Winter Houseplant Care: How To Keep Your Plants Alive 


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Winter can be an interesting time to be a plant parent. There are a lot of different hurdles to overcome and not everyone’s experience will be the same. Some may experience chronic dryness and leaf loss, while others may experience melting leaves and pest invasions. Others still may not have any issues at all. It just depends. Everyone’s experience is unique. Winter does not have to be a stressful time for plants. With the right tools and the right care, you can actually have happy, thriving plants in the wintertime. Plants can still be a source of joy and contentment and we have a few tips on how to accomplish that for you today.

Adjust Plant Placement

You may have to adjust the placement of your plants. You may have to change the location of your plants due to lighting conditions. There may be less light, so you have to move your plants closer to the window. There may be less light, so you have to get a grow light. Certain rooms may get too cold for certain plants. You may have to shuffle them out. A drafty bathroom, for example, is not going to be the best place for warmth-loving tropical plants like a Calathea, but it may be a good place for a fern. It really just depends. But just keep in mind your plant’s needs and how the rooms in your environment are going to change with the winter conditions and adjust accordingly.

Temperatures Winter Houseplant Care

If you can’t move these plants, then you need to pay attention to the temperatures. Do you need a heat mat? Do you need a heater? Is there a way that you can close off certain vents so they’re not blowing directly on your plants? Do you need to pull the plants away from the window because you have a big frost storm coming and your windows (even though they’re double-paned) are going to get cold? If you have single-pane windows, then your windows will actually get frost on them on a regular and you want to make sure your plants are not touching them anyway. Just pay attention to the temperatures because cold can really do a lot of damage to your plants. However, if you can keep them toasty warm, then that is going to help them quite a bit.

Choose Your Tools Wisely

Another thing that is crucial to the care of your plants in the wintertime is choosing the proper tools. Choose your tools wisely. Make sure that the tools that you’re getting are going to be ones that are going to work for you. For example, if you’re getting a heat map, make sure that it’s the size you need or a little bit larger. Don’t get too small of a heat map because it may not fit all of the plants that you need.

Another thing to keep in mind is if you need to get a heater, make sure that the heater is not something with ceramic plates or that if it has ceramic plates, you’re keeping it away and you’re upping your humidifier. Make sure that you have a humidifier because in winter and the air does dry out quite a bit, with the heaters going, your humidity is probably going to drop. You want to make sure that you have a humidifier that’s going to fit your spaces.

If you have to do any pest treatment, make sure that you have the proper equipment to handle that. Make sure that you have ordered all your pest treatment sprays. Also make sure that you have your clothes. Make sure that you’re wiping down leaves. All of these things are going to come together for you. And having the proper tools to be able to do this is going to make your life so much easier and make sure that it actually gets done. A lot of times people stop caring for their plants because their plants stop growing as much in the wintertime and then they don’t have the proper tools which make things more difficult than it needs to be.

Water With Purpose

Next, we want to talk about watering with purpose in the wintertime. Because plants are not growing so much. A lot of us think that we need to give our plants more water or things are drying out a little bit faster, so we think we need to give them more water. This can be the case. We just have to pay attention to our plant’s needs because they’re not getting as much light, they’re not growing as much, they’re not using as much water, but they also may be drying out quite a bit more.

So if you have plants in terracotta pots, and these plants are something like a California or Fernor even a monstera, they’re going to want more water than some of the other plants in a plastic pot that are not drying out as much. If your plant is drying out too much, too fast for you to keep up with watering, you can do things like put it in a plastic pot. You can use a cash pot where you tuck a nursery pot inside another pot. You just have to be careful because certain plants don’t like to sit in the water while other plants do. Just be mindful of your watering and how you’re watering and then your plant is going to be good.

Clean Your Leaves

Did briefly mention this earlier, but cleaning your leaves is another crucial, crucial thing because everybody is inside in the wintertime, and there is going to be a lot of dust build-up. There’s a lot of people bringing things in, a lot of people tracking to the breeze, a lot of people shedding skin cells. All kinds of things go into dust.

Also with plants drying out faster, and then you might have heaters blowing and fans blowing, these things are going to blow all over your plants. That dust is going to settle on your foliage and your plants are going to get very dirty. So you can take some insecticidal soap or even just some water, any warm wet clothes.

