How to Care for Houseplants in Winter [Helpful Tips]

Everyone needs a little R&R, and for indoor plants, winter is the time to get it.

However, several winter stress factors can impact indoor plants, regardless of whether they are year-round houseplants or plants that have been brought inside.

These factors include temperatures that range from warm during the day to cold in the evening, dry air, and shorter days—which reduce the amount of light that the plants receive.

Even if they are kept in a temperature-controlled environment, the dangers that might jeopardize the lives of your houseplants throughout the winter months are still there.

As the season changes, your plant care routine should change inside.

Since winter’s cold, dark months are only a few months ahead of us, here’s some simple advice and pointers to help your houseplants survive and thrive.

Wrong season? Hop over to the summer plant care tips instead.

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Symptoms of Plant Shock Due to Cold Weather

  • Leggy Growth
  • Curled Leaves
  • Drooping Leaves
  • Leaves Discoloration
  • Wilting Leaves

Before You Get Started

The winter care requirements of various plant species may differ significantly; therefore, you should always do your research to understand the specific needs that apply to your plants.

The following advice is intended to serve as a general guideline; nevertheless, the particular requirements for amaryllis or poinsettia will vary from fast-growing Pothos or a potted geranium.

Plants indigenous to tropical rainforests with slight variations in the climate between summer and winter often have a different dormant period than plants indigenous to moderate zones.

While there are some basic principles to follow, you must keep in mind that the ultimate objective is to create an environment similar to the natural outdoor winter habitat of the plant.

Read Best Houseplants to Buy

Things You’ll Need

  • Materials
  • Plant Mister
  • Watering Can
  • Room Humidifier
  • Supplemental Grow Lights

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Adjust Your Watering Routine

When it comes to winter watering routine, most houseplants actually need less water during the winter, which is something that may seem backward to you.

Even though the air is drier in the winter, plant development is significantly slow at this time of year, and some species even enter a state of full dormancy.

As a result, plants need less water to maintain their hydration, and over-watering might cause the roots to rot.

Keep in mind that various plants have varying requirements for the amount of water they need. Certain drought-resistant plants, such as cacti and other succulents, may not need any watering.

On the flip side, other tropical plants may still need more consistent watering.

During the winter months, the top layer of soil may dry up more rapidly than usual, but this is not always an indication that the plant needs more water.

If the soil is dry one inch or two below the surface, you should get the watering can ready and give it a good soaking. You can determine the wetness at this level by sticking your finger into the soil.

Read How to Kill House Plant Bugs

Alter Humidity Levels

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Indoor plants struggle to overcome dry air and low humidity levels during the winter months. During this time, these levels can decrease to between 10 and 20 percent.

In contrast, plants prefer a level that is closer to 50 percent.

If you have a humidifier in your house, relocate your plants so that they can reap the advantages of having access to it. If not, you will need to find another way to increase the amount of humidity.

To begin, you should gather your plants together in clumps to make space for transpiration (when plants naturally release water via their leaves).

Hence, keeping many indoor plants nearby will maximize the amount of moisture collected.

Since the moisture is absorbed from showers and culinary activities, bathrooms and kitchens are some of the best places to keep your plants to maximize their growth potential.

Putting your plants on or near a tray of water is another tried-and-true method that you can use. However, you should not allow the plants to sit in the water directly.

Put some stones or pebbles in the bottom of the tray so that the water level in the tray is higher than the bottom of the pots, and then set the pots on top of the pebbles or stones.

The amount of humidity will rise as a result, but there will be no invitation for root rot.

You might also believe that gently sprinkling your plants with water will help them out, but this is only temporary relief.

Due to the high temperatures found inside (thanks to heating systems), it is necessary to mist the area numerous times each day to give your plants the moisture they need.

Give it a go if you just have a few plants and you believe you will be able to spray them with the utmost care.

Note that misting plants may cause fungal issues during the hot and humid summer months; however, this should not be an issue during the winter months.

Read How to Clean House Plant Leaves

Regulate Room Temperatures

Temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night are ideal for most plants, as they are for humans.

To ensure your plants live in these temperatures, you should keep them away from heat sources such as ovens, radiators, fireplaces, and electrical gadgets.

Alterations in temperature may be just as lethal to houseplants as sustained exposure to either heat or cold for more extended periods.

Plant TypeRoom TemperatureExamples
  Tender Plants  60°FCissus Discolor, Anthurium, Acalypha, Calathea, Dizygotheca, Saintpaulia, Dieffenbachia, Syngonium, Caladium,
      Non-Hardy Plants      50°- 55°FAraucaria, Asparagus, Begonia, Aphelandra, Bromeliads, Schefflera, Citrus, Kalanchoe, Coleus, Ferns, Ficus, Gynura, Hoya, Maranta, Philodendron, Dracaena, Monstera, Orchids, Palms, Pandanus, Peperomia, Sansevieria.
    Hardy Plants    40°- 45°FAspidistra, Tradescantia, Hedera, Chlorophytum, Clivia, Cuphea, Fatshedera, Grevillea, Vines, Fatsia, Saxifraga, Helxine, Laurus, Pelargonium, Succulents, Yucca.

Follow the Sun

Winter comes with only a few hours of daylight, and the rays arrive at their points of entry at a more acute angle. Therefore, you must move houseplants to a brighter space.

