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Be winter wise to maintain your greens

Many plants are not from this region but are popular due to their beautiful foliage and form.

Be winter wise to maintain your greens

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Amarjeet Batth

Many plants are not from this region but are popular due to their beautiful foliage and form. These plants, often termed exotic, embellish outdoors as well indoors round the year with their green cover. In their native region, these plants grow and flourish under the canopy of tall trees and receive filtered light. These grow and maintain well in moderate temperature, which is the climate of their native region. In North India, these plants do tolerate warm conditions during summer but once the temperature drops from December till February, these need to be protected from the chill. Else these can perish or get damaged.

The first and foremost consideration is to identify those plants which need winter protection. Here’s a look at some popular plants:

Areca palm and raphis palm give a rich and tropical feel. Over a period of time, these have adapted themselves well but these do need cover in winter. Do not overwater and don’t let the water stand, which may cause the roots to rot.

Aglaonema is a favourite indoor as well as outdoor plant. It flourishes well in indirect sunlight. Avoid cold locations, which can damage the foliage.

Chlamandorea palm is suitable as a potted plant for indoors as it grows slow and maintains moderate height. This does not require full sun but partial shade. Regular application of fertilisers once in a month is beneficial.

Croton must be planted in a sunny spot. In winter, due to reduced sunlight, the leaves turn green with yellow veins, which even fall. Reduce watering during winter and allow the top soil to dry. March onwards as the climate improves and starts turning warm, croton leaves give rich colours.

Dieffenbachia requires bright indirect light. It performs well under partial sunlight or under cover. Give shallow irrigation, especially in winter, keeping the soil slightly dry to moist.

Schefflera flourishes at a bright spot with indirect light. In the absence of light or low light, it will grow ‘leggy’ while under direct sunlight, the leaves burn. Leaves turn yellow and fall due to over-watering. Wrinkled leaves may indicate under watering.

Drascena should be planted at a bright spot but should not get direct sunlight. These need cover protection during winters.  

Syhgonium is a bushy plant with arrow-shaped leaves. The newly sprout leaves are a real charm. Plant it in a sunny spot with a cover to get filtered light. Keep the soil wet but when placed in low light, do not overwater.

Philodendrum with heart-shaped leaves needs a climate similar to that of rainforests — bright filtered sunlight. Since it can reach up to 3m in height, it needs enough vertical space and a support — natural or artificial.

Upkeep and maintenance

The plants planted under a big tree or net survive even in extreme winter, provided the humidity is maintained by spraying water around the plants.

  • Potted plants may be shifted along the wall of southern western side, preferably under a canopy. 
  • Weekly cleaning of leaves for better appearance and more sunlight falling on leaves.
  • Rotation of pots gives all around sunlight and helps the plants to grow uniformly.
  • The reserve food capacity of indoors plants gets reduced in low or indirect sunlight. These need to be charged regularly by exposing these to sunlight. Move the plants outdoor once in a fortnight.
  • Do not overwater. Just keep the pot soil moist, or wait till the top soil gets dry.
  • The outdoors plants must be misted in the evening hours.
  • Often, the extremely low temperature may damage the foliage. The lost foliage regenerates as the weather warms up.
  • A dose of liquid manure or fertiliser is beneficial.
  • If humidly is high in winter, the foliage may get damaged due to fungus   ‘botrytis’. Prophylactic spray with two per cent ‘bavistan’ may be done covering the foliage.

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