What Does Microclimate Mean?

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Every room can accommodate at least one plant. House plants need not have the restriction of windowsills. They can be put on shelves, the floor, kitchen worktops, desks or side tables. Perhaps hung from the ceiling or staircases or fixed to the walls.

Each room in the house will have its own micro climate. That can be suitable to grow a wide range of plants within a single home. However, what does micro climate mean? These plants are often those that would not generally suit being grown in that region. For example, in a city house in Edinburgh, it is possible to produce exotic tropical plants. They would have no hope of surviving the cold Scottish winters outdoors.

What is a Micro Climate?

What is a Micro Climate?

Climate describes the general attributes of the long-term weather patterns within a country, region or city. A micro climate describes the conditions within a much smaller area. That could be a room or even a single corner of that room. You can create different micro climates in a house by using variations in light and shade, humidity and warmth. For example, a steamy bathroom with south-facing, double-glazed windows. If it has an extractor fan that doesn’t work very well, it would have a humid, warm atmosphere. A spare bedroom with north-facing single-glazed windows could have a small radiator. If that is set to low, it would have a generally cool, if not cold, shady atmosphere; unless guests were staying, in which case the micro climate would change to being much warmer.

A Plant for Every Situation

It is always better to avoid wasting money, time and love on an unsuitable plant. Assess the various micro climates within each room and use this information to display suitable plants; lush exotic jungles in humid places, cacti and desert plants for sunny windowsills, ferns for shady spots. Avoid buying a plant first and putting it in a spot that simply has the wrong conditions for it. Use the plant files on this website for inspiration on useful plants for different situations.

What Does Micro Climate Mean?

Things to Watch Out For

Every home will have varying temperatures through the seasons. By and large, these are things that will not affect the growth and health of houseplants. Sudden and severe changes and extreme conditions, however, are what to avoid and be aware of.


Although a plant may appear to be in a warm spot, if it is in the way of chilling and drying draughts, it will suffer. Obviously, doors and windows are the main culprits, but air bricks can also create a cold breeze. Don’t forget that a draught can carry a long way down a hallway.

Landscaping Ideas

Central Heating

Overall, central heating can have a drying effect. In warm rooms, some plants may need a light misting to retain sufficient humidity around their leaves. Avoid placing leafy plants near or above radiators as they may dry out excessively in the hot air around them, causing brown, crispy foliage.

Snow Globe Micro Climate


On the face of it, the ideal spot for a houseplant is a windowsill, but be aware, again, of extreme temperatures. Plants can be scorched easily on a sunny day, especially on leaves that are very close to, or touching, the glass. Temperature changes can also be more dramatic on a windowsill – it can get sweltering when the sun is out but dramatically colder at night (especially with single glazing).

Draughty windows and frequent opening and closing of blinds or curtains can cause further problems, as it can be easy to knock and damage a plant. Pets who enjoy looking out the window can also injure houseplants as they seek their own space on the windowsill.


This is the name given to the phenomenon whereby a plant will lean towards the most reliable light source. Over time, it can lead to all the leaf growth protruding from one side of the plant, creating an uneven appearance. Rotating plants regularly will ensure even, upright growth.

Uneven Leaves Micro Climate

Dampness and Humidity

If suitable plants are chosen, damp rooms should not cause too many problems. However, ensure that you remove dead foliage and other detritus promptly to avoid grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) and other fungal diseases.

Temperature Variations

Plants will suffer when kept in a room that is generally kept cool but then suddenly receives heat, such as a guest bedroom. Similarly, plants can become damaged when left in an unheated house while the owner is on holiday (see more about this here). Mitigate these problems by temporarily moving plants to another location that is closer in temperature to their usual spot.

Standard Cotinus Royal Purple: Smoke Bush Tree

As a change to this discussion on micro climates when growing indoors, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite small trees.

The beautiful Royal Purple Smoke Bush is now available as a Patio Standard tree! Perfect for keeping shaped as a centrepiece to any planter or even in the garden border, this tree comes with an approx 70cms clear stem, topped off with branches and foliage which will fill out year-on-year. Simply give excessive growth an occasional trim to maintain and develop a rounded head of foliage of magnificent, dark red-purple leaves. In Autumn, these will turn vivid scarlet-red, but before this in summer, fluffy, smoke-like plumes of purplish-pink flowers will appear, hence the name Purple Smoke Tree!

This purple-leaved smoke tree will make an eye-catching specimen plant in a sunny mixed border, or when used in a large planter. The clear stem means it can be under planted with other contrasting plants to provide a foil for the rich purple foliage. Perhaps some silver foliage such as Calocephalus would suit?

Smoke Bush Tree

Click here for your very own Smoke Bush Tree!

Cultivation is best in dry, infertile soils, which keeps the growth habit more compact and also improves the autumn colour; when planted in fertile soil, they become large, coarse and also tend to be short-lived, succumbing to verticillium wilt disease.

Supplied as an established young tree in approx three-litre containers at around a metre tall total height.

Enjoy your Smoke Tree!

Feeding Plants in Your Micro Climate

A plant given sufficient light, water and carbon dioxide will survive, but for it to thrive it also needs nutrients; much like humans need a range of vitamins and minerals, which ensure the various and complex physiological processes work effectively. For house plants, the gardener must provide these nutrients, but fortunately, this is a relatively simple task. Follow this guide to feeding small indoor plants.

The Big Three

The significant three nutrients a plant needs are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, represented on a bottle of fertiliser by the letters N, P and K, respectively (the Latin, scientific name for potassium is kalium).

