In autumn and winter, the sun becomes scarce, the day gets shorter and shorter, and temperatures drop. Such conditions greatly weaken potted plants, which become fragile and susceptible to diseases and pest invasions. We suggest what to watch out for when caring for plants in autumn and winter, and how to deal with crises that may happen to them. 

Fungal diseases 

In autumn and winter, the vegetation of plants slows down, making them need much less water, so they take less water from the ground. For this reason, it is much easier to overwater a plant in the cold months. In damp soil, not only can the roots begin to rot, but also a fungal disease can attack them. It can manifest itself in the root system or on the leaves in the form of yellow and brown spots. The development of fungal diseases is favored primarily by high humidity of the substrate, but also by drafts and frequent temperature fluctuations. So avoid putting plants in the aisle, near the front door or balcony doors. You can combat the fungal disease by performing a fungicidal spray and watering the plant with a special preparation. 

Infection of roots with fertilizer 

When vegetation slows down, plants not only need less water, but also fewer nutrients. During autumn and winter, limit plant fertilization to half the dose recommended by the manufacturer or fertilize half as often. Fertilizer stimulates plants to grow, but with too little light they can begin to stretch out and lose their habit and dwarf. Another danger is burning the roots with too much fertilizer, as excess minerals in the soil damage the plants’ root system. 

Spider mite attack 

The autumn period is the reign of spider mites. These small, inconspicuous worms can very seriously harm the plant. You can recognize their presence by the curling of leaves, the appearance of yellow spots and the browning of leaf edges. The most distinctive identifying feature of the spider mite is the fine, thin web they leave both on the underside of the leaves and on the petioles. A home remedy for spider mites is to wash parts of the plant above the ground with a soft cloth and a solution of water and gray soap. 

Thrips attack 

Thrips are small, black insects, otherwise known as commas. They feed on the sap and tissues of the plant, so they cause spots and mechanical damage on the surface of the leaves. Getting rid of them is not as difficult as other pests. Thrips very much dislike moisture, so you can wipe the infested plant with a damp cloth to chase them away. You can also make a spray with water infused with a clove of garlic. 

Woolly pest attack 

Woollies are small, white insects covered with fluffy “fur” (hence their name). It is best to start the fight against mealybugs as soon as possible and get rid of the individuals by hand. With a small infestation on one plant, it is easy to catch and remove individuals. For more serious problems you will need spirit and cotton buds. Use the soaked sticks to rub the feeding areas of the mealybugs. In this way you will get rid of both adult individuals and eggs. 

main photo: Spratt

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Angelina Schultz

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