Winter Houseplant Care

Winter is a difficult time for houseplants, and as a result, many plants enter a rest period during the winter. Winter brings short daylengths, reduced humidity, and low temperatures. The growth of many plants will slow during this period, and some plants may even enter a dormany period.

With proper care, houseplants can be maintained during the wintertime. However, be alert for problems associated with low humidity, temperature extremes, and insect pests. Below are some winter care tips to keep in mind:

  • During the winter, most houseplants are not in an active growth phase. As a result fertilizer should not be applied during this time. If you feel the need to feed your plants, it should be done with a weak dilution of fertilizer, and infrequently during this season.

  • In many cases, watering can also be cut back during this season. Be sure to check the soil when you are watering your plants. If it feels moist, you can wait a few more days before watering.

  • Certain houseplants (For example, indoor bulbs such as amaryllis, some orchids, etc.) go through a dormant period during the cold weather months. Many plants with dormant periods are ones which adapted to a "dry season" in the natural environment where they evolved. These plants are deciduous, and will loose their leaves during their dormancy period. During the dormant period (which often occurs in winter), plants should not be watered at all, or else very infrequently. Some bulbs will benefit from being placed in a cool, dark location when they are dormant. Be sure to read about your plants individual care needs to learn about how it should be treated.

  • Be aware of temperature extremes during the winter season. Some plants may be particularily sensitive to cold drafts, or cold window panes. In addition, the warm, dry heat of home heating systems may cause plants to dry out faster than usual.

  • Home heating also takes a toll on humidity levels. The humidity level in homes can drop dramatically during the winter season, making living conditions uncomfortable for both humans and plants. Plants may show signs of low humidity stress, such as brown leaf tips, and increased pest infestation. For more information on how to raise the humidity levels, please see PlantOasis's article on humidity.

  • Insect pests may continue to be a serious problem during the winter season. Be sure to check all plants for signs of infestation. For more information, please see PlantOasis's article on houseplant pests.

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