Nitrogen is necessary for the production of cells and for the growth of leaves and shoots (yellowing leaves are a classic sign of nitrogen deficiency).

Phosphorus is a requirement for healthy root growth.

Potassium ensures good flower and fruit production.

On top of these, there are a range of micronutrients, such as magnesium, boron and iron, which are necessary in tiny quantities but play essential roles in cell production and photosynthesis.

When to Fertilise

Plants bought from a garden centre or nursery will be in compost that has all the necessary fertiliser mixed into it. Still, the plant will exhaust this supply after around six months. After that, it will be required to apply fertiliser to maintain adequate nutrient levels. The myriad options available can be confusing, but the deciding factor is how long the fertiliser takes to release its nutrients.

The fastest-acting are the liquid fertilisers because the nutrients can most easily be taken up by the plant. These can be applied as a spray over the foliage or, more commonly and efficiently, as a concentrate that is then diluted and watered on. Liquid fertilisers need to be applied regularly throughout the growing season, according to the instructions on the packet.

Slower or (more accurately) controlled-release fertilisers come as granules or small composite plugs of beads that are mixed with the soil surface or pushed into the pot, respectively. They are designed to break down over weeks or months (again, check the packet for dosing instructions and longevity), releasing the nutrients inside as they go. However, the plugs do not always break down effectively, especially in soils that are kept on the dry side (such as with arid plants).

In general, fertilising is only necessary in the growing season, but specifics are listed with each plant in my Plant Files section.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

If you want an easy to care for indoor plant, but something unusual which is sure to be a talking point, why not consider a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree? This is actually one of the rarest house plants in the world, and is stunning to look at! 

Micro Climate Fig Tree

Buy your own Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree here!

You can actually play a part in conserving this plant for the future and have the pleasure of owning something very few people have seen. There is apparently only one of these plants still growing in the wild, with others being destroyed by hurricanes. 

Take a look at my sales page for recommended products at the best price!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

14 thoughts on “What Does Microclimate Mean?”

  1. Hello Diane, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I heard about microclimate from my friend who is a gardener but honestly, I did not know what it is exactly about. I am glad you explained it in detail as my wife and I plan to grow some plants in our living room as now winter is coming. I will definitely share this with my wife, she also doesn’t know anything about microclimate.

    • Hi – thank you for visiting my site and reading this article. I am pleased you found it to be useful, and hope you and your wife have success with your indoor plants. All the best, Diane

  2. I really liked your post on Micro Climates in the home. I didn’t even realize that so many variables in the home could make an impact as much as they can. I have several Pothos plants (sometimes called House Ivy I think..) and I was wondering if you could tell me about what kind of microclimate I should try to create for my Pothos..es? Thanks I appreciate any advice you can offer, have a good one.

    • Hi – thank you for reading my article and asking a question. You will be pleased to know that Pothos are very easy to look after, and can thrive in any type of micro climate. They make a great addition to your bathroom, as they can tolerate low lighting conditions. All the best, Diane

  3. Very well explained about micro climate. I never know there are so many aspects to look out for when growing plants indoors. I often wonder why my indoor plants do not thrive as beautiful and lush. Now I know – I am guilty of not feeding my plants properly. The breakdown of nutrients is very helpful. Thank you so much for all the information. Happy Gardening!

    • Hi – thank you for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment. I am glad you found it helpful, and hopefully you will have more success with your indoor plants. All the best, Diane

  4. Thanks for this great article admin about micro climate it has been really interesting from its beginning to its end because I have got to know what’s micro climate is all about, which types of plants to grow in different micro climates which is amazing and I have also fall in love with the purple leaved smoke bush tree. Thanks very much for the article. 

    • Hi – thank you for reading my article. I am pleased you learnt something new, and I hope you purchase the smoke bush tree, its a gorgeous plant. All the best, Diane 

  5. A plant given sufficient light, water and carbon dioxide will survive, but for it to thrive it also needs nutrients and these are; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. As for nitrogen is for production, phosphorus is for healthy root growth and potassium is for good flower and fruit production. As to us Humans we need sufficient food, shelter clothes and water to survive, but to prosper we need knowledge, wisdom and life for proper living and success. Thank you for sharing this post I’m waiting to hear from you.

  6. I never realized there were micro climates in the house. It makes sense because of temperatures and dryness and humidity.
    And each plant has a variety of different needs so you must be careful.
    Giving your plants the proper food is also vital to its survival. I would much rather have indoor plants because of the heat in Florida.
    I don’t have to be concerned about drafts but do have to be careful about the extreme heat from the sun.
    Now that I am aware of the micro climates, would might be the best plants to have indoors?

    • Hi – thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. To be honest, as I am based in the UK, I am not aware of which plants might be best for growing indoors in Florida. Perhaps you have a local garden centre nearby, with staff who would be pleased to help you with this question. I hope you find what you are looking for. All the best, Diane 

  7. Thank you for such an informative post. This is the first time that I heard of the term, Micro climate. I am surprised to find that I already start doing it. Currently, I have a snake tongue potted plant in my bedroom. Someone told me that it will give me more oxygen and I will have a better sleep. I will check out the fiddle leaf fig tree, this will be perfect for my living room and I just love that it is easy to maintain 🙂

    • Hi – thank you for reading my article and leaving a comment. That’s great that you have a plant in your bedroom already. I hope you consider buying the fig tree, its a gorgeous plant. All the best, Diane


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