How to prepare houseplants for the Winter
With cooler days now upon us, it’s time to prepare your houseplants so that they survive the Winter and thrive for months to come. Winter is a tranquil time of year for your houseplants, where they require less maintenance, but still appreciate a little attention. From one houseplant lover to another - here’s a few practical tips that you can implement over these frosty and sombre months.
How often should you water plants in the Winter?
It’s easy to kill your plants with kindness in the Winter. By kindness, I’m referring to over-watering. There is a common misconception that as the air is drier, your plants will be drier and therefore require more watering. While it’s true that the air will be drier, your plants do not need to be watered more. In fact, you should be watering them less.
During these months, your plants will become dormant and their growth rate will significantly slow down. Think of it as them going into hibernation for a few months. So, if you only take one thing away today, let it be this – Reduce watering of houseplants during the Winter.
We would recommend:
- Water once a fortnight for general, robust houseplants
- Water once a month for succulents
- Do not water Cactus’ in the Winter
In saying this, all plants have different needs so monitor them periodically to see how dry they are. Instead of just looking at the top of the soil to see if it’s dry, you may need to poke your finger in a few cm to check the water levels below the surface. If you suspect a drought coming on, it’s time to bring out the watering can.
Don’t let your house plants sit in water over the Winter as this will make them highly susceptible to root-rot. During these cooler months, it will be harder to dry out the roots if they do rot, which could lead to your plant dying. To avoid shocking the roots, use water that is the same temperature as the air.
How much light do house plants need in the Winter?
Not only do our homes receive less sunlight hours during the winter, but the sun will also be lower. This impacts whether light will reach rooms that it previously streamed into. Therefore, you may need to relocate your plants around the house so that the sun is more likely to reach them.
An ideal location for your plants would be a south or west-facing window that remains sunny for majority of the day. Avoid windows that are prone to a frost as this will dramatically affect the living temperatures of your plants.
Sheer curtains are a great option that will allow your plants to get all the light they need whilst avoid rays of the direct sun, as this may lead to burnt leaves. If you notice your plant starting to lean toward the sun, you should periodically rotate it so that it gets light from all angles.
Humidity & Temperature
It goes without saying that when Winter rolls around, heat pump and radiator usage ramps up. Be wary that this may dry out the environment, which will shock your plants. Fluctuations in temperatures can damage your houseplants just as much as a long period of heat or cold. If you have any plants sitting in zone for a blast from the air-con, these will need to be moved as they will dry out too quickly. Oil heaters or panel heaters are not so bad as they are not directly projecting air.
Alternatively, some rooms that do not require heat pump usage will feel the affects of the frost. You may need to move any plants living here to a warmer room. You can also group your plants together when you move them as this makes it easier to keep them all the same temperature.
Can you re-pot houseplants in the Winter?
If you haven’t re-potted your houseplants yet, you may be leaving it a bit late. It’s not recommended to re-pot houseplants while they are dormant as they will not be able to expend energy to grow into their new pot. As your houseplants won’t be growing over this time, they should be able to last the Winter in the pot they are already in.
For the same reason, it’s also not recommended to re-pot any cuttings during these cooler months. You will be best to keep the cuttings growing over Winter, then make a day out of re-potting them once Winter ends. Keep the cuttings warm and they should be just fine come Spring.
Should you dust houseplants in the Winter?
When dust gathers on leaves, this can act as a barrier to light getting in where needed. In order for your houseplants to absorb as much as light as possible in the Winter, they need to be clean and free of dust build up. We would recommend using a clean, damp cloth with warm water to gently remove any dust mites. Clean leaves are more likely to photosynthesize and breathe freely, leading to healthy, happy plants.
How often should you feed houseplants in the Winter?
As mentioned, Winter is a time for your plants to go into hibernation to preserve their energy for growing in the warmer months. They have become dormant and don't require as many nutrients. If you have a warm house, a little bit of fertiliser once a month is plenty. If your house is colder, ease off the feeding over Winter and start fertilising again once the days get a bit longer and the temperatures start to go up again (late August).
6 Quick tips for houseplant care in the Winter
- Reduce watering to once a fortnight for general plants, once a month for succulents
- Do not let your house plant sit in water as this can lead to root-rot
- Move your plants so that they are optimized to get the most sunlight
- Dust the leaves so that your plant can photosynthesize and breathe
- Remove plants that are in line with breeze from the air-con
- Do not feed, fertilise or repot