Gardeners often move potted plants indoors when the weather becomes cool. This can be a good technique, as long as a few steps are taken to ensure that indoor plants remain healthy and vigorous throughout the season. Here are a few tips for how to care for houseplants in winter.
Humidity in homes during winter tends to be lower than what houseplants would prefer.
- If you have a humidifier, place houseplants nearby.
- If you do not have a humidifier, there are a couple of solutions.
- Group plants together near a damp area such as the shower.
- Place a tray of water below or near the plant. However, make sure the pot is raised above the tray and not soaking the houseplant.
- Move houseplants away from window sills and drafty areas. Many are subtropical and sensitive to cold temperatures.
- Houseplants do not like fluctuating temperature areas either; such as fireplaces, stoves, and heat vents.
- The ideal daytime temperature is 65 to 75 degrees F. The ideal nighttime temperature is 50+ degrees F.
- Move the houseplants near windows or areas where sunlight is available.
- Clean off the dust from the leaves monthly. (see Cleaning)
- If needed, use artificial light such as fluorescent bulbs to provide light and heat.
- Ten to fourteen hours of typical fluorescent office-type lighting is considered medium light. High-intensity light occurs within 2 ft. of a south-facing window from Oct. to March.
- Reduce the frequency of watering by half.
- Only water when the soil is dry. Check at least an inch below the surface for dryness.
- Do not water with cold water; use tepid water instead.
- Do not fertilize during winter. Instead, wait until spring to begin fertilizing houseplants.
- Fertilize only if plants show signs of deficiencies.
- Clean the dust off the houseplants at least once a month.
- Use a damp sponge and gently wipe the leaves of the houseplant.
- Treat plants with insecticidal soap before moving them indoors, to ensure that no insects come inside with the plants.
- Pests like aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies can quickly build up in large numbers on plants when they are moved inside. Be vigilant and treat immediately.
Don’t forget about the importance of winter mulching. Check out our article Guide to Winter Mulching.