What is plant rest? (And 7 Tips for Caring for Dormant Plants) – ISPUZZLE

You know that feeling in autumn and winter when you want to go out, stay home and relax for a long time? Plants go through a similar experience known as plant dormancy. Your favorite plants may look a little rough around the edges, but this period of rest during the plant’s dormant period will help prepare them for a growing season.

What is plant rest? Plant dormancy is simply a period of metabolic rest or inactivity that most plants go through to conserve resources, survive extreme weather and stresses such as winter or drought, and prepare for the next growing season.

Read on to learn more about plant dormancy and how to feed and care for them during this time.


What is plant rest?

Plant dormancy is a phase of the plant’s growing season when it slows down and begins to rest. Dormancy can also protect the plant from adverse conditions such as cold winter temperatures and extreme stresses such as drought.

For example, deciduous trees shed their soft leaves in the fall, allowing tough bark and wood to survive the cold and snow. The tree’s metabolic processes have largely stopped and the tree does not grow or reproduce until spring returns and warmer weather. The tree then sprouts new leaves, allowing the sun to nourish it so it can grow and reproduce.

Dormancy can be caused by shorter days and therefore less daylight, or cooler temperatures, or both, depending on the plant. Dormancy can also be caused by extreme heat or drought, which places the plant in a state of dormancy until more favorable growing conditions exist.

Houseplants kept in relatively stable conditions at home may need a little nudge to fall asleep, so you may need to move them to a cooler, darker area of ​​the house.

For example, plants like Christmas cacti and poinsettias need a period of rest to bloom again. They need cooler temperatures, less water and long dark nights to rest before the flowering phase. Once they are dormant long enough to recharge their batteries, they will begin to sprout and can be returned to their normal location to bloom again.

Watch this helpful video explaining plant dormancy by Betsy Begonia


What impact does plant dormancy have on plant growth and life cycle?

Almost all plants go dormant for the winter, whether they are indoor or outdoor tropical plants. The exception is annuals, which die each year but do not regrow in the spring. Annuals are only good for one season.

Outdoor plants go dormant to conserve resources and avoid frost. The delicate leaves would freeze easily in the cold, so the deciduous trees shed those leaves, conserving their resources to feed plant or tree roots and preparing for all the new leaves to sprout in the spring.

Indoor plants also fall asleep, even if the temperature in your home is stable. Even houseplants are sensitive to shorter days and less light. This means they don’t get enough hours of sunlight for photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy for the plant to grow and reproduce. Instead, metabolic processes slow down, the plant stops reproducing, and growth stops or slows down a lot.

remains of plants

Why do some plants have a dormant period?

Although the plants look like they are dying or hanging in their sleep, they are still working hard. Plants break down and replenish proteins to prepare them for the growth spurt they experience in the spring. Outdoor plants and trees also conserve energy to nourish plant roots.

If the plant does not go to sleep or rest, it may not have the resources to grow, flower and reproduce in the spring.

What happens to plants when they go dormant?

Houseplants can seem to stop growing when they enter a dormant period, almost as if someone has pressed the grow pause button. Their leaves may turn yellow, drop a little, or lose their leaves altogether.

Plants stop flowering and reproduce. They absorb less water and you will notice that the soil stays moist longer. All of these planting behaviors give the plant a break and allow it to rest and recharge for another growing season.

Outdoor plants, like spring flowers that grow from bulbs (think daffodils and tulips) will die, leaving only the bulb underground. The bulb stores energy for new growth and flowering in the spring. If the plants weren’t dormant, the bulbs wouldn’t be able to store enough energy to bloom the following year.

Deciduous trees will lose their leaves and may appear dead, while conifers will retain their needles, but their growth will slow dramatically or stop altogether. This protects them from cold and weather damage.

How do you know if your plant is dormant or dying?

You can tell if your plant is dormant or dying by performing three simple tests.

  • Quick test. You can tell if a plant is dead or dormant by performing a quick test. Choose the end of a stem or branch the size of a pencil. Try to break the branch in half. A dead branch or stem breaks easily and looks dry inside. However, a dormant branch will bend and when it opens, the wet wood will be exposed inside.
  • The scratch test. You can also use the scratch test to see if your plant is dormant or dying. Choose a young stem and use your fingernail or a sharp knife to scrape off the bark. If there is green, the plant is still alive. If brown, try again, but close to the roots.
  • Root inspection. The final test you can try to see if your plant is dead or dormant is inspecting the roots. A dormant plant has healthy roots, even if the rest of the plant still looks dead. You can take the plant out of the pot and see if the roots look healthy or if they are shriveled and dead.
remains of plants

How does plant dormancy affect their care needs?

During the winter dormancy phase of your plant, it will either stop growing completely or it will grow very slowly. This also changes the need for care.

  • Less water. Overwatering is a common cause of plant death., and this is especially true during the winter months. Because your plant’s metabolic processes are slowing down, it won’t use as much water as it did when growing. You don’t need to water your plant as often as it does during the growth phase.
  • Dried plum. Hibernation is a good time to prune old, woody growth from houseplants. Cut off buds, dead leaves and branches and other unwanted plant parts.
  • Change the soil or replant. Over time, the soil in your houseplant pot will wear out and need to be replaced. The winter break is a good time to transplant the plant possibly in a larger pot with fresh soil. It will be less stressed during this time and will then be ready for spring growth when the time is right.
  • Do not fertilize. Your plants do not need additional fertilizer when they are dormant. It is best to wait to see signs of growth in late winter and early spring.
  • Increase humidity if necessary. In most homes, the humidity drops in the winter when the heating is on or the wood stoves are on. You may need to increase the humidity. a little for plants that prefer a very humid environment. You can do this easily by placing the plant in a container with pebbles and filling it with water.
  • Keep them clean. Dust buildup on leaves can reduce the already limited amount of light available to your plants. Take a moment to gently clean them.
  • Keep them away from drafts. Even though they are dormant, your tropical houseplants are still susceptible to cold drafts. Keep them away from cold windows and doors.

Watch for signs of new growth

As spring approaches, the days get longer and it’s a good sign that your plant is starting to grow again. As your plant transitions from a resting phase to a growing phase, you will begin to see signs of growth on your plant. When you start to see buds, small shoots, or new flowers and branches, you can water and fertilize the plant as usual. It will need a boost to get it ready again for spring growth.

Leave a Comment