Thinking about how I water my houseplants differently during the cooler, darker months when watering them the other day got me thinking. It wasn’t going to be a post and video about this subject alone but I thought, why not do the whole story?
HOUSEPLANT CARE DURING THE WINTER
My indoor plants really enjoy resting in the winter months, so I don’t fertilize, prune, or repot them.
Come spring, when the days warm up and the daylight hours lengthen, you’ll see these trees liven up and begin to grow.
Although they may not grow much during the winter, they still liven up the dreary months with their fresh growth.
Be sure to read all the way to the bottom because I answer some frequently asked questions about how to care for your indoor plants during the winter.
HOW TO WATER HOUSEPLANTS IN WINTER
Cut back on the amount of watering.
Unless you keep your home at sauna-like temperatures, the soil won’t be drying out quite as fast. Therefore, the plants won’t need as much water at this time.
Tucson is hot and dry 5 months of the year, so I water my plants roughly every 7 days. In winter, I cut back to every 10 – 21 days.
Watering yours will vary according to the type of plants in the pots, the kinds of soil, the light conditions, and your home’s temperature.
Water consumption must be reduced.
I water my houseplants about 25% less in winter. In summer, I use a larger watering can and in winter I use a smaller one. This keeps me from drowning out the plants.
There are quite a few large floor plants with quite a lot of soil mass, so this keeps the water away from the roots at the bottom of the pot.
Water should be easily dispensed from a tap.
This is the time when houseplants are most vulnerable to being shocked by ice cold water.
The saucer should not contain too much water.
Some trickling water is fine but you shouldn’t submerge the bottom of the pot in one to three inches of water as this will cause the roots to eventually rot.
If it sits on layers of pebbles or rocks, that’s okay – more on that under “Humidity”.
LIGHT / EXPOSURE
Plants may have to be moved.
During the winter, the days are shorter and the nights darker. If you feel your plants aren’t receiving enough light, then try moving them to a different location.
If you move them close to a window, make sure they aren’t up against the cold glass or catching any drafts.
Rotate if necessary.
If the light source is coming from one side, then even in winter, houseplants need to be rotated. I rotate mine every month or two depending on how they’re looking.
FERTILIZING / FEEDING
Don’t fertilize at this time.
Remember, houseplants rest during this time and go dormant or semi-dormant. They don’t need or want it, so wait until the weather warms and the days become longer.
In the spring and in the summer I feed my houseplants, and I just started in the early fall as well. Here is my method of fertilizing my houseplants.
REPOTTING / TRANSPLANTING
Wait until spring before repotting or transplanting.
The best time to do this is spring, summer or early fall (depending on your climate).
Make sure that your house plants are not near direct heat sources.
Do not put your plants next to any working fireplace, keep them away from heating vents, or put them near any standing heaters.
Stay away from any drafts of cold air.
You should move plants near any doors that open regularly. Just as plants do not like being next to a heat source, they cannot tolerate frigid drafts. This goes for windows as well.
Houseplants don’t mind being a little cooler at night.
I learned this over the years. My home greenhouse was kept at 45F all year round. In the daytime it was warmed by the sun, but in the evenings it was cooled by the fall wind.
The temperature in the house is now set to 64 degrees every night (love to sleep in a cool bedroom!) and my plants seem fine.
Yours won’t mind it at all if you set the temperature back when you go off to work.
A boost may be needed at this time for your plants.
Most house plants are native to the tropics or sub-tropics, and are grown in greenhouses. The heat in our homes can be harsh on them.
Living in the Arizona desert where the air is dry all year long, except when summer monsoons roll around, I am all too familiar with this.
The humidity can be increased by misting or spraying the air once or twice a week in the morning. If the foliage stays too moist for too long, fungal disease will become an issue.
Some of my tropical plants get taken to the shower once a week. My small houseplants get watered in the kitchen sink and sprayed.
Additionally, I run a few small diffusers in rooms where my plants are. I do not run them every day – about 4 times a week.
Water in plant saucers with pebbles.
The plants will get moisture from the air directly around them if the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the grow pot.
Winter is an ideal time for it.
Make sure to clean your plants on a cold, snowy day. Heat can blow a lot of dust around and the leaves of your plants need to breath.
An old rag or microfiber cloth works just as well as a good spray off. Don’t use a commercial leaf shine as it blocks the pores and prevents them from breathing.
Keep your eye out
Fungus gnats often appear if plants get too wet and are kept in too warm a place. Spider mites and mealybugs can be difficult to eradicate.
If you see signs of any pest, take action immediately since they can spread from plant to plant. Also, they’re easier to control if you catch them in the early stages.
During the winter, you can either treat or spray; see posts for more details.
Remove or push back.
Decorative coverings like moss or large river stones or beach pebbles should be removed or pushed back so soil doesn’t remain soaked. When you over water your plants, a thick layer of damp moss also encourages fungus gnats.
WINTER HOUSEPLANT CARE FAQS
How often should you water houseplants in winter?
The conditions of your home, particularly the light quality and home temperature, will determine how long your plants survive. I recommend watering less in winter than in warm months. I’ve done a lot of guides on the care of specific houseplants for your reference.
Why are my houseplants dying in winter?
There are several common reasons for this, including lack of light, excessive water, lack of humidity, and insect infestations.
Is is bad to repot houseplants in winter?
Winter is the time for houseplants to rest. I leave mine be from mid-fall through late winter. If your plant has been damaged and you need to repot it, go for it.
Should I mist my houseplants in winter?
It is not necessary to spray the leaves to increase moisture in the air around the houseplant.
However, I do lightly mist some of my houseplants in winter every 2 weeks or so in the morning. If they stay too wet for too long, fungal diseases could begin to emerge.
My air plants are the exception. I soak them once a week and mist them once a week.
What is the lowest temperature for houseplants?
At night, I set my thermostat back to 64F and my plants do just fine. Most of them prefer it a bit cooler when dark. Our dining room had a greenhouse that was kept at 45F in the colder months.
The sun (if there was any!) warmed it during the day. In retrospect, it might have been too cold for the plants, but I don’t recall any plants dying as a result.
Most house plants prefer warm temperatures & that’s when they grow.
Can you fertilize houseplants in winter?
I don’t because they need to rest. I back off on the fertilizing in early fall and resume it in the late winter.
Winter is a good time to feed yours half strength.
Why do my indoor plants have mold on the soil in winter?
It is not harmful to the plant, but it is an indication that the soil has been too wet. You can remove it and reduce watering.
WINTER HOUSEPLANT CARE TAKEAWAYS
Watering and lighting are the main points to pay attention to. Plants in winter often require more water than they need, so reduce the amount and frequency.
Put your plants in a brighter spot if they look sad. They could need more light during the darker months.
I let my plants rest in the winter and go through their natural cycle and they add so much to my home. Plants can survive winter just fine if they are properly cared for.
You can give them extra attention in spring, summer, and early fall. I hope this guide on winter houseplant care is helpful to you!
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