Winter is a quiet time for plants, both inside and out of the house. While your houseplants don't have to deal with the same harsh conditions that your outdoor plants do, the growing conditions indoors also change in the winter, so you need to adjust your care.
Most houseplants go dormant in the winter. They stop growing new leaves and focus on establishing a healthier, more robust root system. With proper winter care, your sleepy cold-season plants will thrive when spring arrives.
Indoor winter air is dry, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you should water your houseplants more. Because plants grow slower in the winter, they need less water to stay hydrated. If you stick with the same watering schedule that you use in the summer, you'll end up overwatering.
To determine if your plant really needs water, put your finger into the soil an inch or two below the surface to see if it's dry.
Dry air is one of the most challenging things about the winter for plants, but there are many ways to increase the humidity. A humidifier is the most effective, but if you don't have one, try one of these other hacks.
Clustering your plants in groups and placing them in naturally more humid rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom, can keep them from drying out. You can also use a pebble tray. Place stones in the bottom of a tray and fill the tray with water. The pebbles will keep the roots out of the water, and as the water evaporates, it keeps the air around the plants moist. Just be mindful of bugs and mold with this method, since it calls for standing water.
Some people mist their plants combat the dry winter air, but misting isn't really that effective — it provides only temporary relief. The water evaporates quickly, so you need to mist frequently for it to have any effect.
Misting can also become a bad habit. As the weather warms up and the humidity returns, misting can introduce too much moisture, leading to fungal problems. Most plants prefer not to have wet leaves.
Sunlight changes in two crucial ways in the winter. There's less of it, and it comes into your home at a lower angle. Low-light plants may be able to tolerate the changes, but be prepared to relocate plants that need more light.
Choose a south-facing window that gets sun all day, but don't place plants too close to the glass., as any cold air coming in can damage them. Rotate them regularly to support even growth and avoid any legginess or leaning.
Don't fertilize your plants in the winter. Most plants are dormant in cold weather, and giving them fertilizer will stimulate growth and alter the natural growth cycle.
Wait until the weather warms and active growth resumes before fertilizing. When you start seeing new leaves or other signs of new growth, it's safe to begin feeding your plants again.
Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can stress your houseplants any time of year, but there is more risk of exposure in the winter. Cold outdoor air can rush through drafty windows and open doors, and the heat from vents or radiators can be too much if your plants are too close.
Most houseplants go dormant in the winter due to less sunlight. Dormancy doesn't necessarily mean that the plants stop growing, but they do shift their focus from putting out new leaves or flowers to growing a stronger root system.
Winter is a good time to remove any dead leaves, but be careful not to trim healthy growth. Doing so can stimulate active growth, forcing the plant out of dormancy.
You should always try to keep the leaves of your plants clean, but doing so is especially important in the winter. Plants need their leaves to get energy from the sun. The amount of available sunlight is already significantly lower in the winter, and dust and dirt on the leaves of your plants reduce the amount of sunlight they get even more.
Use a soft, damp cloth to dust off the leaves every week or so to ensure they get as much light as possible.
Don't panic if your plants lose a few leaves. Leaf loss is expected in the winter. Because your houseplants get less light and produce less food, leaf loss is nothing more than your plant adjusting to the new environment.
Deal with this change by trimming off some older growth, which will also help the plant come back fuller when new growth begins in the spring.
Don't do anything to stress your plants in the winter. Specifically, do not repot them. Repotting houseplants in the winter can shock them significantly, and they may not come back from it when the warm weather returns.
The best time to replant houseplants is in the summer when they are actively growing. Because they are more active, they will be less affected by stress.