Even though houseplants are in an environment you can control by adjusting the temperature, water frequency, and nutrients, they still detect changes in their surroundings. It’s noticeable when your houseplants enter their resting state and stop growing and blooming. As you care for them while they’re dormant, you may wonder how soon they’ll be back to their lively, beautiful, blooming selves again.
Houseplants will come out of dormancy in the spring once they recognize their surroundings have improved and more sunlight is available. The temperature begins to warm up, and the humidity levels rise in the spring. These changes encourage plants to start growing and producing once again.
This article will explore why houseplants go dormant and how they know to come out of dormancy. It will also outline how to care for your houseplants after waking from their rest.
Why Houseplants Go Into a State of Dormancy
Knowing what makes houseplants go into dormancy or a resting state will give you an understanding of how and when they will come out of their resting period.
All plants are genetically wired to detect changes in their environment. Seasons play an important role in plants entering and coming out of dormancy. When seasons change, so will the sunlight and your indoor environment. In turn, your houseplants will adapt with growth or dormancy, depending on the conditions.
Available Sunlight Affects Dormancy Periods
Sunlight is crucial to plant photosynthesis; houseplants need a certain number of hours of light energy to continue growing, flowering, and being happy. Photosynthesis is when plants absorb solar energy and break down macronutrients to create chemical energy. The nutrients are then dispersed throughout the stem and leaves.
So, when the days lack enough sunlight for them to thrive, your houseplants can only produce enough energy to sustain themselves.
In most cases, the dormant period houseplants go through isn’t the same as outdoor plants. Outdoor plants are exposed to cold and freezing temperatures, which activate certain genetics to induce full dormancy.
Season and Environmental Changes
Plants are built to adapt to their surroundings when change is gradual. This phenomenon is known as photoperiodism, which is the response to daylight changes allowing plants to adapt to the seasonal changes. Even with an early or late fall, your houseplants will be able to adapt because of the temperature and humidity change as well.
For the months of fall, your houseplants are feeling a shift in air moisture levels and the lessening of sunlight. As mentioned above, plants need an ample amount of sunlight to go through photosynthesis and create the energy necessary to produce healthy growth and blooms. Since fall transitions into cooler temperatures and longer nights, your houseplants will stop producing flowers and begin to slow their growth.
During winter, dormancy is induced as the darkness reaches its peak in length and the air conditions become dryer from heating your home. Houseplants do not have enough resources to continuously convert enough energy for growth with the bit of sunlight they receive. In turn, they will live off stored energy to survive the winter months.
How and When Houseplants Know to Come Out of Dormancy
Spring provides warmer temperatures, increased humidity, and sufficient sunlight to help your plants flourish, flower, and reproduce. These changes to their environment will break the dormant state, and the plants will begin to produce new growth.
Once they break dormancy, your houseplants will absorb more water and nutrients as they experience a growth spurt during these improved growing conditions.
Spring and summer months provide your houseplants with the right conditions to thrive, given you keep up with their routine care.
Longer Days With More Sunlight
After the winter solstice, the amount of sunlight slowly increases each day.
This is crucial because your houseplants need increased sunlight exposure and frequent watering to convert the macronutrients into chemical energy for new growth stimulation.
Foliage plants need about 14 to 16 hours, while flowering plants need about 12 to 16 hours of sunlight daily. As spring transitions into summer, it comes closer to the summer solstice, when your plants will receive up to 15 hours of daylight, depending on where you live.
Because your houseplants sense changes in their environment, they will adapt if spring comes earlier or later than usual.
Rising Temperatures and Humidity
As the outside rainfall increases, watering your lovely outdoor plants, there’s more humidity in the atmosphere. The humidity levels indoors also increase, since warmer temperatures mean you won’t need to heat your home to stay warm. This allows your houseplants to absorb more moisture with their leaves during photosynthesis and respiration.
Most houseplants require at least 60% humidity in their atmosphere, while others only need about 35% humidity. Each plant contains 100% humidity in itself from the water uptake in the root system and by using their leaves to absorb moisture in the air.
