Winter House Plant Tips

Posted at 12:47pm on January 10, 2018

January and February are some the hardest months on house plants. Low light, low humidity, and pests can be issues that are often overlooked during this time. Many house plants end up with the winter blues. However, there are a few tips that will really help keep your house plants looking their best when spring rolls around.

First, make sure to give house plants enough light. In the winter months the days are short and the angle of the sun is low. Use a plant stand to lift plants up off the ground. Keep an eye on what places get the most sun in the winter and strategically place plants there. Beware of putting plants too close to drafty windows or places that are very cold. Pull open blinds and shades as often as possible. Also rotate plants 180 degrees every month to keep the plant growing symmetrically.

Second, make sure to keep a semi humid environment. Heating systems pull a great deal of moisture from the air making many tropical plants unhappy. This can also make watering more of a challenge or more inconsistent. For example, it is often the surface of the soil is dry but the lower roots are soaked. Self-watering systems or stakes (like the Plant Nanny), moisture meters, and placing the plant away for direct heat vents can be very helpful to regulate moisture. Using mister bottles is a great option for tropicals, air plants, and orchids. A small area humidifier also works well. Make sure to keep plants away from direct heat sources. Blowing air will cause leaves to dry and curl.

Third, give plants a bath. Dust and dirt collect on leaves. This can reduce the amount of light they are able to capture, and clog the pores plants use to take in CO2. I like to take my plants to the sink or shower and rinse them off every month. After they dry I remove any dead or unattractive leaves or stems. Then I spray them with neem oil. This Helps prevent insects and disease. Plus, a light coat makes the leave shine and look beautiful.

Keep in mind that house plants are less actively growing during this time of year. This means if they come under stress they will take longer to recover. Also this means house plants need much less nutrients during this time of year. Use a very low number fertilizer or discontinue fertilizing until mid-March or April. Nutrients will not replace sunlight. Overtime unused fertilizer can build up in the soil, eventually causing injury to the plant. Also try and water with purified or distilled water to reduce chlorine damage and salt build up in the soil. If tap water is the only option allow to sit for 24 hours before watering the plants. This allows the chlorine to evaporate. Simple monthly maintenance and keeping a close eye on your plants will save some recovery in spring. Plus it will keep your plants looking great all season long.

Written for The Green Thumbers by Elaine Hutchinson