As the weather gets colder and we start spending more time indoors, we appreciate being surrounded by beautiful houseplants and tropical plants. However, winter is the most difficult time of year to keep these plants healthy. Below are some ways that you can care for your houseplants this winter.
Is your houseplant getting enough light? Most houseplants need at least 3-4 hours of indirect light each day. With winter’s shorter days and weaker sunlight, it can be difficult to meet plants’ light needs. This doesn’t mean moving the plants closer to windows—many houseplants (especially tropical plants) don’t do well in cold, drafty areas. Consider getting grow lights, or replacing a regular lightbulb with a full-spectrum light bulb in the area where you keep your houseplants.
Seal your windows and doors! Not only will you be saving on your energy bill, your indoor plants will thank you. Most houseplants thrive in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, and anything you can do to maintain a consistently warm temperature in your house will help.
That being said, avoid placing your houseplants where there are dramatic temperature fluctuations. Placing your indoor plants near a heat source like a radiator may cause undue stress as they try to acclimate to the frequently changing temperature. A plant can adjust better to consistent lower temperatures rather than fluctuating temperatures.
You will have to switch up your watering routine during the winter months. Be extra careful that you are not over-watering your plants. With less sunlight and cooler temperatures, your houseplants will dry out much more slowly. Be sure you are sticking a finger at least 2” into the soil to check for dampness. Over-watering will cause water-logged roots that don’t get the oxygen they need to survive.
Many tropical houseplants enjoy warm, humid temperatures. When we heat our houses, the air becomes dry. Heated homes typically have about a 10-20% humidity level, compared to the 50% humidity level that most tropical plants thrive in.
For starters, group your plants together. Plants transpire through their leaves, and clustering the plants together will allow them to conserve and exchange some valuable water.
If you have a humidifier, place your plants close enough to it so that they absorb its benefits. If you have space in your bathroom (and if your bathroom receives plenty of light), put your plants there.
Another way to ensure your plants are getting the humidity they need is to fill a tray with pebbles, then to add water to that tray, but not enough water to cover the pebbles. Place your plants on this tray, but make sure that the bottoms of the pots are not touching the water. This will allow for the slow and steady release of humidity that your plants need. You could also increase humidity by placing a vase full of water near the plants-as the water evaporates, it releases some humidity into the air.
If you don’t have space for a tray, simply misting your plants daily will give them the humidity that they need. Fill a clean spray bottle with filtered water and lightly mist your plants each day.
Avoid Repotting & Fertilizing
Winter is a time of relative dormancy for your houseplants. They aren’t consuming as many nutrients as they did during periods of aggressive growth, and probably need little (if any) fertilizer during the winter.
Avoid repotting your plants during the colder months. Your plant’s root system isn’t growing quickly at this time, and a larger pot may increase the likelihood of water-logged roots and root rot.
A few simple changes to your houseplant routine will help your houseplants to over-winter with ease. As always, our friendly garden center staff is happy to help with any questions or concerns, and we have plenty of houseplants in stock for year-round color.