Many avid gardeners turn to indoor gardening during the winter when they can’t work outside. Indoor gardening during winter gives us the satisfaction of nurturing plants, being surrounded by greenery, and getting our hands dirty. But in the dead of winter when the days are short and the house is dry, indoor gardening can quickly turn into a huge chore. Most houses are too dry and don’t get enough sunlight during the winter for many plants to thrive.
Some plants adapt to this harsh indoor environment better than others. The reason you see the same types of common houseplants for sale in garden centers this time of year is because they can adapt the best. Generally speaking, most houseplants go dormant during the winter. Which is lucky for us; it gives us half a chance to keep them alive until spring. In my experience, the biggest challenges indoor gardeners face during the winter are water, light and pest management.
Winter Houseplant Watering Tips
Heating a house sucks the humidity right out of the air, which is not good for houseplants. Low humidity causes the soil to dry out much faster. The good news is that houseplants require less water during the winter. The bad news is that because of this, people tend to want to water their plants more often. Consequently, houseplants are in greater danger of being over watered during the winter.
- Stick your finger down one inch into the houseplant soil. If the soil feels moist, don’t water it. You could also buy one of these soil moisture gauges.
- Run a humidifier, or put your houseplants in the kitchen or a bathroom if there’s a window nearby. The plants will love the extra humidity. I also bought one of these indoor humidity monitors, which is great for checking the humidity levels.
- Put a pebble tray filled with water under the pot. But do not allow the houseplant to sit in the water, and be sure to change it regularly. Soil gnats love stagnant water.
- Grouping plants together will raise the humidity level around indoor plants. It also makes maintenance easier.
- While it’s best to repot houseplants in the spring, sometimes a houseplant will dry out almost as soon as you water it. If this is the case, repotting a houseplant into a larger pot will ease maintenance.
Indoor Gardening Light Tips
Adequate light is also a tough thing to provide houseplants during the winter. Most houseplants grow slower in the winter, which is good since many will tolerate lower light levels. Unfortunately, some houseplants will grow leggy if not given enough light.
It’s best to know the light requirements of your plants so you can provide the correct amount. Don’t assume that every houseplant needs to be in a south facing window, or that they’ll all be fine stuck in corner. If a houseplant has started to develop weak and leggy growth, that means it’s not getting enough light. Move it closer to a sunny window or add a grow light.
Pay attention to where you put it though, houseplants don’t like drafts; so keep them away from doors, drafty windows and heat sources.
Control Houseplant Pests
Our houseplants may go dormant during the winter, but this is prime breeding time for houseplant pests. Some types of houseplant bugs (ehem, like soil gnats) are almost impossible to eliminate completely. Since houseplant pests can come from anywhere, keep your eyes peeled.
The best way to control houseplant pests is to regularly inspect your houseplants for signs of bugs. The earlier you find those nasty pests, the easier they are to control. A good habit to get into is inspecting your plants every time you water. If you find any pests, start treating the plant immediately. I recommend investing in some organic neem oil.
Other Winter Houseplant Care Tips
- If you’re just starting out with houseplants, or you hate the upkeep, buy low maintenance houseplants. This will take the frustration out of indoor gardening during the winter.
- Do not fertilize houseplants during the winter (remember, they are asleep). Stop fertilizing your houseplants early in the fall, and then start again in early spring.
- Don’t repot plants during the winter unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Indoor gardening takes some practice and work to be successful. Knowledge is key. The more you know about the requirements of your houseplants, the happier you both will be.
Need more? Keep your houseplants thriving through the winter with this winter survival guide for your houseplants. If you love indoor gardening, this book is perfect for you…
Click here to read more about the basics of how to care for a houseplant… Houseplant Care
How do you keep your houseplant happy during the winter? Leave a comment below and share your stories.