Houseplant Winter Survival Guide

It’s grey and rainy. Winter has arrived. The climate has changed from the hot summer to the cold winter. Our houseplants are doing the best to adapt to this change. Now is the time we will see our houseplants struggle in our spaces. It’s time for some tips to help your houseplants survive the winter.

 

Surroundings

 

It’s all about the surroundings. Take a moment to check the surroundings in your home. Is there enough light? Are there drafts? Is there a radiator nearby? Our houseplants are unique. They will all react differently to the winter months. Some houseplants continue to push out new growth while others will drop leaves. At the same time, others are perfectly happy in lower light conditions and will continue as normal.
 

It’s important to treat each plant individually and work out the best care specifically for that plant. I’m definitely guitly of grouping my Pothos and Prayer Plants together giving them the same care and calling it a day. This might work for plants that are typically low maintenance, but failure to tailor specific care to high maintenance plants will result in some problems.

 

Lukewarm Water

Most houseplants will prefer lukewarm or room temperature water. Try to avoid giving your plants cold tap water. Doing so may shock their root system. Some houseplants can be fussy when it comes to tap water. Filtered water is recommended for most indoor houseplants. You may notice browning edges or brown tips which could be a sign that your houseplants are reacting badly to the chemicals found in tap water.

 

 

Over the summer, we will get our house plants on a watering schedule that suits them. For most indoor plants, a weekly water is sufficient. Now that we're in Winter, our schedules must change. Overwatering could lead to root rot, yellowing or black leaves and leaf loss. Once root rot has occurred, it is difficult to bring the plant back to life. If you are unsure when to water, you can wait until the foliage starts to droop a little. This is your houseplants way of telling you that it is ready for water.

 

Lack of Light

 

No houseplant can survive without light. In the winter, your sun-loving plants like the Alocasia and Aloe vera will suffer the most. You may notice yellowing leaves or leaf drop when your plant does not get enough light. If possible, move these plants to the sunnier parts of your home. If you put it close to a window, make sure there are no drafts.
 
Did you know a really good way to help your houseplants get more light is to buy a growth light? Growth lights can really help your plants get the extra light they need. Some houseplants need up to 14 hours of daylight every day. In the winter, daylight is significantly reduced. Using a growth light for a couple of hours in the evening can make up the extra hours that your houseplants need.
 

Raising the humidity

 

We want to replicate our plant’s natural habitat. This can be tricky in the winter months, but it is extremely important for the health of our plants to give them an environment that is familiar to them. Brown edges will usually start to form when houseplants suffer from humidity stress. Plants that really love humidity like the Dumb Cane, Ficus, Ferns and Prayer Plants will be affected the most. If you start to notice these signs, you should think about raising the humidity in your home. You can buy an indoor thermometer to keep track of the humidity and temperatures in your space.
 
 
Normal houses have a humidity level between 30-50%. Humidity-loving plants prefer levels of 60% or more. The best way to do this is to use a humidifier. They come in all shapes and sizes and a humidifier can raise room humidity by 10% in just 15 minutes. You can also move your humidity-loving plants to the bathroom for the winter. Humidity in your bathroom can reach 100% which your plant will absolutely love. Misting and grouping your plants together may help, but will not be enough to please higher maintenance plants.
 
It’s worth mentioning that you can have too much humidity in your home. You probably want to aim for between 60-70%. Any higher than this could cause mould in your home and fungus on your houseplants.
 

Aeration in the room

 

Most of the time we keep the windows and doors closed in the winter. It’s very understandable - we want to keep the heat in. Our houseplants want fresh aerated air. If you are able to crack open a window for 10 minutes in the morning, an open window will help get some circulation in the room. Air circulation will also help our breathing by diluting the polluted air in our homes from hair sprays, dust and air fresheners.
 

Think about heat

Most of our houseplants come from tropical climates.They come from jungles and forests in places like South America, The Caribbean and Polynesia which is one of the reasons why they make our homes feel vibrant and beautiful. It’s very important that the temperature in your home is consistent to avoid shocking your plants. Remember they have just been enjoying a hot summer. If possible, keep home temperatures between 16-23 degrees.
 
 

Yellow leaves

 

Yellow leaves are very normal for this time of year. One of the most common reasons is overwatering. It's winter now and your plants may only need watering once or twice a month.

 

It is very common for houseplants in the winter to drop some of their leaves so they have less foliage to maintain. Don’t give up on your plant if you see yellowing leaves or leaf loss. It might bounce back and push out new growth in the spring.

By the way, yellow leaves are very common in the growth season especially in the lower parts of the plant. As the plant gets bigger, the lower leaves will turn yellow and die. This is perfectly normal.
 

Low light and Winter plants

 

Don’t let the winter stop you from getting more plants.
 
If you are anything like me, you must be always on the lookout for your next houseplant. Luckily, there are many options for you. The Pothos and Philodendron families are great winter plants. They can survive in low humidity conditions and will continue to push out new growth.
 
The Cast Iron and ZZ plants are the most invincible plants available. They have both earned reputations for being indestructible. Even if there is less light in the winter, these plants will remain happy. You will only need water them once a month.
 

 

Another popular winter plant is the Parlour Palm. This plant became extremely popular in the 1800s because it thrived in low lighting. Back then, pollution blocked out the sun and Victorian homes had small windows. It also helped to purify the air, but I’m not sure the Vicotrians knew this at the time.

 

The snake plant is also a very resilient, low-maintenance plant. Snake plants will be happy in low-light conditions and withstand low humidity levels. It only needs watering every 4-6 week - perfect for the forgetful waterer.
 

It’s not all doom and gloom

Some of our plants may have gone into dormancy for the time being, but they will be back in March sprouting out new growth. Don’t forget that these plants are still alive during the winter. Be sure to check on them from time to time. If you’d like more tips on this subject, check out our “​8 Ways to prepare your houseplants for autumn​” post for more helpful tips and tricks.


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