Winter Houseplant Basics
It can be a tough time for our plant babies due to the cold, dryness indoors, and lack of sunlight but it doesn’t take much to keep your plants healthy if you know what they are needing at this time. Winter houseplant basic care in the winter is simple and the rules below should help you take care of your houseplants! Remember houseplants are usually a form of tropical plant and we want to mimic that environment, within reason of course.
Houseplants keep our connection with nature, provide health benefits, and add beautiful color to our rooms. Let’s go over a few things to prevent complete loss and provide optimal houseplant care in the winter.
1.Big no-no! Taking the plant outside with no protection.
Houseplants are available all year-roundso we may not think about what the cold weather can do to the plants if they are exposed to the extreme temperature differences. When it is below 50 degrees, as the winters are in MN, plants do not like to be exposed to the cold. Think of plants like us. We can’t go outside without a protective layer in freezing temps. When buying a houseplant, make sure it gets wrapped up in plastic or paper before you leave the store and do not keep in the car without heat for long.
2.Add humidity around with trays with pebbles and water when humidity is low.
With the heaters going in the house, this can drop humidity levels drastically. If you don’t want to buy a humidifier for the rooms that you or your plant are in (humidity is good for us too!) , this is a good method to increase humidity around our houseplants. Fill a tray underneath your plant with pebbles. Make sure your plant is never sitting in the water so it still needs a smaller saucer underneath the actual pot. When the water evaporates, the humidity is elevated around the plant. Keep the tray filled with water. This also helps prevent spider mites since they love dry plants! 50-60 percent relative humidity is a good level for both people and plants. Some thin leafed plants may need up to 70 percent. Even succulents/cactus don’t mind humidity at 40 percent or more!
3. Make sure the warm air isn’t blowing directly onto the plants.
Along with humidity you must pay attention to temperature. Quick fluctuations of cold and heat can damage the foliage of a plant and dry it out too quickly. Buy a duct cover to direct airflow or move the plant away from the heating vent.
4. Make sure the leaves aren’t touching the windows.
The leaves touching the window are probably going to be damaged by the cold. You can put a barrier between them and the window if possible. Cardboard or some other form of protection if you don’t mind the obstructed view if you absolutely need the plants that close to a window.
5. Do not re-pot your plant into a larger pot in the winter.
Your houseplant is probably not actively growing and will do better up-potted in the spring or before November. If you do need to pot up, just pot 1-1/2 inches up and make sure you are paying very close attention to the water level in the soil! We don’t want to drown them. Pay attention to plants potting needs also. For example, Jade plant likes to be snug in its pot.
6. Hold off fertilizing your houseplants until March.
If a plant is over-fertilized in the winter it can create weak growth. Think of your plant as on a diet and ramp up the feedings around spring time.
7. Reduce watering frequency.
Too much watering is a common mistake people make with their houseplants. It really all depends on the environment in your home but before you water always check to see if the soil is dry before watering. If it’s damp, hold off. Succulents, cactus, sanseveria, zz plants, rubber plants, and pothos, are examples of houseplants that you can let the soil go completely dry before watering. Some plants, like prayer plants, ferns, and spider plants can be watered when the first inch of soil is dry yet still a bit damp deeper in the soil. Research your individual plant needs to find out their preferred watering schedule! You will get the hang of it quickly for each plant.
Don’t give up all hope if some houseplants don’t survive. Houseplant care shouldn’t be stressful! You just may need to try a different plant for your home! To keep our houseplants happy we do have to pay attention to what certain varieties of plants prefer so if you have any questions please feel free to call or email us with questions! Pictures help us diagnose issues also.