A home filled with flourishing houseplants can be especially comforting during the winter months when the weather outside is dreary and night comes early.
Even a small office plant bringing a touch of green to your life can help keep you in a better mood. Taking care of houseplants is relatively easy once you get the hang of it but just like people houseplants may need some special care during the winter to keep looking their best.
One of the most important things all plants need to survive is light. From spider plants to succulents they all require light to perform photosynthesis (make food). While many houseplants are well adapted to low light levels inside your home as the hours of sunlight per day dwindle away in the fall they may require extra light to keep looking their best. If you notice they are getting “leggy” or growing tall and spindly towards the light they’re probably not getting enough.
Try moving your plants to south facing windows to ensure they get as much light as possible throughout the day. Thankfully artificial lights will also do the trick if you’re unable to find a spot with enough light to keep your plant satisfied.
While this may seem obvious, plants’ water needs may be different during the winter months. Despite drier air, most houseplants need less water during the winter months because they are somewhat dormant. Too much water could lead to root rot. Don’t just look at the surface soil to tell if it’s dry. Poke your finger into the soil or lift the pot to see how heavy it is to make your plant doesn’t still have plenty of water by its roots before you add more. We highly recommend a water meter to accurately check your water if you are new to growing houseplants or in a new environment. Also, consider using rainwater. It is high in natural nutrients.
Some plants are also affected by the humidity. While some desert succulents may do well in the dry winter air other tropical plants may struggle to meet moisture needs. For these plants, you may need to mist them with a spray bottle or even better add a humidifier to the room. It’s worth noting that adding a humidifier to the room could further cut down on the actual watering you need to do as well.
Due to lower light levels, houseplants generally don’t grow much during the winter. For this reason, they need fewer nutrients and fertilizing can be held off until spring when the plants begin their summertime growth again.
Most houseplants are native to warm climates making them well suited to life indoors. They generally don’t perform well in temperatures below 50°F. It’s best to keep your plants away from any cool drafts. Even though you want your plants to get as much light as possible you still want to keep them a few inches back from the window and if outdoor temperatures drop significantly you should move them away from the window or put a cloth or curtain between the window and the plant during the night.
Try to avoid repotting your plants during the winter. Repotting can be really tough on plants and should be left to the spring or summer when they have more energy to put into recovery.
Watch for Common brown scale, Mealybugs, Aphids, Common whitefly, Spider mites, and Thrips. The best form of defense against houseplant disease and pests is to be on the offense. Carefully inspect your plants before you buy them. Always use clean pots and fresh potting soil when repotting and compost old potting soil for your outside garden. When you bring in a new plant, isolate your plant from other plants for a few days to a couple weeks as many pests can be soil born. Give so much room that leaves from one plant don’t touch the leaves of another plant. This kind of spacing is essential to get airflow and reduce the chances of transferring pests from one to another but also reducing mildew.
All is not lost if you experience a pest problem. Bring leaves, photos or even your whole plant into our free Diagnostic desk and we’ll get you back on track.
Research Your Variety
Overall knowing your variety’s specific needs is one of the best ways ensure your plant stays healthy and happy this winter. If internet searches don’t provide the desired results we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Ask for Help
If your plant seems under the weather and you can’t determine the cause, we encourage you to bring your plant in to talk with one of our experts. We’ll help you determine your plant’s problems and recommend solutions.
Houseplants have a number of benefits and can help keep your home feeling fresh and alive during the winter. Understanding their needs is key to keep them looking their best.
You can learn more with our list of Best Indoor Plants to brighten your home this winter. And for more tips to help care for your houseplants, come visit one of our Homestead Gardens locations.