How to care for houseplants in the winter
A houseplant’s behavior changes based on the time of year, just as it does with people. During the colder months, houseplants are dormant; they sleep for a few months. It means your plants will require different care in the winter, but how? In this guide, we’ll go over all the things you need to know about caring for your plants in the winter. In the course of this guide, you will be able to maintain your plants during the autumn and winter months.
In this article we will look at houseplant care during the winter:
- Keep your houseplants well hydrated
- Extra sunlight in the winter
- Fertilizing your plants during the winter
- Humidity levels need to be adjusted during winter
How do you prepare your plants for winter? Let’s start straight away.
Watering your houseplants
One of the most difficult adjustments you’ll have to make is watering your plants in the winter. In the spring and summer, your plants are growing quickly, some as quickly as others, but not this way in the winter. During the winter time, your plants will sleep. Plants do this to recuperate from the rapid growth they experienced. It’s like stopping for breath when you’re running: with a few breaths you can get back into shape. For plants, this means growth will be slower, and some plants will even stop growing during the cold months. This also means they won’t need as much energy, or water, because they’re using less energy.
In the wintertime, it is that much more important to check that the soil is dry before you water your plant, as it is easy to overwater your plants during this time. The roots will not be as thirsty, making them stay moist for much longer. You may also find that you need to water your plants less often in the early spring and summer. There is no precise formula for this, but it roughly works like this: you may need to water them once every other week in the spring and summer. Always check the soil before watering your plants to ensure you aren’t overwatering them.
Extra sunlight in the winter
The most important part of plant care, after watering, is sunlight. During the autumn and winter, sunlight will be considerably weaker, as well as it being less visible. This may not be a big deal for your sun-loving plants, since they are probably already placed in a windowsill, where they receive as much sunlight as the sun still beams down. Nevertheless, for plants that only receive light indirectly or in low light, you’ll need to take steps to improve them.
As the sun is dimmer in Winter than in Summer, you will have to move your plants to darker places close to a window. Because the light that was too strong for these plants in the Summer suddenly becomes perfect in the Winter. The Dracaena, for example, thrives in bright indirect light in the summer, but during the winter you will need to relocate this plant to a south-facing window (or north-facing window if you live in the southern hemisphere). A light like this in the summer would be way too bright, but it gets just right in the winter.
It’s possible to give your plants additional artificial light through growing lights as long as you can’t move them toward the light. With growing lights, you will not have to move your plants at all and they can remain in the same spot you have kept them during spring and summer.
Fertilizing your plants in the winter
The watering section taught us that plants use less energy in the winter because they don’t grow as much as they do during the summer. This is also why you should stop fertilizing your plants during autumn and winter. The plants don’t need fertilizer in the winter, so if you keep fertilizing them anyway, you may risk overfertilizing the soil, which may lead to a harsh life environment, because the soil is too acidic, which could harm the plants. The best method is to take a break from fertilizing once it’s autumn and return to it once spring officially arrives.
Adjusting the humidity levels during the winter
During the winter, not only do your plants receive less sunlight, but it also gets colder outside. It’s almost certain that you’ll be burning radiators throughout your house to stay warm and keep your plants warm. Make sure your plants are at the right temperature, avoid freezing them, but they’re also tougher than you might have thought. The problem right here is humidity.
Your central heating makes it nice and warm inside, but it also makes the air dry. If you’ve ever gardened with Calatheas, you know that they need lots of humidity. Other plants, such as cacti, do not mind being brought up in dry air. The only way you can keep your plants healthy during the winter is to increase the humidity in your house. While you aren’t likely to achieve the same humidity levels during the winter as you did over the spring and summer, your plants will still survive the winter much better if you do your best to raise the humidity.
If you want to make your life easier, you can group together the plants which need higher humidify levels and mist them occasionally.
Plant care changes with the seasons. While the spring and summer are pretty straightforward, autumn and winter can be quite challenging. Your plants go into a dormant phase and require completely different care than they did in the spring and summer. The main changes to make are to water your plants less frequently, move them nearer windows because of weaker sunlight, stop fertilizing until spring, and raise the humidity level because of the dry air and central heating system in your house.
If your plants don’t grow fast, and some plants won’t grow at all, you may lose leaves during the winter. Don’t worry, however; these leaves will nourish your plants in the springtime.