How can I take care of houseplants in the winter?

Most houseplants prefer temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, but it can get pretty cold on the windowsills in the wintertime. Moving the plants away from the windows risks reducing the amount of sunlight they receive, and that can damage them, too. 

  Topic Around the House Subtopic Gardening
3 Months 1 Answer 314 views
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Sarah C

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  1. Give them the appropriate level of sunlight, the appropriate amount of water and do not over-pamper with either water or food.

    In most places winter is not a time of growth, so try not to stress your plants with too much water for its root system which is no longer growing, or feed it to encourage growth at a time when it would not usually grow. Light levels are the plant's biological alarm clock: Sunrise and set, elevation and angle of sunlight and strength is ultraviolet levels all tell the plant what it should be doing. This means, if you are giving your plant winter sun through a southeast facing window, that light is telling it one thing, but if you are feeding it also, it is being told something else.  Try not to confuse your plant like that.

    Also, realize some plants hate to be moved.  Ficus is one of those- they will throw a leaf-dropping fit if moved, so it would be better to simply allow it to winter in a seasonal dark spot than cause it to go into plant hysterics.  If it shows some distress (I can't imagine it would, but they are hissy-fit plants sometimes) from lack of light, consider a grow lamp on it for a couple hours a day. 

    Some plants LOVE the cooler time and lower light of winter- like the pink-polka-dot plant and the azalea.  Just make sure they have enough water and they'll thrive.  African violets will, too.  Most ferns will be very happy over winter in your house.  About the only thing to really watch for is your humidity levels-  your heater will likely dry the air some, which will cause plants' soil to dry out quickly;  to combat this, either mist each plant a bit daily or so, or place the plants on large cookie sheets containing gravel and an inch or so of water to humidify the area around them. 

    I live in the desert southwest, but we do freeze here at least once each winter, so most of my plants must come in.  They all cozy up in the breakfast nook, are watered weekly, and most at least hang in there over winter.  Even my bougainvillea has made it through a couple times-  which always amazes me because it HATES coming in.  If I thought it would work, I would leave it out this winter to teach it a lesson but that would be the last lesson it ever learned, so no fun in that.

    Do remember to re-acclimate to the outside any plants which you bring inside for winter, but otherwise, houseplants should be fine with a light feeding next Spring, and a return to growth-prompting light levels.  Good luck!

    UTC 2020-10-07 08:08 PM 0 Comments

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