Surviving Winter: 10 Tips for Keeping House Plants Happy

With so many new plant enthusiasts, I wanted to share a few tips to help with what may be your first winter with house plants.  Keeping plants is an investment in time, money, and patience but the benefits are totally worth it.  Follow these winter tips to keep your home cozy and full of life for the months ahead.

TIP #1 Know Your Plants – Identify and research plants in your collection.  Pay close attention to their natural habitat and growth habits.  Mimicking this will help your plants thrive and not just survive.  Please do not rely on plant identification and care tags as they are often inaccurate or just a general guide. Plants are not one-size-fits-all and a few minutes of research could make all the difference.

TIP #2 Perform Pre-Winter Prep – Bring house plants indoors before temperatures dip below 51 degrees (you may be able to cover plants for temporary dips).  Treat your plants with a natural pest treatment, being sure to carefully inspect the entire plant and the soil before bringing inside.

TIP #3 Consider Plant Placement – Did you know that certain plants prefer certain windows?  Researching which plants do best based off the direction the window is facing will help you make the best placement decisions for your plants.  Also, consider grouping plants in the same family together.  This especially applies to high-humidity plants, which maintain higher humidity levels when grouped together.

TIP #4 Adjust Lighting Situation – In winter, we have a bit more flexibility with plant placement but should always give our full-sun plants the best light.  Sometimes, we have more plants than our windows can support or plants with sensitive lighting needs.  In these situations, consider investing in alternative plant lighting options.

TIP #5 Cut Back Watering, Increase Humidity – This is the time of year to cut back on watering.  With plant growth slowing down, there is less of a demand for water.  Though watch for plants by heating vents.  For high-humidity plants, consider placing on a humidity tray or investing in a humidifier. 

TIP #6 Control Air Flow and Temperature – Keep plants away from drafts, vents, cold windowsills, especially cold-sensitive varieties.  Hardier plants can live below a vent but watch for faster drying-out of the soil.  Turn on a fan to create air flow.  Moving air helps decrease chances of damp, dank soil and fungal growth. This also helps strengthen plant stems.

TIP #7 Reduce or Take a Break from Fertilizer Use – It is often recommended not to fertilize in fall/winter (dormant months) BUT not all plants go dormant in indoor conditions.  If your plant is shooting out new leaves or continues to grow, consider fertilizing at half-strength.  Follow the plants lead and give it a bit of support by giving it nutrients to continue its growth.

TIP #8 Prevent and Control Pests and Disease – There are few things worse than a pest outbreak in a home full of plants.  The best disease and pest prevention is … keeping your plants, happy and healthy.  Plants that are not cared for well are more susceptible to infestations and a slow death.  It is also important to inspect plants on a regular basis.  You can easily do a quick inspection when watering and perform more intense inspections when you clean your plant leaves.  Yes, clean the leaves!  If you find a pest or disease, isolate the plant and treat immediately.

TIP #9 Take in the Joy of Plant Propagation – Plants do continue to grow in winter so take this opportunity to appreciate the process.  Our indoor conditions are warm enough to allow slow winter growth. Seize this opportunity to nurture baby plants.  Not only is this fascinating but it also allows your plant to acclimate to your home conditions and you truly get to know what makes your plant happy.

TIP #10 Exercise Self-Control – Limit your plants.  Too many plants?  Consider a purge of plants that no longer bring you joy or that are not happy in your home.  Try to resist the urge to order plants in winter unless you order plants that are not too cold sensitive from a reputable seller.  Instead, consider supporting a favorite artist by purchasing plant art or pottery.

Still need winter survival support for your house plant journey? Register for my in-depth 6-week Surviving Winter Series. My weekly videos are live and cover everything from making and applying organic pest repellent to selecting supplemental lighting. Participants also receive a winter survival kit with a highly-sought Raven Zz plant.

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