Caring for indoor plants in winter is much harder than it is during the summer. The lack of sunlight, dry air, and cooler temperatures make it much harder to grow healthy indoor plants. I don’t want you to struggle anymore! So in this post I’ll give you tons of tips for how to keep houseplants alive in winter, without all the fuss.
Many avid gardeners turn to indoor gardening during the winter when they can’t work outside. Growing plants indoors in 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, caring for houseplants can quickly turn into a huge chore. Most homes are too cool and dry, and don’t get enough sunlight during the winter for indoor plants to thrive.
Caring For Houseplants In Winter
Some types of houseplants adapt to the harsh winter indoor environment better than others. The reason you see the same common indoor plants for sale at garden centers during the fall and winter is because they can adapt the best.
However, many houseplants will suffer and may even die if they’re not given the proper care during the long winter months. In my experience, the biggest challenges indoor gardeners face through the winter are watering, humidity, light, temperature, and dealing with houseplant pests.
But once you know how to take care of indoor plants in winter, it will become much easier to keep them healthy all year long. So below I will break it down, and give you tons of tips for taking care of houseplants in winter.
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide…
- Watering Houseplants In The Winter
- Light For Indoor Plants
- Keeping Indoor Plants Warm
- Fertilizing Indoor Plants During Winter
- Repotting Houseplants In The Winter
- Controlling Houseplant Pests Through The Winter
- Winter Plant Care FAQs
- Where To Buy Houseplants In The Winter
Watering Houseplants In Winter
Heating a house sucks the humidity right out of the air, which is usually not very good for plants. Most common houseplants are tropical plants that like high humidity, and they can suffer if the air is too dry. Low humidity can also cause their soil to dry out much faster.
The good news is that most houseplants require less water during the winter than they do in summer. The bad news is that most people don’t know that they need to slow down on watering plants in winter time. Consequently, indoor plants are in greater danger of being killed by overwatering during the winter.
Follow these general winter houseplant watering tips to keep them happy, and avoid overwatering any of your babies…
- Know when to water – Before watering indoor plants in winter, stick your finger one inch into the soil. If the soil feels moist, don’t water it. I recommend getting one of these inexpensive soil moisture gauges to help you figure out how often to water indoor plants.
- Increase the moisture in the air – 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, and you won’t have to worry so much about overwatering them. I bought one of these indoor humidity monitors, which is great for checking to be sure the air around my houseplants isn’t getting to dry.
- Group plants together – Grouping plants together will raise the humidity level around them, keeping all of them much happier. You can simply move the pots closer together, of you could take it one step further and put similar plants into the same pot. Grouping them together also makes houseplant maintenance easier.
- Add a pebble tray – Putting a pebble tray filled with water under the pot will give the plants extra humidity too. But be careful to never allow a houseplant to sit in the water. And be sure to change it regularly so the water doesn’t become stagnant.
- Use a mini indoor greenhouse – I like to group my fussiest plants together and grow them in my mini indoor greenhouse through the winter. That way I can be sure the air isn’t too dry for them, and I can also easily hang houseplant grow lights in there to give them the extra light they need.
Related Post: How To Melt Snow For Watering Houseplants
Light For Indoor Plants In Winter
Adequate lighting is also a tough thing to provide houseplants during the winter. Most popular houseplants grow slower in the winter, which is good since many will tolerate lower light levels. Unfortunately, some houseplants will grow leggy if they don’t get 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 dark 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 for plants in winter.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on indoor plant lights, there are lots of inexpensive options these days. I like to use this single grow light for small plants.
You can also make your own grow lights for houseplants using an inexpensive fluorescent shop light fixture and plant grow light bulbs. I run my lights using an outlet timer to give my plants the perfect amount of light all winter long.
If there’s not enough sunlight in your home, and you don’t want to invest in indoor houseplant lights, then check out my list of 20 low light indoor plants that are easy to grow.
Keeping Indoor Plants Warm In Winter
Like I mentioned above, most indoor plants are from tropical regions of the world, and they can’t stand the cold. The ideal temperature for growing houseplants indoors is 60-75F. The best way to keep indoor plants warm during the winter is to put them in a warm room, rather than one that gets cold.
Another way to keep indoor plants warm in winter is to add a space heater to the room. Just be sure to place the heater several feet away from your plants to prevent damage.
Also, houseplants don’t like drafts of any kind, especially very cold or hot. So keep them away from doors, drafty windows, and heat sources like a fireplace, heat vent or space heater at all times.
