Winter can be a challenging period for houseplants and their owners. But, by adjusting just a few things we can help them survive winter and welcome spring in full force, ready to grow. Here are some tips that can help you help your plants during winter.
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Before we jump right on to winter care, let’s first see why do we need to adjust our houseplant care and understand better how to help our plants.
Dormancy is part of the natural plant cycle.
The dormancy period actually helps plants to get stronger and develop their root system. It basically gets them ready to push out new growth during the growing season (spring to autumn).
Dormancy in outdoor plants is triggered by lower temperatures and shorter daylight. You can easily spot changers in outdoor plants, but what about indoor plants, do they go dormant, too?
Do indoor plants go dormant?
Indoor plants also go dormant, although we keep the temperature in our homes somewhat the same year round, daylight is still shorter and of lower intensity during winter. Besides, due to out heating devices (radiators, air conditioning, furnace etc.) humidity levels drop as well, which causes stress to our houseplants.
Depending on the type of plant, dormancy is triggered differently. But one thing’s for sure, even if plants continue to push out new growth, they do it it much more slowly that during spring and summer.
Some of my plants go completely dormant during winter, like my Calathea plants. They go beyond love when it comes to humidity, and winter is simply a rough time for them. On the other hand, some of my plants like Pothos, Dracena, Monstera and others, keep pushing out new growth even during winter. But they push them out way less often.
How to adjust your houseplant care during winter?
During winter plants don’t need that much water and they don’t consume as much water like they do during the growing season. It’s always easy to over-water your houseplants, but during winter is even easier.
That’s why it’s important to adjust your watering schedule. You can do more harm by watering too frequently than if you let the soil of your houseplants dry out completely.
Let’s take one plant as an example:
You have this plant that you needed to water once a week during the growing season. – It’s most likely that during winter you’ll need to water this plant maybe once every two or three weeks.
Said that, there are some exceptions that don’t like dry soil – Calathea plants and one of the holiday season classics – the Poinsettia. I water these plants as soon as the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.
Watering some plants during winter can be even harmful.
Cactus and succulents especially don’t like to be overwatered. They can die in a matter of a day or two if they are overwatered. Cacti go dormant during winter and don’t need water so I don’t water them from November to March. I talk more about this in my post about Cacti care – How to successfully care for Cacti | Cactus indoor care. Check it out if you are interested to know more about their care.
As for other succulent type plants, and semi-succulents also (like ZZ plant and Sansevieria), it’s very important to let the soil completely dry out – bone dry – before you water them again. During winter they can easily even go up to 2-3 months without water.
Move your plants away from heating devices
Plants love humidity and heating devices dry the air. That’s why some of them struggle in our homes during winter.
It’s unfortunate that most of our heating devices, like radiators, are situated underneath the windows – where the plant would get the most light. Since I don’t need all my radiators to be turned on to keep the apartment warm, I turned some of them off and placed my plants closer to those windows. If that’s something you can do, why not do it, right?
If you use air-conditioning, be sure to move away plants that are on the blow of its warm and dry air.
Raise humidity levels
You can help your plants by raising humidity levels around them. The first thing that helps we already covered, and that’s moving them away from heating devices. You don’t have to move them across the room though, a feet or two (30-50cm) will do. If you have a furnace or fireplace, than move them even further away where direct heat decreases.
A trick that you can also do is grouping more plants together. You can also place water on heating devices to evaporate. Misting is good, but be on top of your misting and do it every day, or at least every other day.
One simple trick is to use diffusers. They’ve become quite popular lately and they are a great way to keep your home smell nice. That actually why I bought mine in the first place. I buy them from Aliexpress or Amazon because they have a large variety of cool choices for really affordable prices. All you need to do is pour some water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil and that’s it It looks beautiful with the mist coming out of it, too.
If you have really low humidity levels, there are always those big “hard core” humidifiers.
Stop fertilizing them
Fertilizing is something you do to help your plant with extra nutrition during the time it grows. And some do fertilize plants during winter because the see new growth. Me, personally, I don’t fertilize any of my plants during winter, event those that push out some new growth. I let the plants be and just water when needed.
Move them closer to light sources
As I previously said, its unfortunate that heating devices are usually situated near the windows.
But it’s important to provide as much light as you can to your houseplants, since its more limited and of lower intensity. Not to mention, cloudy days when there’s no direct sunlight at all.
If you struggle with this, grow lights can help you. If you do choose to use grow lights, have them turned on during the day – to simulate outdoor lighting. I say this because plants have their “mini dormancy period” during night, so they need this “lightless” period as well. You can also find a vast variety of grow lights on Aliexpress or Amazon for affordable prices. Here are some:
Be careful of cold drafts
Cold drafts can also harm your plants, so it’s better to move them from hallways and windowsills where you often open doors and windows.
These are my tips for a successful “houseplant winter”, I hope they’ll help you! Happy holidays!