Hello, and welcome back to Gardening with Ms. Kate, where we learn how to take care of our plants! Today, we will be discussing Dormancy, the plant equivalent to naptime!
Dormancy is a process found in plants in which the whole or a part of the plant exhibits little to no growth. This usually happens in the Fall or Winter, when there is less light for them to produce energy. This can be similar to how bears go into hibernation. They both go into a comatose state until the beginning of Spring, where they will resume their normal activities, surviving another cold season.
What are the signs that my plant is now in the cycle of dormancy? There are a few signs that your plant has gone dormant. One sign is that they are wilting over. (I would be wilting too if I didn’t have sun to feed me!) A way to make sure that your plant is dormant and not dying is the branch test. You break off a little piece of their branch, and if it is green on the inside, your plant is just resting until Springtime. You can see the same results with a scratch test, which is scratching a stem or branch to see if it is green on the inside. If you are doing this test with any ficus, philodendron, zz, or other poisonous plants, wear gloves and wash your hands, the sap of these plants can irritate your skin. Or, you can do the root test. Healthy roots (white, not brown) will be a sure tell sign that your plant is still healthy even though the rest of the plant does not look like it is. A less invasive test is noting that your plant has stopped putting out new leaves.
So, what does this mean for our indoor houseplants? Even though they are indoors, they will still fall into dormancy, even Travis, your cacti on the windowsill. Well, even though Travis the Cactus has stopped growing, it doesn’t mean to stop watering it, it just means to water less than you did before. If you water your philodendron twice a week, water it once instead, this helps give the plant water without causing root rot in the process. If you are unsure about if it is the right time to water your plant again, put a finger at least two inches into the soil. If it is still damp, give it a few more days. Overall, monitor any changes and keep notes about your watering days. I know it can get confusing when your schedule shifts, error is human, and sometimes you lose a few plants in the Winter.
Always remember, gardening is a learning experience, and there are times when you lose plants along the way, and that is okay! Happy gardening!
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