How To Care For Your Pilea During The Fall
It’s beginning to get chilly out there, right? We bet you’re already excited about cooler weather, pumpkin spice cookies, and the spectacle of changing foliage.
When the seasons change, it’s a great opportunity for us to take stock of our houseplants. And just because we grow our Pileas indoors, in a fairly stable environment, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to adjust their care routine in the fall.
Throughout the fall, the amount of natural light that your Pilea receives decreases gradually. The change is barely perceptible in early September, but it starts to accelerate in mid-October and even more so after daylight savings.
What this means for your plant is that it won’t absorb as much light for photosynthesis. Consequently, it won’t need as much of other resources either (such as water and fertilizer).
Here are six adjustments to ensure that your Pilea stays healthy and thriving in the fall months.
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1. Fine-tune your Pilea’s watering schedule in the fall
When plants are slowing down for the winter, they don’t need as much water as they do when they’re actively growing during spring and summer. That’s why you should taper down the amount of water you give your Pileas.
Overwatering is never a good idea, but plants become extremely susceptible to root rot when we forget to adjust their water intake in the cold months.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all advice for watering, the best thing you can do is observe your plant and your environment for clues of what works best. As a general rule, your Pilea will need water when the soil around the roots is dry. Poke your finger or a chopstick into the soil two inches deep. If the soil feels dry, then you can water your Pilea.
2. Move your Pilea closer to a source of natural light
We want to get this straight: Pilea plants don’t like being placed in direct sunlight. Your Pilea will live its best life in bright but indirect light.
However, in the fall, as the light shifts and changes around your home, it might be safe to move your Pilea closer to a window, while still making sure that it doesn’t get direct scorching sunlight.
As the plant adapts to lower light levels, you may notice that the leaves will turn a darker shade of green. Your Pilea might even become leggier in its search for sunlight. Rotate your Pilea once every couple of weeks to encourage it to grow evenly and not overstretch to one side.
As the days draw in, make sure your window panes are unobstructed and clean enough to let in as much natural light as possible. And while you’re at it, check to see if your windows are sealed and insulated. If you live in a really cold climate where temperatures drop below freezing at night, make sure that your Pilea isn’t touching a frozen window pane.
On the other hand, if you notice that your plant is still struggling with the lack of light as the nights grow longer in late-fall, consider investing in a grow light setup.
3. Go easy on the fertilizer
Since your Pilea is not actively growing in the colder months, it probably won’t need as many nutrients as before. In fact, if you overfertilize your plant while it’s trying to rest, you’ll risk burning its roots and killing the plant. There’s little chance of recovery once the roots are burned.
Don’t go cold turkey, though! Sudden changes are not good for your houseplants, so it’s better to wean your Pilea off its fertilizing schedule gradually. You can start by increasing the time between fertilizing sessions or diluting the fertilizer that you give your plant starting at the end of summer.
4. Pay attention to air circulation
Throughout the cooler months, we tend to close our windows to keep the warm air in. However, this habit causes indoor air to become stale, and your plant won’t like that. As we’ve mentioned in this guide, one underrated factor that helps plants thrive is air circulation.
Open the window to allow your Pilea to get some fresh air, but don’t place your plant directly in front of an open window or in other drafty spots, such as doorways or hallways.
5. Keep an even temperature and humidity in your house
Your Pilea prefers temperatures between 60-75F. However, make sure that it gets this temperature evenly, and avoid placing your plants close to heating vents or other heat sources. Just as they don’t like cold drafts, houseplants don’t like hot drafts either, so keep them away from radiators, fireplaces, and fans.
Also, Pilea plants love humidity, while most of the time, our homes are on the dry side, particularly in the colder months. If your home environment gets too dry, you might see leaves drooping and becoming crispy and brittle. You can use a humidifier to maintain an even humidity throughout your rooms, or group plants together to create a more humid microzone in your home.
6. This is your last chance to repot
For a healthy plant, we recommend repotting in early spring or early summer. That’s because repotting promotes plant growth, and your Pilea will sprout new Pilea pups once it’s in fresh soil. This is not something that the plant should waste energy on before it slows down in the fall.
However, if you notice that your Pilea has become root bound, is drying out too quickly, or has visibly outgrown its current pot, you can still repot it in early fall. You can move your Pilea to a slightly larger container, but don’t overdo the upgrade. You don’t want the plant’s energy to be redirected to the roots either.
As you shift your habits to help your Pilea adjust to the fall season in your home, keep in mind this one rule: introduce changes gradually, and adjust accordingly. Often, sudden and drastic changes will shock your plant. Keep changes on the ‘slow and steady’ side, and your plants will be thriving come spring!