Winter can be the most difficult season for houseplant/kokedama owners. Decreased levels of sunlight, cold climate and less humidity all provide an extra challenge for most tropical houseplants. In response to these conditions, they like to conserve as much energy as they can to survive the winter. And it’s important that you allow them to do this. New growth will likely be slow or non-existent, but this is not a bad thing. If you continue to care for them as you do in the summer months, you will encourage them to keep growing as opposed to conserving the energy they need to survive the winter. So, to help get your kokedama through the British winter, below are a few tips from Entwined.
Reduce Watering Schedule!
Overwatering can be a problem for your kokedama any time of the year. However, overwatering becomes even more of a risk during the winter months. Only water your kokedama once it has completely dried out (it should feel as light as polystyrene), and do not add any feed or fertiliser to your plant over the winter months. For some plants, this can mean watering only once every 3 or 4 weeks. If you are currently checking your plant every 7 days, reduce this to every 12-14. And remember to only water when completely dry! In addiction to reducing watering frequency, I strongly recommend not using the soaking method of watering. In the winter months especially, mould can grow on the moss ball if it is left damp for long periods. Using the soaking method is much more likely to cause this than watering from the top. If your kokedama does develop mould on the base, wipe it off with a damp cloth and soap. Try to place it in a brighter area of your home with good air-flow to help prevent the mould coming back.
*Of course, there is always an exception to the rule - ferns are species that prefer their soil to be slightly moist at all times. It is extra important to consider this if you own a fern kokedama. Try and stick with your current watering schedule throughout winter and take note if your plant starts to change in any way. Make sure you are aware of signs of overwatering and monitor your plant accordingly.
Move Into the Light
With the summer sun long gone, the risk of sunburn to your plants is dramatically reduced. With shorter, darker days, your kokedama will want as much natural light as it can get. Moving your kokedama to the sunniest parts of your home is the easiest way to help with this. Keeping windows clean, and washing dust off the leaves also help maximise the amount of light reaching your plant. Placing your kokedama directly on a windowsill is ok in the daytime (with the window closed), however be aware that overnight if the curtains are drawn it may get too cold for the plant, so consider repositioning it to a warmer spot.
Humidity - Do What You Can
Winters in Britain are not a humid affair. This means your tropical houseplant is going to miss the humidity it naturally thrives in. A common sign that your plant is struggling with the drier air in winter is that it will begin to develop brown tips on the end of its leaves. To help with this, there are a number of quick and easy ways to increase the humidity around your kokedama. The easiest way is to regularly give your plant a mist. Spraying with a little water every day is a great way to keep the air around it moist. Grouping plants together can be an effective way of increasing the humidity of the air around the plants. Better still, if you have a bathroom with lots of natural light, your kokedama will thrive in the warm moist air produced each time you have a shower - so consider moving your plants here if possible. Humidifiers are a more expensive, but very effective way of increasing humidity also.
Not Too Cold... Or Too Hot!
Most houseplants can survive temperatures as low as 12°C but dislike large fluctuations in temperature. In winter, our homes tend to have greater temperature variations than the rest of the year. With this in mind, try to keep your kokedama in a room that will not get too cold or hot through the day or night. Similarly, do not place it close to a direct heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace as this can scorch the leaves.