twice a week or whenever the leaves look dusty will help your plant photosynthesise and stay healthy.
We definitely don't recommend any products that promote making leaves shiny as these are usually designed for leaves in the floral & events industries - they look great in the short term but actually cause the plant pores to clog and lead to a sick plant.
If you have plants that you can't wipe with damp cloth, such as cacti and succulents using a soft brush is a safer method.
Watering in autumn/winter is required much less frequently and you may have a little trial and error before you get it right if you're a plant parent newbie. Think of it as getting to know your plant family and all their idiosyncrasies. For most plants watering once week in winter will suffice. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't check in on them regularly, especially if your place gets particularly dry. Regularly check the top soil with your fingers and if it feels dry then it's safe to water.
With all the rain that's usually about it's also a great time to collect some rain water and store for later use on your more delicate plants.
Many houseplants prefer a humid environment which is why they can suffer in the autumn and winter with the heating on. Misting regularly can help as can clustering plants together as this how they would be found in the wild. Also, if you are remembering to wipe your leaves regularly this will increase moisture around the plants too. Another option is to use a gravel tray or even a humidifier. As long as the humidifier is up high (preferably on a shelf) and not condensating on hard surfaces there shouldn't be any issues with mould.
Forget about it during the colder months as it can put undue stress on plants that are trying to rest. Light and water are all that most plants require during this season.
*Photo credit: The Studio Melbourne
Styling by Annette Brooker, Kristy Gordon & Michelle Harrison
Styling Assist: Petrina Turner