How to Help Indoor Plants Survive During the Winter

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When colder temperatures hit, that’s usually the cue to prepare any outdoor plants for the winter season. But not as many people know that indoor plants are also susceptible to changes in the seasons. Here are some tips to help indoor plants survive during winter.

Regulate Temperature as Much as Possible

Colder temperatures outside usually mean the heater gets cranked up inside. Plants that have gotten accustomed to specific indoor temperatures during warmer months may start to suffer if they are left too close to a furnace or fireplace. Winter can also increase the feelings of drafts and air currents in your home.

Make sure that any plants are kept away from blustery doors or windows that are not well insulated. If you choose to put plants in the window, make sure they are placed several inches from the glass. If you live in a place that consistently gets below freezing, the plants’ foliage can become damaged from touching the cold surface overnight.

Keep the temperature inside your living space at or around the same temperature throughout the day. A range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit should be comfortable for most indoor plants. Letting the room get too cold and then making it too hot to compensate can shock them.

Make It Misty

All that extra heat indoors tends to make the air drier and harsher on plants. Many people switch up their beauty routine in winter to include a thicker moisturizer, so why not do the same for your plants?

If you’re on a budget, a quick solution to increasing humidity is putting the plants on a tray with pebbles in it and adding water to the tray. As the water evaporates, it will be absorbed by the plants. 

You can also buy a humidifier that will increase the humidity in the air for a larger space. Getting a big humidifier will help keep both your plants and your skin feeling more hydrated. Or you can opt for a smaller one to stay close to the plants that need it the most.

Avoid Overwatering

While the plants may enjoy extra humidity in the air, they won’t need to be kept on the same watering schedule in the winter. The lower temps keep the soil from drying out as fast as it does in the summer. Only water when the first few inches of soil in the pot feel dry. If you see mold on the top of the soil, that’s a sign you’ve been watering too frequently. If this occurs, simply scrape off the mold and remember to reduce the frequency of watering.

When you do water, make sure the water is room temperature and not too cold, leading to problems like root shock that may cause permanent damage. Some plants like cacti or succulents can potentially go most of the season without needing any extra water, so be sure to check on them from time to time.

If you want to ensure the plant is getting adequate water, you can purchase a soil sensor meter to check the moisture levels a couple of times weekly.

Turn Up the Spotlight

Shorter winter days mean fewer hours of sunlight coming in from windows to give plants the light they need to thrive. While you can move plants from one room to an area closer to a window during the winter, you may also choose to invest in a grow light.

You can find an array of lights both online and at local hardware stores. There are a variety of styles and sizes to choose from, enabling you to find the one that will best fit your space and provide the type of light your plants need.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you could change the lights in your existing lamps to daylight bulbs to help get the plants the light they need. Brighter light might even help keep winter blues at bay.

Rotate Your Plants

Plants constantly facing the light source on one side tend to grow unevenly and will not be as healthy as possible. By rotating the pot just about 90 degrees every couple of weeks, you will ensure that the plant receives equal light on each side.

Be careful not to rotate them too much, though. If you were to flip the plant entirely around, the existing foliage might be too far from the light source to get enough sunlight to sustain it.

Protect Them from Pests

Certain insects such as mealybugs and spider mites love to come out when the drier air hits, wreaking havoc on your plants. Gnats or small flies will also appear if overwatering is a problem.

Because you’ll be watering the plants less regularly than during the growing season, it’s crucial to inspect your plants at least every couple of days to make sure they have no new problems. If you do run into insect issues, try to treat them as soon as possible to keep the infestation from spreading to other plants.  

Give Plants the Season to Rest

Just like bears going into hibernation, plants need a little off-season every year where they’re not growing. During the winter, it’s best to hold off on fertilizing them until the sunshine of spring comes around. Fertilizing them when more natural sunlight is available will ensure that they enter the growing season on a solid note. Over-fertilizing while in dormancy can cause damage, and they may not grow as well down the road.

On that note, it’s also wise to hold off on transplanting them or putting them in a new pot. Again, it’s best to wait at least until the spring, when the plant will be able to make the transition more effortlessly.

Avoid shearing much or trying to propagate during the winter. Of course, removing some of the dead or yellowing pieces will not harm your plant. But if your aim is propagation, the plant will likely struggle more to regrow, and the clipping itself won’t do as well as if you were to wait for the warmer active growth season.

Do some winter cleaning

Turning on heating vents is a sure-fire way to ensure more dust gets into the air. All that extra dirt can cling to plants’ leaves and prevent them from getting all the nutrients they need. Depending on the type of plant, you should be able to give the leaves a light pat down with a soft, wet cloth.

Avid gardeners recommend cleaning your windows in winter. With fewer hours of sunlight in general, your plants need all the rays they can get. By cleaning your windows, you can make sure that every last drop of sunshine can break through and get to your plants.

Conclusion

Compared to the growing season, plant care in the winter is much more reserved. While it’s understandable to feel the need to care and feed them as much as you do in the summer, backing off a little and just being attentive will help indoor plants survive during winter. Survival is the goal.

In the winter, most plants go into dormancy periods. During dormancy plants, grow less and typically need less watering. To avoid overwatering, you should only water when your plant’s soil is dry inches beneath the surface. This can take a bit longer than it would during the warmer seasons, so be sure to check the soil each time before adding water.

When it gets cooler at night, we have the desire to crank up the heat. Try to keep temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit since it is the ideal range for most indoor plants. If that is still too cold for you, try adding a tiny space heater or fireplace in a room away from plants; or a personal heated blanket to stay warm.

During the winter months, sunlight hours become less and less. Plants need bright indirect sunlight to thrive; without it, they can become leggy and struggle significantly. To make up for dimmer days, add artificial growth lights to the area around your plants. There are many options to help find a growth light to fit your space. 

Humidifiers are necessary because when we turn on the heat, it tends to cause the air to dry out. Most plants need moisture content in the air to thrive. If the moisture levels plummet and you do not supplement what your plant is familiar with, it could die.

People think that only outdoor plants struggle in the winter. That is simply not the case. Indoor plants are also affected by temperature changes. To help indoor plants survive, there are some basic care instructions: keep plants a safe distance from freezing windows, clean windows to allow sunlight to penetrate easier, add a humidifier to keep the air moist, rotate your plant every few weeks to promote even growth, monitor for pests, and avoid overwatering or propagation.

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