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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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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Avoid or Dilute Fertilizer
Similar to water, you don’t want to over-fertilize your house plants in the winter. And if they are healthy, skip fertilizing your house plants 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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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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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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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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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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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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Use a Humidifier
A 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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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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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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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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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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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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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.
Make sure to keep in mind these other ways to winterize your garden.
Originally Published: September 16, 2020