The colder darker months of winter can sometimes be difficult for your houseplants and some may not survive if in the wrong environment or given the wrong care. Below are some of our top tips to help you keep your houseplants happy and healthy over the winter months.
Move your plants closer to the window
Over the winter months, as the days get shorter, you want to maximise the amount of light that your houseplants are receiving. For plants that thrive in bright light, we recommend trying to move them to a spot a little closer to the window. Don’t worry as much about leaf burn as the sun is a lot weaker over winter.
Make sure that you check the light levels needed for each plant before moving them around too much as it can cause stress to your plant (yes humans aren’t the only ones who find moving house stressful).
Check windows and doors for drafts
Before moving your plants closer to the window, it’s important to check that there are no drafts of cold air coming through the cracks. Although fresh air is good for your plants, they will really struggle being exposed to the cold air from outside for long periods of time, especially at night where the temperature will really drop.
Move away from radiators or heating vents
Similarly to drafty windows and doors, you want to make sure to move your plants away from your radiators and heating vents. Over winter they will be on a lot more and the dry warm air can really harm your plants if they are right next to the radiator. A metre or so away is a good distance and should ensure that it doesn’t burn the leaves.
Raise the humidity levels
Over winter, when you have the heating on most days, the air in your home will become really dry. In order to keep your houseplants alive over winter, you’ll need to raise the humidity to combat the dry air. Luckily it can be pretty simple to increase the humidity for your houseplants over winter, here are our top tips:
Misting the leaves
One of the simplest ways to increase the humidity for your houseplants is to mist them with a spray bottle a couple of times a week. We recommend doing this in the mornings to give enough time for the water to evaporate before nightfall where excess water can cause the leaves to rot.
Place your houseplants over a tray of pebbles with fresh water over the top. Over the day water from the tray will evaporate giving your plant exactly what they’re looking for.
Give your plants a shower
To quickly raise the humidity and wash down your plant of any long-standing dust, you can always give them a quick shower. Simply pop them in the shower and wash them down with lukewarm water, this will clean off the leaves and give the soil a good soaking. You will want to keep the water pressure fairly low so you don’t cause any further damage to the leaves or stems.
Move your plants to the bathroom
If you’re lucky enough to have great lighting in your bathroom you can move your humidity-loving houseplants in there to increase the humidity. The running water from your showers means your bathroom is probably one of the most humid in your home and a great place for your houseplants to thrive in.
Buy a humidifier
They’re relatively affordable little devices and they make keeping a consistent humidity level so much easier. Most will allow you to place them on a timer so they run on a fixed schedule, and some will even have a built-in monitor so they automatically turn on and off to keep the humidity exactly where you want it.
Want to know more about how to raise the humidity for your houseplants? We have written a whole guide on this.
Water your houseplants less
One of the main things to take into consideration when caring for your houseplants over winter is to keep an eye out on the amount you are watering. On average your houseplants will need less water than in summer but this will fluctuate depending on how dry the air is from the heating.
Make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you water your plants. There are two really easy ways to make sure that they definitely need water. First check the moisture at the top of the soil, if it is still damp then wait a few days before watering again. You can also lift up your plants to check the weight of the plant before and after watering (probably best to only do this for smaller plants to avoid injuries). You will then start to be able to gauge how heavy the soil is when they are in need of water.
Don’t fertilise in winter
Although this won’t apply for all houseplants, as a rule we tend to steer clear of all fertiliser over autumn and winter. The best time to fertilise is in spring just before the growth period. So this gives you one less thing to think about.
Make use of available light
Moving plants closer to the windows in winter is one of the ways to maximise on the reduced amount of light over winter, but it’s not the only way. Cleaning your windows regularly allows for more sunlight to pass through and reach your plants so make sure to keep your window panes clean. Another method we use to maximise on the light over winter is dusting our houseplant’s leaves. Although this is best practice to do all year around, make sure you don’t forget to do it over winter as a build up of dust stops the sunlight getting to the leaves meaning they cant photosynthesise. Use a cloth with warm water (and a bit of soap if needed) and this should do the job.
Use artificial light
If your home doesn’t get much sunlight over winter and your plants seem to be struggling to adjust, then it might be worth investing in a grow light to give them an extra boost. They encourage flowering in certain plants and ensures your houseplants stay green all year round!
Artificial grow lights are also great for propagation and will increase your chances of success in winter. Note that normal light bulbs are not sufficient in stimulating houseplant growth and you need a fluorescent bulb. These can either be bought as lamps or just as bulbs that you can put into your current lamps.
Leave the repotting until spring
Another thing to avoid doing over winter is repot your plant. Growth slows when the temperature and light levels drop so you don’t need to worry about your plant outgrowing its pot until spring. You don’t want your houseplant going through any further stress by rehoming it as the slow growth means it won’t take to its new pot quickly and could lead to the plant becoming unstable.
By following these tips you should be able to keep your plants happy and healthy over winter. Don’t worry if growth slows or becomes a bit leggy, this is totally normal. The main thing is to maximise on the light that you do get in your home and keep an eye on watering and root rot.
Written by Joanna Turner