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Many times we take for granted that the air temperature is the same throughout our indoor space. One look at the thermostat and our assumptions are confirmed… Indoor temperatures are very often variable.
Indoor plants in their natural setting normally are greeted with short-term temperature swings – day verses night.
When introduced to the “alien” indoor growing environments of the nursery or interior they can face 4 different temperatures ranges – Cold, Cool, Warm and Hot.
Humans find the temperature range of 60 – 80 degrees comfortable. This follows the similar temperatures that are found in the tropical areas that most of our indoor plants are native to.
Although, temperature is seldom an issue with our indoor environment we must be aware of the subtle difference in temperatures throughout our indoor areas. Large rooms, hallways, and different exposures along with doors and windows can effect the temperature of your “microclimate”.
Cold temperature problems generally show up slowly – unless you’re an Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’ and hang out near the door with cold drafts. Office building sometimes have the temperature turned down on weekends and can cause chilling.
It can be difficult to know if your plants are being cold damaged. Plants that have cold damage often have downward curled leaves and/or mottling.
During the winter, we may only think of cold being a problem but in fact we can face heat problems as well. Heat from heating vents or people moving the shades to get as much direct light as possible can cause heat stress.
Leaves may turn yellow. The tips and edges can become dry, as well as spindly or stretched growth. Sometimes the only remedy for the cold and hot problem is simple:
Move the plant!!!
A Little Plant Science
Most tropicals “enjoy” a fluctuation in day-night temperatures.
I know from past experience the months of March-April and October- November are some of my favorite times of growing. These periods usually produce slow strong growth because of cooler night temperatures and less day light intensity.
The lower night temperatures translates into lower transpiration and less water loss.
Generally, try to eliminate wide swings in temperatures and monitor your plants for any changes that you may notice, both leaves and roots.
During the holiday season you should also keep one more item in mind.
Plants like water on the soil and roots. They are not to fond of that rare vintage wine or straight gin. People sometimes love to be courteous and empty their drinks in the soil or your plants. So don’t confuse cold or heat problems with alcohol damage.