Fall and winter have arrived with a vengeance. The days are growing shorter and the mercury is dipping. It’s time to dress warm, turn up the thermostat, build a fire, snuggle with warm blankets, and grab a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. However, what about your plants? How do you keep indoor plants healthy over winter? In this article, we will explore the answers to that question
Some plants are very temperamental when it comes to cold air. Even though your plants seem safe in your home from the inclement weather, they can still be susceptible to a chill. Plants placed in front of windows or near doors can experience a bone-chilling draft. If you have leaky windowsills or gaps around your exterior door then you’ll want to move your plants to areas of the home where they do not experience bursts of cold air. However, always remember that your plants still need sunlight so try to pick a location of the home where they get the required light to survive.
Heat exposure in the home during the winter months is a significant problem. You need to warm your living space with fireplaces, central heating systems, and radiators. The blasts of hot air are just as dangerous as cold air to your plants. Ideally, you will want to keep the air around your plants at a steady temperature that ranges from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius), and at night the temperature can drop to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
Even if your plants are indoors, they still have an internal clock, and most will go dormant in the fall and winter months. They need extraordinarily little light and no longer continue to actively grow. The reduced growth means that your plants won’t have the water needs that they typically do in the spring and summer months. They also do not require a fertilizer supplement.
Only water indoor plants during the winter when the soil feels dry. Stick your finger about an inch or two into the soil. If it is dry, then you add water but if it feels most then abstain from watering. If your plant is dormant then wet soil can quickly lead to fungus, root rot, mold, and other problems. If the leaves of the plant start to turn yellow or the soil becomes moldy then you must reduce the watering frequency. A good rule of thumb is to water once a week and reduce the amount of water that you provide to the plants by 25 to 50 percent.
In the cold months, the humidity starts to dip. Most plants prefer a humidity level of 50 to 60 percent so you will want to run a humidifier if you have one to increase the humidity in your home. This is especially true if you use wood heat which can quickly sap out all of the moisture from the air leaving it extremely dry You can also cluster your plants together in a single room to increase the humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens are great rooms to place your houseplants. Another option is to place your houseplants on a large tray or baking sheet which has been filled with water. Set the plants on top of tiny pebbles so they are not touching the water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant substantially.
In the winter months, the days grow shorter and the sun is further away, so sunlight is at a premium. You’ll want your plants to be able to take full advantage of the sunlight. Keep the surface of the foliage clean of dust and degree. Your plant can better absorb the sun’s UV rays when the foliage is clean. You can either wipe the foliage clean with a soft washcloth or place them in the bathtub or sink to hose off the water. Clean leaves can more effectively photosynthesize the available light to stay healthy.
During the winter months, plants need lots of light. You’ll want to try to rotate the plant’s pot so all sides of the plant receive adequate light, or the plant could start leaning or even dropping its leaves. With the limited sunlight, you’ll need to either put the plant near the window or provide supplemental lighting. If the window is too drafty then it might be best to invest in a full spectrum lightbulb. You can put the lightbulb in a simple lamp and then shine it on your plants. Leave the light on for 12 to 14 hours every day to provide adequate lights.
You might mistakenly believe that pests are not a problem during the winter months, but this is a misnomer. Pests can invade your home in search of warmth and food (your house plants). Stay vigilant for signs of mites and other problems. If your plants have pests then promptly treat the situation. During the winter, your plants are susceptible to a pest attack because they are weaker than usual so prompt treatment is imperative.
Winter is not a good time to repot your plant. Root growth is slow/nonexistent during the winter months so the soil in a large pot will stay moist around the plant’s roots if you opt to repot. This can quickly lead to mold, root rot, and other problems. Ideally, you should wait until the spring to repot your plant. However, pruning in the winter is ideal. Cut back any yellow or brown leaves and don’t be afraid to trim your plants so they don’t appear leggy.
Following the above tips will keep indoor plants healthy over winter and reduce their level of stress. You want your plants to rest and rejuvenate so when spring arrives, they are ready to flourish.