In the winter we tend to focus our “gardening” attention on our house plants. Below I’ve listed appropriate house plant care during the winter months.
During the winter months the surface of your house plants will dry quickly. But that’s not necessarily a sign that the plant needs water.
To check, stick your finger into the soil and see if it is dry an inch or so below the surface. If it’s dry to that depth, that’s when you water.
Obviously some plants prefer being moist. If you aren’t sure if your plant likes more even moisture, Google the name of the plant to find out.
Water thoroughly and allow the water to drain completely. If the plant has a saucer, dump any excess water after an hour or so.
Another watering method for plants growing in pots that have drainage holes is to water from the bottom. All you need to do is fill the plant tray with water, and allow the plant to soak up water from the bottom.
Some plants (like African violets) prefer this method of watering because their leaves and stems are sensitive to getting wet.
Also, when watering, try to use water that is room temperature so that you don’t shock the plant’s roots.
I don’t like to use water straight from the sink to water. I like to store water in old milk jugs to allow the chlorine to dissipate. I like to let the water sit at least 24 hours.
Humidity levels drop in heated homes during the winter. It can drop to 10-20%, and plants prefer a level closer to 50%.
If you have a humidifier, move the plants closer to it so they can enjoy the moisture. If you don’t have a humidifier, you are probably going to need to raise the humidity level in other ways.
Gathering your plants in a cluster helps because plants naturally release water through their leaves. Therefore grouping them together will put their natural moisture to good use.
If there’s room in the bathroom or kitchen, you could place your plants in these rooms to benefit from the added moisture level.
Another option is to place your plants on or near a tray of water. Raise the bottom of the pots above the water level by placing stones in the water (higher than the water level).
And then set your plants on the stones. Don’t let the plants sit in the water!
Plants, like people, are most comfortable in daytime temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees F. and nighttime temps above 50 degrees F.
Keep your plants away from cold drafts and sources of heat. Fluctuations in temperature can be just as damaging as prolonged heat or cold.
Keeping House Plants Clean
Winter is a good time to do some house cleaning on your plants. Removing dust and debris will keep your plants healthy and looking good. It will also wash away unwanted pests.
You could give your plant a bubble bath. Be sure the water is tepid and use a very diluted solution of liquid dish washing liquid and water.
Place the plant in a sink and sponge off the leaves with warm soapy water. Finish by wiping the leaves once more with clean water.
You can place larger plants in the shower to sponge off the leaves. Then use the shower head to rinse them.
Allow the plant to drain thoroughly before putting the plant back in its original location.
As there is less sunlight during winter, you might need to move your house plants to a brighter area or even add supplemental light.
A good spot to put your plants would be a south or west facing window that remains sunny all day. Just don’t move them too close to a frosty window where there’s a cold draft.
Also, make it a habit to rotate your pots when you water them so that all sides get some sun and to keep the plants growing evenly.
If you take good care of your house plants, you should have years of enjoyment from them.