- Getting your houseplants ready for the winter months
Getting your houseplants ready for the winter months
31st October 2023
We commonly hear that phrase “water less in winter” but I think it’s important to break that down and consider why our plant care habits change at this time of year. I’ve put together some tips to help you keep your plants happy during the cooler and darker months.
Light is the first thing to consider; the sun is setting earlier at this time of year which reduces the amount of adequate light our plants are receiving. Some of your plants will be just fine in their usual positions while others may need to be brought closer to the window during winter. Another way to keep your plants happy is to supplement natural light with a grow light. I use Pianta Bulbs at the shop and at home. Full spectrum grow lights mimic the light output of the sun (as best they can) by using wavelengths that are similar. Ideally you need your grow lights on for 12 hours per day.
Keep it warm
A concern during winter is the drop in temperature, if fluctuations are extreme then you’re more likely to experience leaf loss and cold spots on your leaves. If they're exposed to cold temperatures for an extended time, they will die. Conservatories might be ideal for your plants in the summer months but temperatures can drop below zero in winter. Also, any plants that are drafty window sills should be brought further into the room on particularly cold nights and then popped back to their window spots in the morning to avoid cold damage. Keeping the room between 18 and 23˚C is ideal.
Keeping our homes warm at this time of year can sometimes lead to drier air; group plants together to increase humidity if this is the case. I think it’s useful to have a Thermo-Hygrometer to keep an eye on temperature and ambient humidity, just position it amongst your plant gang. Be careful not to place your plants too close to direct heat sources, as this will cause leaf damage.
Plants typically enter a stage of dormancy or semi-dormancy during the darker months and since plants metabolise water based on how much adequate light they are receiving, watering frequency is reduced. If you are using grow lights, your plants will continue to grow so your watering schedule might not be impacted as much.
To fertilise or not to fertilise?
I am an advocate for feeding when I observe active growth; I have some plants under grow lights at home so they continue to grow all year round and therefore I replenish their nutrients by fertlising. Other plants around the home completely slow down so I withhold fertiliser during the winter for those ones. We use Liquid Gold Leaf plant food at home and in all our commerical installations.
One of my favourite Plant People, Darryl Cheng often talks about how every leaf has a lifespan, and that we should say “Thanks for your contribution to photosynthesis" as a way of acknowledging that loss is part of the natural aging process of the plant. It’s especially common for plants to lose older leaves during this season, this is due to the lack of light and potentially cooler temperatures, think of it as an adjustment to the season change. Leaves will naturally fall off or you can get into the habit of removing dead leaves yourself using snips.
If the air is dry and you want to increase the humidity for your plants, consider grouping your plants together and sitting them on watered pebble trays.