Even if they never see the great outdoors, your houseplants go through seasonal changes just like most other living things. It’s easy to help your houseplants transition through the seasons and keep them happy during the cold, dark days of winter by following a few simple steps.
Quarantine outdoor visitors
Some of your outdoor plants may need to come inside for protection from the cold. After you bring them in, store these newcomers in a separate space for at least a week. This will give you time to identify any plants that may have insects that could spread to your other houseplants.
If you do find signs of insects, spray them with insecticidal soap according to the package directions. Insecticidal soap is safe on a wide range of plants, but take the time to check the label to make sure the spray is safe for your specific plant(s).
Keep the temperature steady
Most houseplants are happy in a space that stays between 50° to 80°F (10° to 27°C). That means you want to keep your houseplants away from cold drafts or hot heating vents, and don’t place the pots so close to windows that the leaves grow against the cold glass. Frosty window glass will freeze and kill the leaves.
Bring in the sun
Consider moving your houseplants to a sunnier location during the winter season. Wash your windows on the inside and the outside to let more light into your living space. Be sure to rotate your plants occasionally, so all sides get plenty of sunshine. Plants grow towards light, so you could end up with a lop-sided plant if you don’t give the pot an occasional quarter-turn. A good routine is to turn them slightly each time you water.
Put plants on a “diet”
In general, houseplants slow their growth during the winter, so they don’t need as much food as they do in summer, when the hours of sunlight are longer. Actually, most houseplants don’t need wintertime fertilization, but if you do choose to feed them in winter, be sure to cut back by at least 50%. You’ll know when to resume feeding when the plant is actively producing new growth again.
Houseplants usually need less water in winter than they do in summer. To check the moisture level use your finger and feel the soil. Don’t water your houseplants until you can feel dry soil an inch or two (3-5cm) below the surface. It is easy to overwater a plant in winter and end up with a deadly case of root rot.
Keep humidity levels up
The humidity in your home can plummet during winter months, and the dry air can cause health problems for your plants. If you have the space, group your plants in a high-humidity space like a bathroom or kitchen. You can also try leaving a tray of water near your plants to increase humidity levels or use a room humidifier. A light, daily misting with water will help keep your plants feeling refreshed.
No need to repot
Just like outdoor plants, your indoor plants are resting during the winter months. While it won’t hurt to repot your plants during the winter, it’s not necessary. There’s no need to repot them until you see signs of active new growth – which is likely to occur in the spring.
Give plants a bath
Clean dust and other substances from your houseplants by carefully sponging down the leaves. You can use plain water or put a drop or two of mild dish soap in some water to use as a cleaning solution. After washing the leaves, gently rinse them with clean water.
It takes very little time to keep your plants happy and healthy all winter long. The reward for your efforts are the many benefits indoor plants provide; from improved air quality to the calm relaxed feeling that being surrounded by living plants provide. Houseplants help create an oasis away from the cold and snow of winter, until sunny summer days return.