It’s easy to forget about the plants you keep indoors after you’ve moved them from their summer home on your porch or deck to somewhere inside your house. These houseplants need extra special care if they are going to survive the winter, which can be easier said than done. Here are nine tips that will help you prepare your indoor plants for winter so they can continue to bring beauty and life into your home even when it’s cold outside.
1) Adjust Watering to Suit Their Needs
While most plants will benefit from being watered less often, others will actually need more watering during winter. The best way to keep your plants happy and healthy is by varying their watering based on their needs. In general, most plants require less water as growth slows during the cooler months. In addition to varying your watering schedule depending on which type of plant you have in your home or office, also consider whether you’re taking good care of them by making sure they’re placed in a well-lit area that won’t dry out too quickly.
2) Allow for the Effect of Heaters
During colder months, people are typically using heaters or air conditioning. However, heating or air conditioning effects evaporation rates in plants' soil and can lead to stunted growth or even root damage.
It's best to use heating sparingly during cold months or adjust the water for plants most affected by the heat.
You can also consider getting an indoor plant heater or an air conditioner for your plants!
At a minimum, place your plants in a sunnier spot so they can grow more during winter. This will help protect them from freezing temperatures in addition to providing light and heat that helps with overall growth.
3) Give Your Plants a Temperature Boost
Cold weather means slower growth for your houseplants. If you're noticing a lot of leaves dropping, or yellowing, check their temperature—if it's too cold for you, it's definitely too cold for them.
Give them a boost by keeping them on a heat mat or next to a sunny window. A heat mat is also handy if you live in an apartment with unpredictable winter weather and long stretches between warm days (you know who you are).
Check out our Powerheat Waterproof Heating Pad which is ideal for a group of plants, or just your personal dram queen!
4) Consider the Changing Light
One of your biggest enemies is lack of light. Over time, you may notice that some plants in your home tend to grow more slowly or become leggy and stringy—and it could be because they're getting less light than they need.
Since days are shorter in winter, consider changing their location so that they get more direct sunlight during parts of the day when sun sits lower (usually early morning). This can help minimize damage caused by low levels of light and produce a healthier, fuller plant.
While you’re at it, don’t forget about cloud cover. Like us, plants have circadian rhythms, too—their metabolism is tied closely with lighting conditions so if their environment changes significantly from summer to winter, growth will suffer.
Artificial lights like our Angel Light and LED globes are great to boost light If your windows don't let in enough sunlight. Supplementing natural light with artificial sources can be a smart move. The Globes are wonderful as you can use a favourite lamp that suits your decor and save on the expense.
We recommend using full-spectrum lights whenever possible as they’ll better mimic natural sunlight than other types. Alternatively, try switching to compact fluorescent bulbs which last longer and save energy while producing just as much light as incandescent ones.
5) Resist the Temptation to Repot
If your plants are growing big and healthy, don't feel the need to repot them!
During winter, many houseplants go into a dormant period where they use less energy than usual. Repotting can shock your plant, and growth is slowing down in winter.
If your plant looks rootbound (has roots pushing against the sides of the pot), it may be time to consider repotting. But that is one exception!
Unless there is a very good reason the repotting can wait until the weather is warming up, and your plant is ready to start growing again.
6) Ensure Plants have Good Drainage
The wintertime often brings cold and rainy weather, which can leave your plants in a sort of state of suspended animation until spring.
Indoor plants left sitting in water can suffer from fungal problems like root rot. To prevent root rot and keep your plant healthy indoors over winter:
- Make sure your plants have good drainage
- Use pot feet to raise pots off of surfaces that might collect water
- Remove decorative pots (don't leave them sitting in water)
- Beware fungus gnats
7) Reduce fertiliser during the cooler months
Fertiliser is designed to encourage plant growth and plant growth is slowing down in winter. This means that plants need less fertiliser during winter.
Additionally, when temperatures drop outside, it’s more difficult for plants to absorb some types of fertiliser than during warmer months. And since you aren’t actively watering indoor plants during winter (unless they are lucky enough to live in a warm and humid part of your home), fertiliser runs a greater risk of burning roots—which actually may reduce overall plant health over time.
Instead, consider using a plant tonic once a month, which helps keep houseplants healthy through colder months by providing some water-soluble nutrients while avoiding any potential burn risk from fertilisers. Our Rescue Remedy Plant Tonic is the ideal solution.
8) Clean Foliage to Improve Photosynthesis
If you want your indoor plants to make the most of winter's daylight, be sure to wash the dust and grime off of their leaves; this will help prevent diseases and pests in the houseplant, especially when there are pets or insects in the house.
Using a soft microfibre cloth dipped in water or milk, or giving the plants a quick rinse in the shower, are two quick and easy solutions.
9) Add Humidity to the Air
Humidifiers are an easy way to combat lack of humidity caused by heating. During winter, heated air is typically drier, so keeping a humidifier running can help create a more comfortable atmosphere and keep your plants healthier.
A humidifier will release water vapour into your home, adding humidity and creating an environment that mimics tropical rainforests. Keep in mind that plants mainly have tropical origins, so they don’t do well in dry conditions.
Placing your houseplants on a water-filled pebble tray is another great way to add moisture back into your indoor environment. Pebbles lift the pot out of the water, and the water evaporates and releases moisture back into the air.
It's also helpful to cluster together similar types of plants; for example, placing ferns near other ferns or palms near other palms.
One key to helping your plants survive the winter is to keep them healthy and growing before the weather really cools off. During the fall months, you can help your plants prepare for winter by watering them less frequently and keeping their soil slightly dryer.
The goal is to make sure that all of your plants are in optimal condition, so they'll be more likely to survive the cold temperatures and any other challenges that winter brings.
Thank you for reading this blog, and we hope that you’re able to apply some of the advice here in your own home. Preparing your plants for winter is one of those chores that’s good to get done early, so you can enjoy them through the season—and hopefully beyond.