By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Winter is the time houseplants rest for the coming year and preparing houseplants for winter involves making some simple but important changes in their care. Readying plants involves protecting them from temperature highs and lows, dry indoor air, and lower light levels. Read on and learn how to prepare indoor plants for winter.
Tips on Houseplant Winter Care
- Help indoor plants prepare for their dormant period by decreasing the amount of water and the frequency of irrigation. Water only when the top one to two inches (2.5-5 cm.) of soil feels dry to the touch, using room temperature water. Growth is slower during the winter and too much water can trigger root rot. Some plants need very little water during the winter, while cacti and other succulents may need no water at all until spring.
- Indoor air is extremely dry during the winter and leaves may curl or turn yellow or brown if humidity is too low. During the winter, growing houseplants benefit greatly from a room humidifier, but if you don’t have one, you can put plants in a bathroom or kitchen where humidity levels tend to be higher. You can also set pots on humidity trays, which are simply shallow trays with a layer of wet gravel or pebbles. As the water evaporates it raises the humidity around the plants.
- Houseplant care in winter may require moving plants to a brighter spot, such as a different room or a window facing west or south. Rotate the plant regularly so all sides receive equal sunlight. If you don’t have a sunny window, you may need to supplement available light with a grow light or a fixture with one warm white tube and one cool white tube. Be sure plants aren’t exposed to doors, heat vents, fireplaces, or drafty windows.
- Wash your windows in autumn to allow maximum light to get through during the winter. Leave the curtains or shades open during the daylight hours. Wipe plant leaves with a soft, damp cloth so the leaves can absorb light more effectively.
- Houseplant winter care involves changing the way you normally feed plants, as you don’t want to encourage new growth when the plant is entering its dormant period. Cut back on feeding during the fall and withhold fertilizer entirely during the winter months. Resume regular feeding when you see new growth in spring.
- Hold off on repotting when the plant is actively growing. Fall and winter aren’t good times to disturb the roots.
- Trim the plant and remove dead or yellowing growth on winter growing houseplants. Don’t prune healthy green growth, as pruning will trigger new growth that forces the plant to work when it’s trying to rest.
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