A window facing south or west and receiving sunlight throughout the day is ideal. However, avoid moving plants too close to a drafty window since this might lead to wind damage.

Give the pots roughly a quarter of each rotation when you water your plants.

This prevents some branches from extending in an attempt to reach the light and ensures that the plant receives equal amounts of sunlight on all of its surfaces.

Dust and dirt can also limit how much sunlight hits your plants’ leaves. Therefore, you need to get rid of this dust as soon as possible.

You can remove dust from the plant’s leaves by wiping them down with a moist cloth. This will give your plants improved access to light over the winter.

Increase the Light

In the winter, the sun sets sooner, lower in the sky, and is more likely to be obscured by clouds. During this period, be sure to give your houseplants enough light.

Plants already in their present space will likely be able to cope with the seasonal shift, while others may need repositioning closer to the window, their primary light source.

If your plants seem to be sagging toward the window, try rotating them every few days. Move plants closer to the window sill if their new growth is slender.

A supplemental grow light may also offer some additional illumination to the environment.

Read How Often Should I Water a Houseplant?

Embrace Dormancy

Do you find yourself constantly feeling sleepy, particularly in winter? Plants do, too⁠—by falling into a dormant or semi-dormant condition.

When it comes to watering your plants, this will fluctuate depending on the quantity of light they get. You’ll need to water less often than you did throughout the growing season in the summer.

As discussed above, wait until the potting soil is dried before watering again. Also, wait until your plants display obvious signs of dehydration, such as wrinkled leaves on succulents or drooping stems on tropical soil, in combination with arid soil.

Keep Them Squeaky Clean

While it’s true that open windows let in more fresh and cold air in winters, they also make way for unwanted guests such as dust, pollen, and (sometimes) insects.

Dust accumulates quickly on houseplants, as anybody who has been away for a few weeks may already know.

Although it may be a time-consuming and tedious chore, you must eliminate any residue accumulated over time to save your precious plant.

After you’ve spent all that time and work cleaning your plants, get to work on the pots, too.

Start by removing the plant and carefully clean the pot if there is a white film of salt or minerals on the exterior or rim. Disinfect the pot with one part bleach to 10 parts water-diluted bleach solutions.

Before repotting your plant, use a sharp brush to remove any salt residue from the container. You may prevent further dirt on pots by rinsing the soil with water and allowing it to drain thoroughly.

Put Them on Healthy Diet

Since houseplants don’t grow actively throughout the winter months, they do not need fertilizer. Feeding them at this time will only serve to throw off their normal rhythm.

Thus, you should refrain from doing so until the beginning of spring.

You may restart feeding your plants to give them a boost for the growing season when you start to notice hints of new growth or when the leaves on your plants seem to be greening up.

Some tropical plants, mainly vining climbers or trailers, continue to grow rather aggressively during the winter and still need some feeding. However, the quantity required is often much lower.

Read Can You Be Allergic to Houseplants?

Tips to Keep Plants Alive While Heading Out on Vacation

In a study conducted by the team behind the flight-comparison website, more than 4,100 individuals in the United States were asked about their traveling habits.

After further research, it was shown that over one-quarter of habitual vacationing Americans (23%) chose to travel during the winter months.

When asked why this was the case, the top three responses were “there are fewer visitors” (which accounted for 27% of responses), “to get away from cold weather at home,” (which accounted for 22% of responses), and “lower expenses” (18%).

If you’re also planning to leave town this winter to visit family and friends living in other parts of the United States or spend a few days somewhere warm and sunny, we have some suggestions on how you can take care of your houseplants while you’re gone.

The good news about traveling in winters is that indoor plants need the least attention. Your plants should have little trouble getting along just with a few tweaks.

After watering the plants and ensuring they are adequately hydrated, you can either use a plant sitter or relocate your plants further away from their light source.

A short-term reduction in light intensity will result in the plant using less water, which will keep them from drying out entirely, hence, staying alive for an extended period.

America’s Most Popular Houseplants

Indoor PlantBotanical NamePopular States
Aloe Vera  Aloe BarbadensisArizona, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Virginia
Succulents  N/AAlaska, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, California, Florida, Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio,
Snake Plant  Sansevieria TrifasciataWest Virginia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Kansas, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Michigan,
PothosEpipremnum AureumOregon, Columbia, Washington
PhilodendronPhilodendronMontana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska
Peace LilySpathiphyllumAlabama, North Dakota, Nebraska
English IvyHedera HelixRhode Island, Delaware, Indiana
PeperomiaPeperomiaColorado, Connecticut, Maine
CalatheaCalatheaNew Mexico, Pennsylvania, NY
BromeliadBromeliaceaeFlorida, Hawaii, Louisiana
African VioletSaintpauliaNew Hampshire, Montana
Lucky BambooDracaena SanderianaIowa, Tennessee, Wisconsin

The Final Cut

The winter season, when most plants kept outside are dormant, is referred to as “the silent season” in the gardening industry—the same goes for houseplants.

Naturally, the snow and icy winds that blow over the landscape are not anything your houseplants must go through.

Despite this, the growth conditions in your house will shift in several ways as the year progresses into its chillier and darker months.

To keep your houseplants healthy and growing throughout the winter, you will need to adjust to how you care for them in other seasons.

Follow the above advice to guarantee that your leafy buddies will continue to provide your house with the lushness and natural beauty they provide during summers—in winters, too. Happy planting, happy winters!