Here are key tips for winter houseplant care, so you can keep your indoor plants alive and healthy during the cooler, darker months.
When watering my houseplants the other day, I got to thinking about how I do it differently in the cooler, darker months. I wasn’t going to do a post and video solely on this subject but thought, why not cover the whole nine yards?
How to Care for Houseplants in Winter
Indoor plant growth slows in the winter months so I basically leave mine be when it comes to fertilizing, pruning, and repotting.
Come spring, when the days start to warm up and daylight hours get longer, is when you’ll see them liven up and start to grow.
Oh, we do love that fresh spring growth! Even though they’re not growing much in winter, they certainly do liven up the drearier months.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom because I answer some commonly asked questions about indoor plant care in winter.
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Plant Humidity: How I Increase Humidity For Houseplants
- Buying Houseplants: 14 Tips For Indoor Gardening Newbies
- 11 Pet-Friendly Houseplants
How to Water Houseplants in Winter
1. Cut back on the frequency of watering.
Unless you keep your home at sauna-like temps, the soil won’t be drying out as fast. Therefore, the roots won’t need as much water at this time.
I live in Tucson which is hot and dry for 5 months of the year so I water my houseplants roughly every 7 days. In winter I cut back the frequency back to every 10 – 21 days.
How often you water yours will vary depending on the type of plants you have, the pot sizes and soil makeup, light conditions, degree of humidity, and how warm or cool your home is.
2. Decrease the amount of water.
My houseplants are watered roughly 25% less in winter. I have a larger watering can that I use in the summer and a smaller one to use in the winter. This prevents me from drowning out the plants.
I have quite a few large floor plants with a lot of soil mass so this prevents it from staying too wet towards the bottom of the pot where the majority of the roots are.
3. Use room temperature water.
Houseplants are resting at this time and don’t appreciate the shock of ice-cold water.
4. Don’t let too much water collect in the saucer.
A little bit of trickling out is into the saucer is fine but you don’t want to submerge the bottom of the grow pot in 1-3″ of water as it will cause the roots to eventually rot.
If it sits on layers of pebbles or rocks that’s fine – more on that under “Humidity”.
Light / Exposure
5. You may have to move your plants.
The winter months are darker and the days are shorter. If you feel your plants aren’t getting the light they need, then move to a different location for more light.
If you move them closer to a window, just make sure they’re not up against the cold glass or catching any drafts from a window.
6. Rotate them if need be.
If the light source is coming from 1 side, then houseplants need to be rotated even in winter. I rotate mine every month or 2 depending on how they’re looking.
Fertilizing / Feeding
7. Back off on the fertilizer at this time.
Remember, houseplants rest at this time and go dormant or semi-dormant. They don’t need or want it. Wait until the weather warms and the days get longer.
Repotting / Transplanting
8. Hold off on repotting or transplanting.
Just like fertilizing or feeding, spring, summer and even early fall (depending on your climate) are the optimum times to do this.
9. Keep your houseplants away from direct heat sources.
Move your plants away from any heating vents, keep them off any standing heaters, and don’t put them right next to working fireplaces.
10. Keep them away from any cold drafts.
If you have any plants near any doors which open regularly, move them. Just like being next to a heat source, they don’t like frigid drafts. This goes for windows too.
11. Houseplants don’t mind being a bit cooler at night.
I’ve learned this over time. I grew up with a home greenhouse off the dining room and the temp was kept around 45F. The sun warmed it in the day but the evenings of course cooled.
Now, we set the temp. in the house back to 64 every night (love a cool bedroom for sleeping!) and my plants are fine.
If you set the temp. back when you go off to work, yours won’t mind it at all.
12. Your plants may need a boost at this time.
Most houseplants are native to the tropics or sub-tropics and are raised in greenhouses. The heat in our homes can be dry.
I live in the Arizona desert where the air is dry all the time, except for when the summer monsoons roll around so I’m all too familiar with this.
You can up the ante on the humidity factor by misting or spraying the air around them once or twice a week in the morning. If the foliage stays too wet for too long, fungal disease could become an issue.
I take some of my tropical plants to the shower every few weeks. My small houseplants get a trip to the kitchen sink and get watered and sprayed.
I also run a few small diffuser/humidifiers in the rooms where my plants are. I don’t run them every day – about 4 times a week.
Related: Increase Humidity for Plants
13. Pebbles in water in plant saucers.
This will give the plants a bit of moisture in the air directly around them. Just make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the grow pot.
14. It’s a good project to do in winter.
Pick a snowy, cold day and clean your plants. Heat can blow a lot of dust around. The leaves of your plants need to breathe and a build-up of dust can prevent this.
A damp, soft rag or microfiber cloth does the trick as well as a good spray off. And don’t use a commercial leaf shine – it blocks the pores and hinders their breathing process.
Related: Cleaning Indoor Plants
15. Keep your eye out.
Take action as soon as you see evidence of any pest because they spread from plant to plant. Also, they’re much easier to get under control if you catch them early on.
You can spray or treat in winter; more on that in the posts.
16. Remove or push back.
Decorative covering like moss or large river rock or beach pebbles should be removed or pushed back so the soil won’t stay soaked. This is good to do if you tend to over water your plants. A thick layer of damp moss also encourages fungus gnats.
Key points for winter houseplant care:
Winter Houseplant Care FAQs
It depends on the type of plant, pot size, soil composition, light exposure, & temperature of your home. What I can tell you is water less often in winter than in the warm months. I’ve done lots of guides on the care of specific houseplants for your reference.
The most common reasons are lack of light, too much water, lack of humidity, and insect infestations.
Winter is the time for houseplants (like outdoor plants) to rest. I prefer to leave mine be from mid-fall through late winter. If your plant has taken a tumble & you must repot it, then go ahead.
Misting increases the moisture (very temporarily) of the air around the houseplant. Spraying the leaves doesn’t do it.
That being said, I do lightly mist some of my houseplants in winter every 2 weeks or so in the morning. If the foliage stays too wet for too long, the fungal disease could become an issue.
The exception for me is my air plants. I soak them once a week & mist them once a week.
I set my thermostat back to 64F at night & my plants do just fine. Most prefer it a bit cooler when dark. I grew up with a greenhouse right off our dining room which was set to 45F in the colder months.
The sun (if there was any!) warmed it during the day. In hindsight, it might have been too cold for them but I don’t remember any plants dying because of this.
Most houseplants do like it warm & that’s when they do their growing.
I don’t because again, it’s the time for them to rest. I back off on the fertilizing in early fall & pick it up again in late winter.
If you feel the need to feed yours in winter, do it at 1/2 strength.
This white mold isn’t harmful to the plant but it is a sign that the soil has been kept too wet. You can scrape it off & back off on the watering.
Takeaways on Winter Houseplant Care
The key points you have to pay attention to are watering and lighting. It’s very easy to water indoor plants too much in winter so cut back on the frequency and amount.
If your plants are looking sad, they could very well need more light for the darker months. Move them to a brighter spot.
Plants add so much life and beauty to our homes and can survive winter just fine if properly cared for. I let mine rest in the winter and go through their natural cycle.
You can pamper them in spring, summer, and early fall. I hope you find this guide on winter houseplant care to be helpful!
Happy (Indoor) gardening,
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