During transpiration, the excess water and oxygen plants contain are evaporated back into the atmosphere through pores in their leaves. Because plants contain a lot of water, having several houseplants grouped together will create a more humid atmosphere for them to enjoy.
Caring for Houseplants Coming Out of Dormancy
Once springtime approaches, your houseplants will begin to wake and become highly active with new growth. You’ll want to pick up your growing season care routine during this time.
This care should include the following tasks, among others:
- Increased watering
- Repotting (if necessary)
- Pruning and reshaping
There will likely be a growth spurt after their resting state, so be prepared.
Spring is the best time to repot your houseplants to ensure they have enough nutrients to burst out beautiful greenery and colorful blooms. Providing your houseplants with a pot full of fresh, nutrient-rich soil will encourage healthy development during this time. If you repot your houseplants for spring, wait at least six weeks (depending on your potting soil) before adding fertilizer.
Repotting your houseplants also allows you to check the root system’s health. If your roots are reaching out of the current pot or creating a thick layer along the wall of the pot, your plant is root-bound, and it’s time to bump up the pot size. Loosen the roots gently to encourage root growth and place your plant in new potting soil in a larger pot.
If you continue allowing your root-bound plant to stay in its current pot, you risk the root system suffering and causing your plant’s health to decline from outgrowing it.
Increase the Watering Frequency
With the sunlight increasing during the days of spring into the beginning of summer, your plants are absorbing more hours of daylight. The warmer temperatures create higher humidity levels for your houseplants’ leaves to absorb for feeding and cooling. Because your plants have increased growth during this time, they will need to replace that energy by absorbing more nutrients.
As they increase their water uptake to convert the nutrients into energy, you’ll need to water your houseplants more frequently. The frequency of watering depends on your houseplants as individuals. Some houseplants require watering more frequently than others, even during the growing season.
Pruning and Reshaping
Spring is an excellent time for this chore; your plants will recover faster with the increased amount of sunlight and better growing conditions. You can finally fix those long, leggy houseplants and trim off all the brown and yellow leaves. When you prune and reshape your houseplants, it allows room for new growth in all the right places.
Relocating for Healthier Exposure
You may have moved your houseplants during the fall or winter to keep them away from drafts or give them more sun. Now it’s time to move them back to an area suitable for their needs. Remember, more sun is available, so you don’t want to scorch any of your plants if you had moved them closer to the window for the limited winter sun.
Rotating Your Houseplants
The rate of growth jumps when houseplants come out of their resting state. Ensure all parts of your plants receive the increasing amount of sunlight that’s available during the spring. Rotate your houseplants each watering or at least check them to see if they require turning.
This will also allow you to correct any bare sides or awkward leaning your plants may have experienced during the fall and winter months.
Give Your Plants a Good Dusting
Even if you completed this chore during the winter months, it’s a good idea to dust off the leaves of your houseplants when they’re waking from dormancy. Because plants use their leaves to breathe, take in the sun’s rays, and absorb the air’s moisture, they need to be clear of debris.
When your plants’ pores are clogged by caked-up dust, it makes it a little difficult for them to breathe, soak up the sun, and release excess water and oxygen.
Dusting your houseplants’ foliage is easy maintenance—all you need to do is use a wet paper towel or rag and gently wipe the dust off the leaves. If you have a shower head with a hose, you can easily give the leaves a gentle bath instead. Just make sure you don’t over-water the soil.
If you’ve stored spring bulbs, such as daffodils, in the refrigerator to induce complete dormancy, take them out after at least eight weeks of being chilled.
You’ll need to place them in a cool, low-lit location to allow them to acclimate to warmer temperatures and sunlight, so they don’t become stressed. Within a few weeks, they will come out of dormancy and begin to awaken.
As the bulbs awaken from dormancy, you’ll see new root growth and new shoots forming with blooms soon to come.
As seasons and the surrounding environment change, your houseplants react to conserve energy, break the resting period, and begin growing again. The essential factors for optimal growing conditions for your houseplants include enough daily sunlight, warmer temperatures, and more humidity for their leaves to absorb.
Once your houseplants come out of dormancy, you should begin to water them more often and resume routine care that is essential for your plants to remain healthy during the growing and blooming seasons.