Care of house grown plants in northern latitudes during winter can be tricky. There are several challenges that must be met on a regular basis. Light and indoor plant care in winter is most important.

The first is the lack of sunlight. In the winter the sun is lower in the sky and the days are much longer than in the summer. For example during winter months the sun comes up about 7:00 am and goes down before 5:00 pm while in the summer the sun comes up at 5:30 am and can stay up until almost 9:00 pm. So during winter it is important to keep plants in areas that receive the most sun.

A southern window is a good choice especially over a kitchen sink. This way the plants get extra humidity and sun at the same time. One trick that can help is to place a sheet of white card stock on the dark side of the plant to reflect extra light to the back side of the plant. Aluminum foil could also be used. Be sure to rotate the plants from time to time to even out the light, otherwise the plants may grow toward the window and become lop sided. Just make sure the window is not too awful cold.

In addition to the sunny window it may be necessary to add to the light. One way to do this is with fluorescent lights. There are a few sizes available including 2 foot and 4 foot fixtures. Your individual needs and space restraints will determine which size you need. Hang them on chains that can be adjusted to keep the lights just above the tops of the plants. If the fixture is too high the plants may grow “leggy” trying to reach the light.

Another source of light could be a high pressure sodium light. There are smaller sodium lights available as garage or outdoor lights. While these are not well suited for indoor use they may work well in a greenhouse setting.

If you have more plants than windows or auxiliary lights you can still add extra light by rotating the plants into the light on a regular basis.
Lastly there are some plants that will do well with out extra light. Be sure to choose these for the “shady” parts of the house. Certain ferns are a good choice and philodendron will do well in the darker corners or northern windows.

Tomorrow … about watering.

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