Leaf problems: struggling with hot flats and cold water

This week has been a bad week for my houseplants. Over the weekend, I left my radiator on '4' in an already balmy, well-insulated London flat while I was off enjoying the sights of Liverpool. Cue, a lot of floppy succulents and a crispy peacock plant.

This winter, working out when to water my plants (and when not to) has been pretty traumatic. This is the first time I've lived in a flat that has working central heating and while that's great for keeping me warm at night, ensuring my houseplants happy has been more difficult. I'm not used to watering my succulents at all in the colder weather, but this year it's been a guessing game trying to work out if leaving them any longer without moisture might cause permanent damage. I've seen wrinkled leaves on my jade plant, my sedum adophii and even my normally resilient moonstones plant. My elephant's bush, already a tricky customer, has lost all but about four leaves in its quest to keep hydrated. Ignoring all advice from books, google and instagram, I've been water once every two weeks in an attempt to stop carnage on my window sill. The dry season doesn't exist in Peckham.


Even the moonstones have struggled to keep hydrated this winter. 

And central heating droughts are not the only water problem I've faced. This weekend, I identified a reason for the browning, crispy leaves of my peacock plant. Convinced for a few months that the plant just needed more misting and more watering, my daily aqua extravaganza was leading nowhere. The leaves were still browning in spots while the rest of the plant seemed largely healthy.

Cue a lot of googling and I think I've finally found the answer: my tap water is too cold. All my misting would only be making the brown spots worse because I've been using filtered water straight out the fridge. According to multiple google scholars, that cold water is burning the leaves and causing the brown spots. So now, I'm leaving water out to warm up to room temperature (even if that's a million degrees in this overly-hot flat) before I mist. Fingers crossed my peacock plant will start to look more healthy in the weeks to come.

This Ficus has also been drying out every few days. It's a struggle to remember to keep watering it. 
It's occurred to me that leaves are probably the best indication of when things are going wrong with your plants. I've had a few friends ask me what they can do to help their plants because the leaves are X, Y and Z. This list on the RHS website gives just a small flavour of everything leaves might be telling you should be changed about a plant's care.