Houseplants in Winter
Houseplants are a wonderful way to bring outside gardening indoors. Houseplants give us something to care for during the winter, something to decorate with, something to clean our air with, something to talk about, and even something to talk to. Some houseplants hang, some houseplants bloom, some houseplants are very small, and some houseplants grow taller than our ceilings. Houseplants vary in their care during the winter but remember that just as we slow down when the days shorten, so do our tropical houseplants. In order to keep your houseplants happy and healthy through the fall and winter, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Try to place your plants in their proper light conditions. They naturally go through a short acclamation period as the day length decreases, they may even drop some leaves. Don’t place a plant that needs a high light level into a dark corner and don’t put a plant that doesn’t like a lot of light into a south window: the results may be fatal.
Don’t be afraid to prune your plants. Houseplants such as hibiscus, ivy, philodendron, and bougainvillea, can tolerate quite a haircut to keep them in shape! Pruning also allows your blooming plants to take a short rest after their blooming period last summer.
Water and fertilize your houseplants less during the winter. You may have to readjust your watering schedule two or three times each winter. A plant that needed watering once a week during the summer may only need to be watered once every two weeks during the winter. One of the biggest “killers” of house plants is over-watering: too much TLC. While you should check your plants once a week, they won’t necessarily need to be watered every week. When winter really sets in and you turn your furnace on, the furnace will affect the amount of water your plant requires. Dry, warm air dries plants out quickly. A rule of thumb is to wait until the soil feels dry before you water. Push your finger in the soil about an inch to test for moisture, or use a Moisture Meter to be sure.
Keeping the air humid is a great way to help keep houseplants healthy. Misting your houseplants is helpful, but the effects are often short term. A humidifier is the most beneficial way of increasing the humidity. Another way to increase the humidity for your plants is to group them together, or to place them on trays filled with gravel and water. Do not let the plants sit directly in water all the time.
Fertilize your plants about half as much during the winter as you fertilize them during the spring and summer: Fertilize them once a month instead of every two weeks. Schultz All Purpose Fertilizer is an excellent houseplant fertilizer to use during the winter.
Turn your houseplants every two weeks. Rotate the pot half a turn every two weeks to prevent them from becoming one-sided or leaning toward the light. Ficus trees are notorious for being lush and full on one side and flat and skimpy on the other if they are not rotated once every couple of weeks.
Hopefully, these tips will help your house plants thrive this winter and help to convince you that you too can be a successful indoor gardener.