When caring for indoor plants, it is easy to think they are in a perfect little bubble, safe from outside factors and will grow if provided proper nutrition. However, that is not always the case. Indoor plants need maintenance, too, especially in the fall and winter seasons when growth slows, humidity takes a drastic drop, and sunlight hours weaken. Preparing plants for winter and fall is not something to overlook.
One of the most important things you can do when caring for indoor plants is learning about preparing plants for winter. The harshest months for plants are October through March. Daylight hours are at the lowest, sunny days are still often gloomy, and humidity levels can be as low as 10% when the heat is on in your home.
Preparing Plants for Winter
It is best to get your indoor plants ready for the upcoming seasons when September rolls around. Fall and winter can be hard on plants, even ones that thrive indoors.
If plants need pruning, repotting, fresh soil, a good rinse, or watering, do so before the cold and gloomier months.
Start checking plants observing which need added soil, plant food, and nutrients towards the end of Summer. Add fresh soil and plant food first during prep. Next, take plants into the shower, and with a light stream of lukewarm water, rinse off the leaves and stems, cleaning your plant and providing an excellent watering to prepare.
If indoor plants need pruning, go ahead and do so now. When preparing plants for winter, pruning before the cooler months is necessary because cutting off leaves in winter can cause your plants to die instead of the intent to help them become fuller and more luscious.
Removing cuttings for new plant growth is not ideal since many plants go dormant during the fall and winter seasons. Wait until Spring before potting new plants for optimal growth.
One of the biggest challenges during the fall and winter seasons for plants is the loss of sunlight. Some plants need 14 to 20 hours of daylight daily, yet cooler months make that nearly impossible.
Consider adding a growth lamp; having an LED light hanging above the plants can help remedy sunlight loss. LED lights are energy-efficient compared to fluorescent lighting, plus most lighting can be set on a timer helping provide what your plants need to thrive even in winter.
If installing artificial lighting for your indoor plants is not an option, move plants into a well-lit room near a window. Clean the window inside and out to maximize light penetration and keep curtains open during daylight hours to provide the most sunlight possible. Normally sunlight during the fall and winter seasons is not strong enough to burn plants, so keeping them in the path of direct sunlight is okay and beneficial.
When keeping plants near a window in cool seasons, avoid letting the foliage touch the windows. While it may be fine during the day, windows in the winter, especially at night, can cause plants to freeze.
Lastly, did you know that plants grow toward the sun? Regularly rotate any plants kept near windows or in the path of sunlight to encourage even growth.
Watering is also trickier during colder times of the year. Some plants become dormant or have extreme growth reduction when they are limited to heat and sunlight.
Artificial lighting can help keep your plants from becoming dormant and keep growth close to normal, but plants without artificial lighting will more than likely need to be watered less frequently than during warmer seasons.
Check your plants a minimum of once weekly to see if they need watering. The top of the soil may seem dry, but take your finger and push it into the soil an inch or two to see if it is still moist or dry and needs water. When watering plants during the year’s cooler seasons, use room temperature water to keep from freezing.
Overwatering can lead to root rot and cause fungus or bacteria resulting in killing your plant. Do not water your plant more than necessary in the winter months.
Humidity is a hurdle for plants in winter. Winter air is already drier; add that to the heat inside a home you can create a disaster for plants.
Humidity levels in the Sahara Desert are at an average of 25%, yet inside your home during the winter, humidity levels can be as low as 10%. Plants thrive when humidity levels are at 50%.
To remedy this problem, add a humidifier in the room where you keep your plants. If you usually have plants scattered around your home, it may be best to gather them in the same room temporarily. Humidifiers increase humidity levels in homes which plants need in winter. Taking humidifiers up a notch, move plants and humidifiers into bathrooms or kitchens. Steam from showers and boiling water are beneficial when trying to keep humidity levels up.
Some believe that misting plants with a spray bottle is all that’s needed to keep them growing at their full potential, but studies have shown that misting is a complete waste of time. Misting only works if done numerous times daily, which can be daunting.
A better option compared to misting is creating a humidity tray. Grab a clear plastic drain tray, place rocks inside, cover the bottom of the rock with water, and then place the pot on top of the rocks. Do not cover the rocks in the tray completely with water. Capillary action will come into play, causing water to move up the rocks and evaporate, offering plants necessary humidity.
Plants are particular about the temperature they prefer. Winter can cause drops in temperature and make you want to turn your fireplace or heat on full blast. To keep your plants from getting cold from air gusts when doors open or from burning near your fireplace, try keeping them in a room away from entryways and with a temperature setting between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Caring for Indoor Plants
Indoor plants are loved because they purify the air, enhance the appearance of a space, boost moods, increase creativity, and are known to reduce stress by producing a relaxing atmosphere.
Preparing plants for winter is an essential task to keep our beloved plants healthy, beautiful, and thriving.
Most definitely, plants can stay near windows during the cool seasons. However, keep foliage from touching the windows because windows can be cold enough to freeze the plants, especially at night. Keeping window curtains open during daylight hours is optimal since sunlight is duller in fall and winter.
Most indoor plants come from tropical regions and like warmer climates. The ideal thermostat setting for plants during the winter is between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to keep plants away from entryways and fireplaces to regulate their temperatures better.
Plants need humidity levels maintained near 50%. Cacti and palms can survive with lower humidity levels; however, humidity in homes can drop to 10% in winter, which is too low for even desert plants.
Cooler months are between October through March. It is best to start winter prepping plants in September. If plants need new or additional soil, repotting, or trimming, do so before October or wait until after March.
The top three most crucial steps for preparing indoor plants for winter are –
- Figure out the best sunlight option for your space. Create artificial lighting or find the room with the most direct sunlight during the available daytime hours.
- Create humidity. Humidity levels take a drastic hit when the weather is cold and indoor heat is on. Dry air sucks the life out of plants. Placing a humidifier near plants, moving plants into the bathroom or kitchen to absorb condensation from showers and boiling water, and creating a humidity tray are all good options.
- Plants do not usually absorb as much water during the winter unless provided artificial lighting. Be careful not to overwater during the cooler months. Check the plants’ soil by inserting your finger before watering. Overwatering can lead to rot, fungal, and bacteria growth.