Winter indoor gardening is a little different from other seasons. It’s always wonderful, having a house full of plants. It brightens the atmosphere, adds a touch of life to your decor, and makes the place feel vibrant. In the winter months, these good feelings we get from plants are more important. In short, when everything is dark and cold outside, it’s uplifting to watch your indoor garden thrive. However, plants require slightly different care during the cooler months. If you aren’t aware of their changing needs, you could end up killing your favorite plants.
Most plants grow slower during the winter and may enter a dormant period. Not every species is the same, though. It’s a good idea to know what your specific plants need so you don’t give them the incorrect care. Plants that flower in the winter, such as Easter lilies, winter jasmine, and African violets, may not experience this dormant period. Treat plants like this accordingly. Supplying these types of plants with fertilizer and the right amount of light can produce gorgeous winter blooms. On the other hand, doing the same for plants that have slowed their growth may actually kill them.
Watering for Winter Indoor Gardening
When the temperature drops, your plants will typically require less water. Not only are they not using as much water to grow, but there’s also less heat and sun. This causes excess water to evaporate into the atmosphere. An overwatered plant may be sitting in its own stagnant water for up to a week. And doing so is the number one way to cause root rot and fungus.
Now, this is not to say you should stop watering your plants. It’s possible you may not need to slow down at all. It depends on other factors in your environment. If your plants are getting plenty of light, or you’re using grow lights, your plants may still require regular watering. With the right conditions, they may still be actively growing well into the winter. Always check your plant’s soil before you water, and don’t water until the soil is dry at least half an inch under the surface.
Water and humidity may seem like they’re the same thing. However, in the winter, when you turn on the heat, there is less moisture in the air. Your plants may need less water in their soil but still require additional moisture in the air around them. Grouping your plants around a humidifier is a convenient, effective way to provide this moisture.
You can also mist your plants, but you’ll need to do this somewhat regularly. Misting tends to provide only temporary relief. Try placing your plants in the most humid areas of your house, such as your bathroom or your laundry room. This can help as well.
Light for Winter Indoor Gardening
As winter approaches, the hours of daylight begin to dwindle. The intensity of the light decreases too. And what sun is available is often hidden behind clouds. These reduced hours of sunlight can put your plants into a state of dormancy and slow growth. This is perfectly fine, but you’ll need to ensure they’re getting enough light to produce the food they require.
You may need to move your plants to brighter, south-facing windows in the winter. Or you might need to supplement their lighting with grow lights. However, if you’re moving your plants close to a window, keep in mind that temperatures near windows can drop significantly at night. This may harm your plants if they’re allowed to get too cold at night and experience these temperature changes.
Temperatures dropping in the cooler months can affect your plants in several ways. If your plants are in an area that you don’t heat, the environment might become too cold for them. This is also true if they’re situated next to a window or a door that opens to the outside.
It’s also possible for your plants to get too hot in the winter. They can become dried out due to electric heating, wood stoves, and fireplaces. As with cold drafts, plants should not be placed next to warm blasts of air. Indoor heating can also reduce the humidity in your home. If this is the case, your plants will need a consistent source of moisture.
Plants generally enjoy temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60-70 degrees at night. They can handle warmer temperatures if they get plenty of light. However, if it’s too warm or the lighting is reduced, they may become weak or yellowish.
Fertilizer for Winter Indoor gardening
As your plant’s growth slows, their nutrient requirements drop as well. They will pull fewer minerals from the soil and won’t require fertilizer when they aren’t growing as much. In fact, fertilizing in the winter can lead to a buildup of salts in the soil. This can cause fertilizer burn, turning your plant’s leaves yellow or brown.
Of course, this does not apply to plants that are still actively growing, blooming, and fruiting in the winter. Plants that experience an active growth period during winter can be fertilized as usual.
Winter Indoor Gardening - The Wrap-up
No single factor can be adjusted to care for your plants properly during the winter. It’s not a matter of simply watering them less. It’s more a balancing act. Ensure your plants are getting the right combination of water, humidity, light, and tolerable temperatures. When one aspect of their environment changes, the others will need to be adjusted accordingly. That’s is how you maintain the perfect atmosphere for your indoor garden.