Winter is here (officially, anyway… it's been cold in Aus for weeks!), and you can bet that if you're feeling the shift in temperature - your plants are too.
Before we get into what needs to be done to get our houseplants through winter and into spring looking better than ever, it's essential to understand what's happening.
To put it simply, many houseplants will enter a state of dormancy due to colder temperatures and less sunlight. Really, they're just like us… when it gets cold, we all move a bit slower. They spend this time "cleaning up their house", where instead of putting energy towards growth, they put it towards protecting their vitals to get them through until springtime.
You'll likely see some leaves drop off during winter! But don't fret; they will come back.
Whilst the following tips will provide you with a general rule of thumb for caring for your plants, it's essential to know that different plant specifies can respond differently to the conditions of your local winter. In general, you should look to mimic the conditions found wherever your plant originates, as plants originating from the tropics will respond differently to those from more mild conditions.
Tip 1: Tone Down the Watering
During the winter, plants are slowing close and "closing shop" until the temperatures rise again and the sun comes back out. As they're no longer looking to grow and expand, they require less water. Think of your watering cycles like this; instead of watering for growth we're watering for maintenance.
Watering requirements will vary from plant to plant, though a general rule is to water twice a month or even less. Some plants such as Cacti and succulents may go the whole of winter without any added water. Overwatering during these winter periods can lead to many problems, including root rot and a rise in plant pests!
A great guideline is to gauge the need for watering on pot weight and soil moisture. Check the first 2.5-5cm of soil with a finger; if it's dry, give your plants some water, whereas if it's moist, wait a few days.
Tip 2: Fertilise Your Plants Less
Us plant parents love seeing green leaves and new growth, but as our jungle goes to sleep, their demand for fresh food (fertiliser) isn't really there. They have less need for nutrients while resting and not growing all that much. If you do continue to fertilise at the same frequency during the depths of winter, nutrient levels may become too high in the soil, and you could damage your plants roots.
PRO TIP: If you simply can't resist giving your plants a bit of extra juice, we recommend at the least to halve their dose.
Tip 3: Leave Your Plants in their Pots.
We know how hard it is to leave your plants alone, especially when you find a cute new pot that they'd look great in. But save the repotting for when the plants are actively growing (primarily summer and spring). Houseplants go dormant in winter, conserving their energy for spring and can be shocked when they suddenly get moved into a new pot. Of course, to help with the urge to get your hands dirty, you can always try starting some seeds instead!
Tip 4: Watch out for a Rise in Plant-Pests
You'll likely see a rise in houseplants pests as the temperatures outside drop. Aphids and scale are likely to pop up, even spider mites, who prefer the warmer & dry conditions we create when we blast the heater, may appear. It's also very common to see a rise in fungus gnats - especially if you skipped step 1!
Check plant leaves and stems each time you water, and be sure to keep your uBloomd Green Gnat Traps fresh to catch any pests that may sneak in!
Tip 5: Move Plants Towards a Source of Light
The light coming into your house can change as winter approaches. So whilst plants may have been positioned correctly for summer or autumn, it's good practice to observe the light and move your plants towards a place where they can receive more sunlight. This can be tricky, though, as houseplants have different sensitivity to light, so be sure to research the requirements for your plants!
As you'll read in the next step, plants prefer constant temperatures - so be sure not to move your plants closer to cold wind drafts just for more sunshine!
Tip 6: Keep Temperatures Consistent
Houseplants thrive in consistent temperatures. If you're comfortable, then your plants likely are, too; it's sudden changes in temperature where problems generally occur. So to keep your plants at their happiest, aim to keep temperatures as constant as possible.
Open windows, air vents and closeness to doors can create extreme drops in temperature disturbing your plants. Whereas heaters or fireplaces could see a sudden rise can also cause a bother.
Tip 7: Raise the Humidity
As the temperature gets cooler… what do we do? Generally, grab a big blanket and turn the heater on, right? Whilst this may make us warm, heating our homes in the winter makes the air even dryer. Even during the warmer months, our homes are often too dry for their needs. Many houseplants like more humid conditions, so this is the perfect time to get out your humidifier and add some moisture to the air.
Even if you don't have a humidifier, you can place a tray of water near your plants or spray them regularly with a mister and place them in a tray packed with small rocks. A good idea is to also group plants together; as they transpire, they release water vapour, and can create a humid microclimate together.
And there you have it! Seven simple steps to follow to get your houseplants through winter and ready for spring, where they can flourish once again.
We'd love to hear any tips you may have for getting your houseplants through winter! If you have any other questions, be sure to send us an email.