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Adjust Your Houseplant Care During Winter

Posted on January 7, 2021

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to adjust your plant care routine. During winter, houseplants are exposed to lower humidity and warmer daytime and cooler nighttime temperatures. Winter is also when most houseplants are in their yearly resting or dormant period

Temperature - Nearly all-indoorplants willdo just fine in rooms where daytime temperatures are as high as 75 degrees F and evening temperatures are cool. There can be a problem though, when there is a sudden drop in temperature. This change may be fatal to houseplants. To avoid this problem, be sure to seal window cracks (to avoid drafts) and move plants off windowsills during sub-zero weather. Placing plants near a heating vent or heater may also harm a plant.

Watering - Watering your houseplants two to three times a month is usually sufficient during winter since growth slows down and may even stop. Use room-temperature water and do not use water that has been softened with salt. Be sure to water thoroughly so all the soil is wet. During winter, cacti and succulents go into semi-dormancy so water only to prevent the plants from shriveling up.

Fertilization and Repotting - Fertilizing in winter is generally not recommended for most houseplants. Plants should be fertilized when they are actively growing which is during late spring, summer and early fall. Repotting is also not recommended in winter. The best time to repot a houseplant is when the growth season is commencing – usually early spring. Never repot unless you have to during a plant’s resting or dormant period.

Humidity - Home heating systems can produce very dry air during the cold winter months. They take moisture out of the air making the humidity level often lower than twenty percent. This dry air not only makes us feel uncomfortable, but also is not good for most houseplants. Very few plants like such dry conditions, but cacti and succulents, which are native to deserts, can tolerate these low humidity levels. Most houseplants grow best at forty to sixty percent humidity but can tolerate levels as low as twenty percent.

You may want to consider increasing the humidity around your plants. The easiest way is with a cool-vapor humidifier that can increase humidity levels by twenty-five to thirty percent. Another option is to grow plants in a waterproof tray with an inch of pebbles, crushed rock, or sand. Add water up to but not above the level of stony material. Make sure the pots do not sit in water or the plants risk getting root rot. Misting to increase humidity is not recommended since it provides only a temporary benefit. It may also create water stains and cause nearby floors, furniture, or walls to rot.

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