Cycling Through Seaons
It certainly has been a while! I took a little time off to enjoy the holidays with friends and family, and did a little traveling. Now I am back to real life (unfortunately) and here with a couple pearls for you to put in your proverbial pocket.
Winter certainly is in full-swing here in Portland and though I wish I could say all of my plants had a smooth transition from summer —> fall —> winter, the truth is, they did not. I have had some casualties and said some goodbyes, and you know what? That’s ok.
There are a few things to remember when you cycle through seasons no matter where you live. I did a “Seasonal Plant Care” post a while back that lightly goes over some essentials of plant care, but you know what? I think this is worth digging into a little deeper.
Prepare your emotions, folks. Some plants will die.
Sometimes you cannot provide perfect conditions for all of your plants solely based on your region’s climate and lighting conditions in your living or office space throughout the changing seasons, no matter how much you want to. This is true not just for a cycling of seasons but just for LIFE as well.
I think this one took me a while to really understand and come to peace with. The reality of it is, we can’t all have the perfectly instagram-able indoor jungle we see on social media all the time. As much as I wish I could. The changing seasons and small apartment windows really see to that.
I did a lot of mass-buying plants when I first became a Plant Mom and didn’t really think about space planning, daily lighting needs, the plant needs through different seasons, repotting for growth, etc. Sometimes you see that Fiddle Leaf Fig in a nursery and you completely black out, later finding yourself at home scratching your head because you actually DON’T have room for it. Or the right lighting conditions. Or a real understanding of how to actually care for the plant properly.
The truth is that some of us live in small spaces. Sometimes those spaces don’t have very much light, or don’t hold heat well, or hold too much moisture, and all of these can eventually lead to problems with a lot of plants.
My house, for example, is a horrible condition for any genus of Calathea. All the “plant spaces” in my house either provide too little, or far too much light, which results in a very angry Calathea. They either slowly die from too little light, or get scorch marks on their leaves from the seconds of direct sunlight they may get as the sun moves throughout the day. Not to mention the drier air in winter caused from my heaters. I can’t tell you how many casualties I’ve had on pebble trays with water, or in a globe to preserve some humidity and they still weren’t getting enough.
All of this to say, you may be the best Plant Mom or Plant Dad in the world, but what you can offer may not be good enough for some finicky plants. Do your research on plants that do well for what your lighting and weather conditions provide.
The sun likes to keep things interesting, and make you look like a fool.
The sun changes its path as the days lengthen and shorten, so some spaces in my house get full sunlight in the fall and spring, but 0 direct sunlight in the summer and winter. This means that I have COMPLETELY different conditions in one spot from one season to the next. Without understanding this change throughout the seasons, I have ended up losing some beautiful plants due to a sudden direct sunbeam that is pelting down on my sensitive babe now that spring has arrive. Or a bright indirect space is now almost totally shadowed now that it’s winter. Ugh.
It’s important to get to know what the sun is doing in your space throughout the seasons, and learn how to adjust every plant’s “spot” as needed.
Watering can sometimes be your downfall. Down with root rot.
For real though, this is a tough one. There is a point in Portland where the climate decides to instantly change from a cozy fall feel to a blistery winter. The sun suddenly disappears and temperatures drop, and you are left thinking “SHIT. I just deep watered, and it’s not warm enough for the excess water to evaporate.”
I encountered this very thing this year, unfortunately, with one of my Kentia Palm trees. I did a deep watering on all my tropical plants and the season immediately changed. Every other tropical plant was able to mitigate the excess water issue, except one. Suddenly the thirsty palms that needed watering every couple days were sitting in the same wet soil for over a week and I knew what was coming. Sure enough, one of my palms started developing deep brown discoloration spreading down from the tips of certain fronds down to the stalk. The most extremely discolored frond ended up pulling right up from the soil because its root system was rotten. (insert ugly sobs here)
I aerated the soil to get some air flow through it to promote quicker drying, trimmed it back, and she seems to be doing much better now.
The truth is, this will most likely not be the last time I have to combat overwatering as a season instantly changes in Portland, but you know what? That’s ok.
If you’ve experienced something similar then you are absolutely entitled to have a moment of silence to shed your single tear as you compost a root rot riddled plant. Life moves on, and this doesn’t mean you’re a bad plant parent.
Do you need some recommendations for plants that can roll with the punches of changing seasons?
If you have a couple spaces in your house that often get low light, but once in a while get a shot of brightness as the seasons change? Consider a Chinese Evergreen, ZZ, or Snake plant. They both do phenomenal with low light, and also don’t mind a little extra light (even if it’s a direct). Have a couple pretty bright indirect spots that’ll get a bit more direct light as seasons change? Monstera Deliciosa and Fiddle Leaf Figs will eat it up. You tend to forget to water your plants no mater WHAT season it is? Consider anything in the Pothos variety. They are extremely draught tolerant and are super pretty as they start to get long vines. Snake plants also do well with little watering.
How does your space change throughout the seasons?