Whether the potted plants you own live indoors all year round or have been brought inside to seek temporary shelter from cooler (sometimes harmful) climates, you’ll want to do all you can to help them thrive.
If they begin to look a little sad once you’ve brought them indoors, you may be wondering what you are doing wrong. Your plants may have also gone dormant. Regardless of whether you’re nursing something fastidious such as an African violet or a hardy Mother in Law’s tongue, here’s a little advice on how to provide winter plant care that can perk up winter-frazzled houseplants…
Place houseplants in the sunniest spot you can find in your home and you may even wish to move them to follow the sun. If you need to move larger, heavier pots, use a rolling plant stand to do so. The majority of plants will not flourish in a north-facing window because they require more sunlight than is provided in this location. The best possible spot is an east-facing window; as plants placed here will be in sunlight for far longer and this light is less harsh than that of a west-facing window.
Hold back on the water
A number of plant species only require water once per week in the winter months. They’ll likely go dormant, particularly if they are plants that grow outdoors in the summer months, as they will have moved from bright light and warmer temperatures into a home with lower lighting and cooler temperatures.
For best results use a watering can with a long spout, as this will direct a measured stream of water to the houseplant in question. Good winter plant care means you should avoid overwatering, as this can cause root rot and other diseases in certain plants.
Outdoor plants experience many elements, including the likes of fog, rain, and mist. This is somewhat different from the environment available indoors. The air is often much dryer due to heating systems too. To help them adapt, give them a little spritz every few days using a mister. This will help to keep your houseplants happy.
Mix up a tonic
Just like outdoor plants, indoor plants are susceptible to diseases and tackling them is a key part of winter plant care. The most common disease being leaf spot–yellow, or brown spots that grow on an outer leaf and continue to move inwards. If your plants are suffering from such ailments, mix a tonic and spray it onto their leaves: a good tonic to try involves mixing four teaspoons of baking soda into around four liters of water.
To add moisture to the air, make a humidity tray for your plants. To do this, use a low-sided tray and place a shallow layer of pebbles into the tray. Add water to cover the pebbles. Once you’ve done this, place plant pots on top of the pebbles and put the tray in a warm spot, such as above a radiator.
Alternatively, you can invest in a desktop humidifier to direct moist air toward your plants. This is a great option if trying to protect plants in a home office or those you have invested in to add greenery to a desktop.
The majority of plants prosper when humidity levels are between 50% and 60%, however, inside a house, the humidity levels can drop below 35%. If this is the case, make your plants a little miniature greenhouse using a plastic bag to create a tent. You can also use a shallow tray filled with two inches of water and gravel, and set your potted plant inside it. As the water begins to evaporate, the humidity will begin to surround the plant creating the desired atmosphere.
It’s extremely important to keep plants clean, which makes dusting another essential of winter plant care. If they become dusty, which is only natural when placed indoors, this dust can prevent the plants from breathing. The dust can plug their leaves, which showcase little pores called stomata. Any leaves covered with dirt won’t get the full effect of sunlight and this will cause photosynthesis to slow down. This will have a detrimental effect on the plant’s lifespan. In the worst-case scenario, the plant could die.
If caring for smaller plants, giving them a bath in a sink using a sprayer will help to ensure plants receive the full effects of any winter sunlight, by ridding them of any dirt that may have formed on their leaves. Larger plants can be bathed in the shower. Simply wipe leaves with a damp sponge, shaking the plant slightly to remove excess water.
Ensure your plants are pest-free
Fungus gnats are a common attacker of indoor plants. To protect your plant from these pests, make your own sticky traps to capture these tiny black bugs. It’s easy to spot them as they fly directly above houseplants.
Other options include burying a garlic clove in the soil or creating an apple cider vinegar trap. You can also re-pot plants. When doing so, use new soil that is rich in nutrients.
Crank up the heat
Try to turn the heat up to a high temperature during the day, then to a much lower temperature at night. This will help to mimic outdoor temperatures, making the plants feel like they are in their natural environment. This will, in turn, encourage them to thrive, stay healthy and withstand the winter months, meaning you get to enjoy your plants for as long as possible.
It’s common for houseplants to go dormant in the winter months due to the change in the climate. It’s wise to cease fertilizing the plants when in dormancy. When the month of spring arrives, place dormant plants outside in a spot that receives warm sunshine and feed them a quality superfood such as sea kelp.
If you follow the above winter care plant tips, we hope you’ll be able to keep your plants in top condition throughout the winter months.