If houseplants wither when they see you coming, this blog is for you.
If you have a habit of killing houseplants, then you probably find yourself in rare form during the winter months. Given its cold drafts, dry air, limited sunshine, and busy holiday schedules, winter practically begs houseplants to wither, shrivel, dry out and just give up.
But not this year. This year you’re going to be totally prepared.
Make the most of the light
As the sun dips lower in the sky and days shorten, houseplants will need to be moved around to accommodate their sunlight needs.
- Move low-light plants from east- and north-facing windows to the southern and western rooms in the house.
- Plants that typically need filtered and full sun may be able to withstand direct sun for the darkest days of winter (just keep an eye on them).
- Direct sun plants will likely die back a bit if conditions can’t support them. Just make sure they get as much sun as possible, especially in December and January.
Move all plants a little closer to the windows, and keep those windows clean to allow as much sunlight to filter through as possible. Likewise, dust your houseplants so that their leaves can make as much use of the available light as possible.
If all else fails, use fluorescent bulbs; they are cheaper than grow lights and, as long as plants are within a foot of the light, can be a pretty green alternative. Pun intended.
Keep it cozy
As you probably know, most houseplants are from tropical climates. They, like most of us, prefer warm temperatures between 65° F and 75° F during the day and do well when the temp drops about 10 degrees at night.
The key to healthy plant temps is to watch for huge swings from hot to cold; keep plants away from heat sources and drafty doors and windows. If you go on vacation, remember that setting the temp below 50° F will likely cause problems for your plants.
Winter’s cold air and most home heating units suck a lot of moisture out of the air. Most plants prefer up to 50% humidity, and chances are, your home only offers about 10% in the winter. If you are using more lotion to keep up with dryness, there’s a good chance your plants are pretty thirsty too.
Watch for brown leaf tips and spider mites, and improve your home’s humidity with humidifiers, set planters in saucers of water, and spritz leaves with a fine mist spray bottle.
You may think we’re going to tell you to water your plants more in the winter–but that’s actually one of the most common ways houseplants suffer during the colder months. As their growth slows down during the dormant season, so do their water needs; only water once the soil feels almost completely dry.
Of course, not all plants and regions have the same requirements, so keep an eye on your plants throughout the season (I set a reminder on my phone, which helps). Fertilize and prune your plants as needed, keep them to ensure even growth, and save repotting for the spring when they have more energy to survive it.
Do you know other ideas to care for houseplants? Tell us about them in the comments!