Just wipe your leaves down and get that dust off. The dust is going to clog their pores and prevent them from absorbing the nutrients they need. It is also going to prevent them from soaking in the little bit of light that they are getting, which is also going to slow growth and hinder the plant. If you can clean the leaves regularly, you’re going to see more growth faster from your plant. Even in the wintertime when you’re cleaning your leaves, if you can spray them down with insecticidal soap, make sure that you’re going to be doing that.

Pretreat For Pests

You want to pretreat for pests as much as possible, especially in February, January, and February areas when you’re going to see a lot of plants, they will be stressed out from the drying out. There will normally be a lot less light than there was a few months ago at this point. And plants are just going to finally have had enough of it and the pests are going to start to win.

And the plants are going to need a little bit of help recovering from that. So you want to make sure that you are retreating from spider mites with insecticidal soap. Just check your plants regularly and also use natural predatory bug treatments as well. We have a whole video on all the different ways to treat all the different pests. So if you are experiencing pests, definitely go take a look at that and it can break some things down for you.

Humidity Winter Houseplant Care

Next, we want to talk about your humidity. If your humidity is higher, it can generally prevent pests. Spider mites can survive in higher humidity and even thrive in it, but the majority of the other pests cannot. It also enables your plant to be stronger and absorb more nutrients even in the wintertime, especially if you have things like a monstera hoya.

They’re all going to be absorbing nutrients through little aerial roots and whatnot. They’re all going to be absorbing nutrients through their foliage. And humidity carries these nutrients and it’s then absorbed by the plant. So humidity is very crucial, definitely something to keep in mind. You will also need to make sure that there is some sort of airflow so a humidifier can create airflow for you. And then you can also disperse the humidity with a fan too, so that way it kind of spreads throughout your room.

Depending on the size of the humidifier and the size of your room, plants will also create their own little humidity bubbles. So your humidity, depending on your own personal environment, may already be high enough. Definitely get one of these little tools so that way you can keep an eye on your humidity and your humidity can stay where you want it to based on your own plants’ needs in your environment.

To Fertilize or Not To Fertilize

Speaking of nutrients your plants absorb, let’s talk fertilization. A lot of times you will see recommendations to not fertilize your plants in the winter. It really depends on the plant. If the plant is still growing, it’s still producing leaves, or if it is a fruiting or flowering plant, definitely make sure that you were still fertilizing it because those plants are absorbing a lot of nutrients. You’re going to have leaf drops and you’re going to lose foliage if you don’t have fertilizer for it. Or the plant could take so much energy and nutrients from itself without it being replenished that it’s not going to make it the rest of the winter. So maybe a lower dose of fertilizer.

Make sure that you’re still giving your plants nutrients as long as they’re still growing. If they appear to slow down and completely stop, then you can stop fertilizing until about the end of winter, beginning of early spring, or when you start to see other plants kind of perking up, then maybe start to add a little bit more to that one as well. It really just depends on the plant. Plants do need a rest period, so you don’t have to fertilize them all the time. Don’t try to push growth if they really don’t want to grow in the wintertime.

Sometimes they just need a break, and this is the normal time for them to do that, and that’s fine. They’ll grow lusher and they’ll double their production next summer. If you give them a winter break now, it’s kind of like a mini vacation. So fertilize, not fertilize, just depends on the plant and the situation there, but it’s definitely not something that’s completely off the table.

Leaf Drop Winter Houseplant Care

I did just mention this. Leaf drop is a real thing. Do not be too concerned if you have foliage dropping with less light. You are going to have leaves that are dropping. With plants that are drying out and more plants that are getting colder, there is going to be leaf drop. It just depends on the plant and how they are going to handle it.

For example, if you moved your fiddle leaf fig or your fiddle leaf fig is suddenly getting hardly any light whatsoever, they are going to drop all but about the top two leaves. That’s just how it is. It doesn’t matter the size of the plant. It just really is going to drop leaves, but it’s normal for a lot of other plants as well. Just let the plant use up the nutrients from that leaf. As soon as it turns brown or really, truly yellow and doesn’t have any more green, or any chlorophyll, it is not going to be producing any energy for the plant anymore, and you can go ahead and remove it at that time.

Winter plant care is not a size fits. There are a lot of different things that you can pick and choose from this list that is going to work best for you. Plant care is very unique to your individual needs, so you don’t have to use all of the tips. Just take the tips you need and that is okay.


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