Fertilizing Indoor Plants During Winter
Since most houseplants go dormant during the winter, they don’t need to be fed. So, as a general rule, don’t fertilize houseplants during the winter. It’s best to stop fertilizing them early in the fall, and then start feeding them again with a weak dose of liquid indoor plant fertilizer in early spring.
Repotting Houseplants In Winter
Don’t repot indoor plants during the winter unless it’s absolutely necessary. Transplanting houseplants in winter can trigger new growth, and winter growth is usually weak and leggy. Repotting plants puts a lot of stress on them too, which could cause them to suffer through the winter.
However, if a houseplants soil dries out almost as soon as you water it, or the plant is suffering because it is pot-bound, then you can repot it during the winter. Learn more about when and how to repot your houseplants here.
Controlling Houseplant Pests Through The Winter
Our houseplants may go dormant during the winter, but it’s prime breeding time for houseplant pests. Some types of indoor plant bugs (ehem, like fungus gnats) are extremely difficult to eliminate completely. Since houseplant pests can come from anywhere, keep your eyes peeled.
The best way to control indoor plant pests is to regularly inspect your plants for signs of bugs. The earlier you find those nasty pests, the easier they are to control. A good habit to get into is to check your plants every time you water. If you find any bugs, start treating the plant immediately.
An organic insecticidal soap is the best for washing plant leaves and killing bugs (I make my own using 1 tsp of mild liquid soap to 1 liter of water). I also recommend investing in some organic neem oil, which works to not only kill plant bugs, but helps to keep them from coming back too. Learn how to get rid of houseplant pests here.
Winter Plant Care FAQs
In this section, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about how to care for indoor plants in winter. If you don’t find the answer to your question either in the text above or in these FAQs, then please ask it in the comments section below and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.
Do houseplants go dormant in winter?
Generally speaking, most popular indoor plants go dormant during the winter. Which is lucky for us; it gives us half a chance to keep them alive until spring. However, there are several kinds of houseplants that go dormant during the summer instead.
Should indoor plants be fertilized in the winter?
As a general rule, you don’t need to worry about fertilizing houseplants in winter. See the section titled “Fertilizing Indoor Plants During Winter” above for more details.
Do you water plants in winter?
Yes. But most indoor plants need less water during the winter than they do in the summer, so take care not to overwater them. See the section above titled “Watering Houseplants In Winter” for all the details.
Do plants need less water in winter?
Yes. Most common indoor houseplants need less water during the winter than they do in the summer.
How often should I water houseplants in winter?
There is no hard and fast rule for how often to water houseplants in the winter. It depends on the type of plant you have, and also how dry your house is. I would recommend starting by check the soil of the plant weekly until you get the hang of the watering requirements. The soil of succulents, cacti and other plants that don’t require much water can be checked monthly during the winter.
How cold can houseplants tolerate?
It depends on the type of plant you have. Some indoor plant varieties are much hardier than others. It’s best to look up the hardiness of the specific plant you’re growing to get the exact answer for this question.
Can you repot indoor plants in winter?
Yes, but only if it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until spring to repot them. Read the section above titled “Repotting Houseplants In Winter” for more information.
Where To Buy Houseplants In The Winter
If you want to add some new houseplants to your collection, you may be wondering where to buy indoor plants in winter. The best place to get indoor plants is your local garden center. You can usually easily find tons of small and large potted houseplants for sale thorough the fall and winter months.
Just be careful when buying houseplants in winter, and be sure to cover them completely before brining them outside because they can freeze very quickly.
Of course, you can always purchase small houseplants online year round. But it’s best to order indoor plants during the warm months to prevent accidental freezing.
Taking care of indoor plants in winter can be a huge struggle. But now that you’re armed with these tips for how to take care of houseplants in winter, you can easily grow beautiful houseplants all year round.
If you’re tired of your houseplants dying in winter, and you want to learn even more about winter care of houseplants, then you need my Winter Houseplant Care ebook. It will give you everything you need to know about how to keep indoor plants alive during winter, and keep them thriving all year round! It’s the complete guide to winter care of plants! Download your copy today!
More Indoor Plant Care Posts
- Succulent Plant Care Guide: How To Take Care Of Succulent Plants
- Tropical Houseplant Care Guide: How To Grow Tropical Plants Indoors
- 15 Of The Best Flowering Houseplants
- 20 Easy Houseplants That Purify The Air In Your Home
- How To Save A Rotting Cactus Plant
Share your tips for how to grow indoor plants in winter in the comments section below.