Taking care of your houseplants during the winter may pose a bit of a problem, not because you intentionally ignore them — or have suddenly lost your green thumb — but their needs change. Meeting the needs of houseplants during the winter requires some changes in your routine.
Watering: Most plants go into dormancy during the winter months. As plant growth slows down, the amount of water required to keep the plant healthy decreases – but don’t be fooled into thinking you can ignore your plant’s watering needs. Household conditions, such as forced hot air and decreased humidity may actually increase the need for water. Monitor the soil in your plants carefully to determine a good watering routine. Most thrive on thorough watering once a week.
Light: Houseplants that thrive in a sunny eastern or northern window in the summer may not receive enough sunlight for healthy growth during the winter months when the sun is low in the sky. Likewise, those grown in filtered light near western or southern windows may now be able to withstand direct sunlight. Experiment with new locations for your plants as the path of the sun changes.
Fertilizer: Houseplants do not require fertilizer during periods of dormancy as growth is slowed and the plant is resting. Withholding fertilizer from October to March is typically recommended. Begin fertilizing when a new flush of growth appears in late winter or early spring.
Pinching: Houseplants may produce scraggly or leggy growth during the winter due to the lack of light. If your plants begin to produce weak, spindly stems or appear to stretch for the light, pinch them back. This forces energy into producing new foliage along the stem and creates a compact plant. Move the plant to move light after pinching.
Temperature: Most houseplants are tropical plants and prefer temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F during the day with temperatures 10 degrees cooler at night. For some homes, this may pose a problem – because either temperatures remain constant throughout both daytime and nighttime hours or nighttime temperatures drop too low. Strive to keep temperatures within this range to promote healthy plant growth.
Dangers: Cold drafts or chilly windowsills pose the risk of “freezing” tender plants. As a rule, keep plants several inches from the windowpane. If your windows “frost up” during the night, move the plants away from windows – or place a heavy shade or drape between the plants and the window.
Other work by this author:
DIY: Leaf Shine for Houseplants – Use Mayonnaise
Ice Sculptures Breathe New Life into Winter Gardens
Decorate a Maine Winter Garden with Garlands and Wreaths