Winter House Plant Tips & Tricks
1. CUT BACK ON WATERING
With less light, generally speaking, there is less need for water. Plants are far less active in the winter months since they do most of their growing during the spring and summer.
Less Growth = Less Water
For example, I have a monstera minima in the shop here that grows estatically during the summer, 8-12" a month easily. I water it once a week, on a strict schedule. However, now that the seasons have changed I am watering about once every 2-3 weeks! A drastic change.
A good concept to adapt is that it is much easier to add water than remove it. So lean towards underwatering this time of year. Direct misting the soil so it seeps in an inch or so it a great way to ensure you are not over watering, but I only reccomend this for smaller plants that do not have a large root system yet.
2. PAY ATTENTION TO SUNLIGHT
When the sun comes up later and sets earlier, plants will receive less sunlight than they did in spring and summer. You may consider moving your plants closer to windows so they can take advantage of as much light as possible. Rotate pots a quarter turn each week to ensure all sides of your plants get sunlight from time to time.
If boosting the light levels isn't an option for you, do not worry, most plants will be just fine. If you are super concerne, purchase a grow light or two. They make a world of difference. I have aquired several here for the houseplants at the nursery and the difference is truly remarkable. You can even purchase bulbs to put into light fixtures that you already have, no need to make your house look like a growing tent!
3. AVOID TEMPERATURE EXTREMES
Regular household temperatures that you're comfortable in are fine for most houseplants during the winter. But extreme changes in temperature, even for a short time, can cause problems. Keep plants away from cold drafts, radiators, and hot air vents. Sudden hot or cold drafts can stress plants out, cause cold damage, or dry them to a crisp.
4. PAUSE THE FERTILIZER
Most houseplants rest in the winter. They tend to grow very little, if at all. Because they are not producing new leaves and stems, they DO NOT require fertilizer. in the winter. Stop fertilizing in fall, and resume again in spring as plants receive more sunlight, spurring them to actively grow again.
5. BUG WATCH
Winter is prime time for tiny sap sucking insects like aphids and scale to pop up. Spider mites are another common winter pest because they like warm, dry conditions... like toasty warm living rooms. Turn plant leaves over and inspect their undersides every time you water. Check along stems, too. If you find any pests, try wiping them off with your fingers or an alcohol-soaked cotton ball. For large infestations, come by the nursery and we will pin point the perfect spray for you.
The air inside our heated homes tends to be drier in winter months. Most houseplants, especially those originally from tropical areas of the world, grow best when the humidity levels are between 40-50%, but wintertime humidity levels are typically 10-20% inside homes.
A simple way to ramp up the humidity around plants is to cluster them together. Water evaporating from the potting soil, as well as water lost naturally through the leaves, will raise the relative humidity right around your plants.
Fun Fact: Misting plants is not always an effective way to increase humidity. Studies have found that misting would have to be done many times a day to raise the humidity level enough to make a difference. If you want to go that route, we suggest purchasing a small humidifier and placing it nearby your plant friends.
7. KEEP FOLIAGE CLEAN
Take maximum advantage of the limited winter time sunlight that makes its way to plant leaves by clearing dust & grine from foliage. A damp cloth will work fine for wiping down each leaf, or give the whole plant a quick rinse in the shower to make short work of cleaning off the foliage.
8. RESIST THE URGE TO REPOT
Plants take well to repotting when they are actively growing... that's why spring and summer are the best times to repot houseplants. You might be tempted to get your hands in some soil and repot in the depths of winter. Doing so can shock dormant or resting houseplants, so resist the urge (and try starting some seeds to reduce the cabin fever)