8 Care Tips for Houseplants in Winter
Indoor plants' off-season care is usually low-fuss, but some special considerations ought to be made for houseplants in winter to keep them alive and well.
Over the winter months, when your outdoor garden has little to boast about, the greenery inside your home lifts spirits and keeps the air fresh. But believe it or not, even if a plant lives in a pot indoors, it remains aware of the seasons. In fact, houseplants deal with winter much the same as outdoor varieties. Although their colors stay bright, indoor plants essentially go to sleep.
As such, houseplants in winter require less hands-on care—just a maintained level of attention for their changing needs. Here’s how to provide the best care for your ficus, ferns, and philodendrons until the weather warms.
- Bring outdoor plants in gradually. If you’re moving houseplants indoors for just the winter, it’s best to get them accustomed to the change of environment by placing them in their new location for a few hours and then returning them to their previous spot every day for the course of a few weeks. Gradually increase the time in the plant’s “winter residence” until it’s ready for its complete transition.
- Avoid dramatic temperature changes. Once your plant has adjusted, help it keep its leaves by minimizing temperature extremes. Pull plants back from cold windows and locate them away from sources of heat, such as stoves, fireplaces, and radiators.
- Limit watering. During the winter, the days are shorter and indoor houseplants receive less ambient light through windows. As a result, photosynthesis slows and the plant enters a resting phase. Plants that are dormant do not require as much water as growing plants do during spring and summer. Before watering your houseplants, always use a finger to check the soil and give your plants a good soaking only whenever the soil is dry.
- Try a new window. If your plants pass the summer in one window, you might place them near another for the winter. Or give the window glass a wash, inside and out, in order to let in a little more light.
- Pause your feeding schedule. You may be inclined to fertilize to encourage growth, but your plants won’t be interested until the days get longer and the sun gets stronger. Cut back how often you administer homemade plant food to once every five weeks and gradually increase to every three weeks as it gets closer to spring to anticipate their growth spurts.
- Give them a dusting. Wipe down any dusty leaves with a soft cloth dipped in water. Left alone, dust can prevent your plant from fully absorbing the nutrients it needs from the environment.
- Add a little humidity. Your plant may not be as thirsty now, but that doesn’t mean it appreciates the dry air. Mist frequently and put tropical plants on a tray of rocks with a small amount of water. If your space has particularly dry air, consider investing in a reliable room humidifier.
- Wait to repot. Spring is the best time to repot plants, but if you received or purchased any houseplants in winter that’s in need of more space, work somewhere warm and do so gently. Follow the tips above and skip fertilizer until spring.