This month, we are featuring a series of articles that will teach you how to navigate the basics of plant parenthood. This week, we’ll be discussing temperature.
What is temperature and why is it important to plants?
Sure, it sounds obvious. Temperature is the measure of heat present in a substance or object. But just so we’re clear, when we talk about plants, we are referring to air temperature.
Nearly all house plants will thrive in a home that is kept in the temperature range of 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Most will even grow quite well in rooms too cool for most human comfort, such as cacti or succulents and some flowering and foliage species. Others prefer warmth, and with that warmth, must come moisture. See our articles on how you can provide moisture (hint: humidity) for your warmth-loving plants.
What is the ideal temperature for house plants?
There actually is no true “ideal” temperature for house plants, as long as they are kept within the 55-75 Fahrenheit degree range. The real danger to house plants is temperature fluctuation.
As a general rule, most plants appreciate a drop of about 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit at night but a sudden drop of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more is seriously damaging and often fatal.
What can I do to provide warmth for my plants that need it?
In order to minimize night temperature drops, especially in winter, seal window cracks and move pots off windowsills. Cacti and succulents are an exception - in their desert home they are adapted to hot days and cold nights, so they don’t mind the fluctuations in a centrally-heated home.
How do I know I have the right temperature for my plants?
Your plants will tell you if they don’t have the right temperature. Here are some warning signs:
Too cold: Leaf curl, followed by browning and leaf fall.
Too warm: Lower leaves wilt, edges turn brown and/or fall. Flowers are short-lived. Spindly growth in good light in winter or early spring.
Sudden change in temperature: Leaf fall after rapid yellowing.