If a recent winter storm has left you without power or heat in your home, your indoor tropical plants may be shivering right alongside you. Most houseplants prefer temperatures between 65–75 degrees and can begin to show signs of damage when temperatures fall below 50. The longer the cold remains, the more potential damage may occur. Although there is no substitute for actual heat when you have no power, there are a few things you can do and a few things to avoid to help bide your time until services are restored.
Move plants away from cold windows, especially single-pane glass. For maximum effectiveness, temporarily relocate all plants to an inner room (with no outside walls); it’s even better if this is also the room where you and your household are spending the most time as it will be warmer from collective body heat. If you are unable to move plants away from windows, place a sheet of bubble wrap against the glass for a layer of insulation. Likewise, if you are heating your space with a fireplace or woodstove, be sure to keep all plants far enough away from the heat to prevent scorching the leaves.
Don’t water with cold water. Although indoor plants do not require watering as frequently this time of year, should you need to water them, be sure NOT to do it with extremely cold water. It’s best to let the water reach at least room temperature by drawing water from the tap and letting it sit overnight in the warmest room of the house.
As you check for signs of trouble, here are a few things to expect. Many plants show cold stress by wilting, slightly drooping, or rolling up their foliage. If your plants are doing this, do NOT give them water if the soil is already wet—in this case, water will not help. In mild cases, wilted plants will rebound when it gets warmer. The newest or youngest leaves will most likely show damage, as they are most tender. If some of the foliage turns a deeper, slick-looking green or even blackish color, it has gotten too cold and should be removed.
Ultimately, gardeners see the bright side of things and try to focus on positivity. Even if some of your lovely indoor plants suffered this past week, they are most likely not dead, so with a little trimming and some TLC (better yet, a new grow light), they should be thrilling you with their miraculous resiliency as they put out new growth this spring! If you would like to have one of our houseplant experts assist you at home, check out our virtual houseplant consultation program and book your appointment soon!