9 essential tips for houseplant care over winter

Houseplants are a great choice to brighten up your indoor décor, especially over winter when outdoor gardens are cold and bleak. With so many varieties available, there are many ways to creatively decorate your home with houseplants.

Just like ordinary plants, houseplants need special care to keep them healthy and lush during the colder months. Whether you already have houseplants or are thinking of investing in some, here are 9 essential tips for houseplant care over winter.

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1. Reduce watering

Reducing watering is one of the most important tips for houseplant care over winter. Many people make the mistake of regularly watering their houseplants. However, this is not necessary during the winter months. As there is less light during this time of year, your houseplants will photosynthesize less and, therefore, use less water.

Overwatering during the winter can have adverse effects. It can prevent a plant from properly respiring due to a lack of oxygen. It can also result in soil microorganisms producing harmful toxins that can damage or even kill the plant. To avoid this, check to see how damp the soil is before watering. Stick your finger about 1 inch (or 2.5cm) into the soil.

If it’s moist, you can hold off on the watering for a couple more days. If the soil is dry, your plant would appreciate a little watering! Another method you could consider for watering your plants is bottom watering.

2. Clean the leaves

Cleaning the leaves of your houseplants is another essential tip for houseplant care over winter. You may be thinking, why? Well, the answer is dust. No matter how much you dust your home and keep it clean, it can still build up on houseplant leaves.

Some plants are more susceptible to dust build-up than others. For example, snake plants can accumulate a thick layer of dust that can be a perfect nesting place for plant pests. Things like spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs can all start feasting on your houseplants.

Removing dust on the leaves is important as this can impact how much sunlight the plant can absorb. With reduced light already in winter, you don’t want to make it harder for your houseplants to photosynthesise.

You have two options to clean the leaves of your houseplants and prevent dust build-up. The first is simple soap and water. Spray a small amount onto the leaf and wipe from top to bottom. You can also remove any dead leaves here as well.

The other method is to apply a thin layer of neem oil to give your plant a shiny protective coating. Add some neem oil to a foliar spray during misting. Misting helps increase the humidity around the plant for a short time. The neem oil gives a protective layer that will limit dust and kill pests.

Investing in a misting bottle is a top tip for terrariums.

3. Give them light

With the shorter days and wetter weather, we all wish for more sunlight in the winter. The same goes for your houseplants. Sunlight forms a vital part of their natural processes to survive. Without sunlight, your plants cannot produce energy to grow and thrive.

Typically, a houseplant should get at least 5 hours of light daily. During the shorter winter days, you may want to consider moving houseplants to a conservatory or by a window. That way, your plants can get all the necessary sunlight to keep them healthy.

4. Don’t use cold water

While you may not need to water your plants as much during winter, you must be careful how you water them. Not only is ensuring your plants are sufficiently watered, but you also need to avoid using cold water.

Despite colder temperatures during winter, using cold water on your houseplants can shock the plant roots. If you get water from the tap, let it warm first. Boiling water will also harm your plant, so don’t warm the water too much.

5. Avoid feeding nutrients

Avoid feeding your houseplants nutrients during the winter months. At this time of year, houseplants are not actively growing and therefore don’t require the same level of nutrients as in the summer.

Excessively feeding plants with nutrients during this time can lead to salt build-up in the soil. Plants can also experience root burn and disruption to their natural growth cycle. Give all your houseplants one last nutrient feed during the autumn, and then avoid feeding them again until spring.

6. Monitor the temperature

It can get pretty cold at this time of year, but we’re not the only ones to feel extreme temperature changes. Your houseplants feel it too, and not for the better. Monitoring the temperature is another essential tip for houseplant care over winter.

Conditions such as a draft, cold air, sudden temperature changes, or heat can stress houseplants and cause them damage. Keep plants away from open windows, doors, and radiators to prevent this.

7. Look out for pests

Outdoor plants are not the only ones susceptible to pests. Your indoor plants can also be an appealing treat for some nasty pests. That’s why another essential tip for houseplant care over winter is to look out for pests and get rid of them to prevent leaf damage.

Overwatering and humidity levels are two of the biggest factors that can lead to pests infecting your houseplants. The best way to prevent these little pests from nibbling your houseplants is to thoroughly check each time you water, including under the leaves.

Depending on the pest will determine the best treatment to get rid of them. Most pests can be dealt with using neem oil or an insecticidal soap. This is effective for pests such as scales, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids. Other pests can be removed by using an alcohol spray.

8. Monitor the humidity

Typically, homes during the winter will have a humidity level between 10-20%. Yet houseplants require a humidity level of around 40%. There are two ways you can overcome this. The first is to cluster houseplants together as natural processes raise humidity levels.

The second method is to keep your houseplants on a tray filled with water and pebbles. Ensure the bottom of the plant pot is above the water level so root rot doesn’t become a problem. Then, as water evaporates, it naturally increases the humidity. No need for a humidifier!

9. Let plants sleep

Our last essential tip for houseplant care over winter is to let your plants sleep during their dormancy or semi-dormancy. Due to the reduced light over winter, many plants will become dormant or semi-dormant. As a result, plant growth slows, and nutrients are less required.

During this time, you must avoid repotting your houseplants. Switching a houseplant’s environment will disturb their rest period and stimulate new growth. The best time for repotting plants is in the spring, as plants start actively growing again and can better adapt to their new environment.

When plants are dormant, it’s a good idea to tidy up and prune your plants. Remove any present debris and cut dead, yellowing leaves while trimming damaged leaves. This encourages healthy spring growth and doesn’t waste nutrients on dead parts of the plant.

While houseplants may not need much attention and maintenance during winter, it’s still important to care for them. By following the tips above, you can be sure of keeping your houseplants healthy and thriving!

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