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14 Tips For Bringing Plants Inside and Caring for Them Through Winter

Even indoor plants can sometimes have a tough time surviving the winter. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to help your house plants make it through the winter in the best of health. Here's what to keep in mind.

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dfh1_shutterstock_240381874 house plants green house gardeningimnoom/Shutterstock

Cut Down on Water

Almost all house plants go into hibernation mode over the winter, which means they don’t need as much water. If you keep watering them at summer rates, they could develop rot or diseases. So caring for houseplants in winter starts with watering only lightly. When in doubt, check to see if the soil is moist about an inch below the surface. Exceptions to this are citrus species, which tend to do better with higher moisture soil.

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dfh2_shutterstock_243025486 fertilizing indoor plantsadriaticfoto/Shutterstock

Avoid or Dilute Fertilizer

Similar to water, you don’t want to over-fertilize your house plants in the winter. And if your plants are healthy, skip fertilizing altogether. If you think they need some fertilizer, dilute it by at least 50 percent before applying, preferably in the fall.

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dfh6_shutterstock_270149396 gardening plants flowers terra-cotta pots repottinggorillaimages/Shutterstock

Wash and Trim Plants Before Bringing Them In

It’s common to bring beloved potted plants in for the winter, but they need your attention first. Wash the plants gently and trim them up before bringing them inside.

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dfh3_shutterstock_368187422 repotting house plants green house gardening flowersRobert Przybysz/Shutterstock

Don’t Repot Until Spring, if Possible

Repotting is tough on plants and they need all their strength in the winter. So hold off on repotting plants until spring.

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dfh4_shutterstock_117271666 dust clean house plant leavesOlinchuk/Shutterstock

Remember to Clean the Leaves

In winter, homes tend to be closed up and more dust is often spread through the air. Dusty leaves are bad news, as they encourage disease and prevent house plants from absorbing sunlight. Lightly brush dust off the leaves of your plants every month or so.

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grow tomatoes in a window boxLyashenko Egor/shutterstock

Build an Indoor Window Box for Maximum Sunlight

If you want to create a collection of useful herbs or uplifting flowers for winter, make a window box to display them and give them plenty of light. Choose hardy species. Then you can move the window box outside in the spring!

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dfh7_shutterstock_19074904 open window brick houseScott Latham/Shutterstock

Avoid Drafts and Breezes

Put houseplants near a window to help them get enough light, but be sure to avoid drafts or breezes that may chill them. Don’t crack open windows near plants, and make sure your window insulation is in good repair.

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dfh8_shutterstock_486052576 humidifierYury Stroykin/Shutterstock

Use a Humidifier

humidifier can add additional moisture to dry winter air, and may help keep more delicate plant leaves from browning out. Plus it’s good for your lungs, too!

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dfh9_shutterstock_652064464 plant leaf with bugs pestsyogesh_more/Shutterstock

Watch Out for Pests

Winter pests are problematic for window plants. If they find your plants, they can easily spread throughout the house and do a lot of damage. Keep houseplants clean and watch for pests like mites. If you spot a problem, isolate the plant and treat it immediately.

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dfh10_shutterstock_14995726 watering plantsMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Add Extra Water for Vacations

If you’re going on vacation for two weeks or more, it’s all right to break the low-water rule and give your house plants an extra soaking so they stay healthy.

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dfh11_shutterstock_507528532 space heaterYevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock

Avoid Too Much Heat

While many homeowners worry about plants freezing in winter, not everyone remembers to be careful of the heat. Avoid putting plants by heaters or fireplaces where they may dry out. Use a plant stand instead.

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dfh12_shutterstock_651497608 succulents cactusesYevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock

Move Plants Away From Windows on Freezing Nights

The air near windows can grow perilously cold for plants when the temperature outside drops at night. Move house plants off the windowsill if you think they may freeze. Some people leave the plants in place and cover them with newspaper, but moving them is often easier.

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dfh13_shutterstock_656471947 tropical sun room patioPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

Have a Lot of Plants to Bring Indoors? Build a Sunroom

If you’re proud of all your patio and deck plants and want to bring in as many as possible (especially those with large pots), consider adding a full sunroom or enclosed porch. Then you can guarantee temperature control and ensure the plants get plenty of light.

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dfh14_shutterstock_77258875 indoor plants grow lighnikkytok/Shutterstock

For Short Days, Consider a Grow Light

If the days are particularly short and dark in your area, consider purchasing an LED grow light to provide your house plants with extra energy. And keep in mind the color of the light affects how the plants will grow.