Resting House Plants

Normally people take two kinds of rest period. A daily one which we call sleep, and a seasonal one, usually in the summer, which we know as our annual holiday. In many ways, but with some exceptions, plants parallel these rest periods, though their annual holiday will usually be timed to meet grey wintery skies.

plants-need-restDuring sleep our metabolic rate eases, our breathing slows and we neither eat nor drink. At night the light which the leaves use in converting nutrients into plant food is largely absent. The leaves demand less nutrition from the roots which reduce the rate at which they absorb the soil solution containing the nutrients. The metabolic rate of the plant has slowed down. Some plants close their leaves or fold their leaves during the daily rest period. This prevents chilling from evaporation. Bedclothes could be said to have a similar effect.

Different plants utilize their seasonal rest period in different ways but some parallels still exist. During our annual holiday we do eat and drink. We also relax and slow down. The adrenal glands are given less exercise and our ‘batteries are re-charged’.

Many house plants are evergreen; during their rest period they behave in a way comparable to people. Growth slows substantially, allowing the plant to ‘take it easy’. Reduced growth results in a lessened demand for nutrients from the soil solution, less light is needed for the making of plant food, and less water is needed to provide adequate soil solution.

Dull winter skies usually result in a reduction in light so inhibiting growth. The roots reduce their intake of soil solution. If at this time excessive water is given the roots will not absorb it and it will lie around them, causing them to drown or rot.

Deciduous plants which shed their leaves become dormant for a period and can be likened to a hibernating animal. The animal’s metabolic rate reduces, its breathing slows and it neither eats nor drinks. Its energy consumption is minimal. If you filled its hibernation burrow with food and water it would suffocate or drown.

Your deciduous house plant will react in a similar way. It is not consuming energy nor food or water because growth is suspended. All that it needs are rest, a modicum of humidity and a life sustaining temperature. If you feed and water it during its rest period its roots will suffocate or drown.

The rest periods of different plants varies and information about these periods will be found elsewhere in the text. A shortened or prolonged rest period will not result in ‘Making it Spectacular’, but it is unlikely to be lethal. To attempt to keep the plant ‘going’ when it wants to rest almost certainly will be lethal! Again we are brought back to ‘Plant-Think’. Imagine the result of having food pushed into your mouth whilst in a deep sleep. Think of the effect of being forced to sustain ‘Rat-race’ pace whilst on holiday.

If you can feed and water your plants before mid-day, and if you allow them a seasonal rest when they need it, you are well on the way to ‘Making them Spectacular’.

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