Your houseplants may be warm and cozy inside, but they still know it’s winter. Their outdoor cousins have already become dormant, slowing their growth and focusing on conserving their energy until the longer days and warmer temperatures of spring encourage them to emerge. Your houseplants may be safe from the elements, but they will still shift into cold-weather survival mode. Don’t panic when they start shedding leaves or seem to be declining.
Here are some helpful winter tips to care for your indoor plants:
1. Give Houseplants the Light They Need
Colder weather means shorter days, and even indoor plants feel the strain of less exposure to natural light. Giving them the light they need during winter is important, and can be as simple as using a full-spectrum bulb in a lamp nearby or using a grow-light to give them a little extra boost of “sun.”
2. Give Them a Boost of Humidity
Your furnace keeps you warm and comfortable but forced air systems will drastically lower humidity levels. Houseplants thrive on proper amounts of humidity, so a humidifier may be necessary to ensure the moisture levels are optimal for their health.
3. Remove Them from Direct Heat Sources
While most houseplants thrive in warmer temperatures, they don’t do very well when placed near heat sources. Make sure you have them distanced from portable heaters, heat vents, and fireplaces or wood stoves.
4. Pests Don’t Take Winter Vacations
Your warm and cozy house is an invitation for pests to move in, or for dormant pests to spring back to life. Mites, ants, aphids, fungus gnats, and other common pests may still be a problem for houseplants. Inspect your plants for signs of these pests such as leaves that appear dry, yellowed, or curled, and plants that are declining despite proper care.
5. Don’t Transplant in the Winter
Transplanting houseplants can cause them stress. Since most houseplants don’t grow as quickly in the winter, repotting them is usually not necessary. Wait until spring brings them back to life before transplanting them.
6. Expose Your Plants to as Much Sunlight as Possible
Your plants may be in the sunlight, but if the leaves are covered in dust or the windows are grimy, they aren’t getting as much natural sunlight as they could be. Give their leaves a gentle wipe and clean the window to enhance the plants’ sunlight exposure.
7. Drafts Are the Enemy
Not only are drafts bad for your energy bills, they’re also bad for houseplants. Plants require a constant temperature, so keep them away from any sources of drafts or cold air. Place them away from areas that are prone to temperature fluctuations, such as drafty windows and doors.
8. Avoid Over Watering Houseplants in Winter
Since your plants are conserving energy, they don’t need as much water as when they are growing in warmer months. To make sure your plants are getting only the water they need, monitor the dampness of the soil below the surface. If the soil is wet an inch or two below the top layer of soil, you won’t need to water it again. When the soil is dry below the surface, it’s time to give your plants a drink.
9. Fertilizing Usually Isn’t Necessary in the Winter Months
Likewise, you can cut back on the amount of fertilizer you are using. Again, because the plants aren’t expending energy to grow, they won’t need as much fertilizer during the colder months. You can cut down on the amounts of fertilizer you are using, and in some cases, even stop using it altogether until it begins to warm up.
10. Power in Numbers
Plants thrive in communities, sharing moisture and nutrients. Find a shelf or table and place them closely together in the winter to help them stay healthy.
Houseplants can, and will, slow down their growth throughout the winter, but don’t worry. They’re just resting until spring’s wake up call.