During the winter (or for most people year-round) keeping house plants alive can be a challenge. As plant mania takes over our Instagram feeds and our indoor plant collections expand, knowing simple plant care can keep your plants comfortable and thriving. To give your plant babies a fighting chance, here are a few tricks for keeping your house plants alive this winter.
First, let’s talk about humidity.
As seasons change so do our plant’s needs, and being able to adapt with your houseplants is vital for their survival (and our sanity). Low humidity is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome in the winter. Plants will communicate to you how they feel. Check out the leaves, are the tips brown and dry? Are they curled or dropping? Those are some symptoms that your plant is not receiving enough humidity.
Ideal humidity levels for plants are 50% or more. Several varieties of plants require much higher. If you have no clue what your levels are within your home and are interested, buy a hydrometer. This is the one I used from Amazon.
To help your plants from drying out here’s how you can increase humidity and keep your house plants alive.
Uh what? In other words, group your plants together. Their leaves transpire which releases moisture in the air benefiting surrounding plants. TIP: Keep plants with similar humidity needs near each other. For example don’t group cacti that like dry conditions with tropical plants like a Boston fern, which loves a humid environment.
Small diffusers work if you only have a few plants but a bigger humidifier can reach larger areas for longer. Both warm and cool mist humidifiers work; I have had great results keeping my houseplants alive with a warm mist humidifier. TIP: Bacteria build up in these so be sure to clean regularly.
This is an easy one. Just place your pot on top of small pebbles within a saucer, dish, tray, whatever you have laying around and add water. This creates humidity for plants individually, and is another good method if you only have a few plants. TIP: Be sure the pot is not directly sitting in the water; you don’t want to accidently water your plant.
Since the heat is blazing in most people’s houses in the winter, be cautious where your plants are sitting. Avoid fireplaces, or by vents or even drafting areas like around highly trafficked doors. Smaller enclosed spaces naturally are more humid. TIP: If lighting is right, bathrooms and kitchens can provide excellent conditions for some plants.
Plants that manage without extra moisture include most desert dwellers, like cacti, which prefer dry air. Other low humidity lovers include succulents and snakes plants.
Most tropical plants like ferns, peace lilies, fiddle leaf figs, philodendrons, orchids and many palms prefer higher humidity.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
The number one killer in houseplants is overwatering, and when plants go dormant their water requirements change. Do your research on the individual plant and learn what type of care and water intake your plant needs this is essential for keeping houseplants alive.
If you are a plant serial killer, I would hold off on repotting during the winter if possible. This is a tough one, especially with all the gorgeous planters everywhere you go. Most plants active growing season is the spring and summer, so repotting when your plant is more awake will get you the best results and keep your plants from stressing out.
KEEP HEATING LOW:
More sunlight, less heat. It’s more environmental and saves on your bill. If the room is comfortable for you, it mostly likely is not for your plants. Lowering the temperature in your home will keep humidity much higher, plus you can bundle up in cozy sweaters.
Rule of thumb (a green one preferably)
The key to keeping your houseplants alive over winter depends on what type of plants you have and the growing environment you provide them. Educate yourself! I’ve learned so much just by asking questions. Talk to your local plant shop owners, buy books, and listen to podcasts. But know your sources. Currently I’m digging “Bloom and Grow Radio” Podcast by Maria Failla; I’ve learned so much from her interviews with experts in the plant community. Great information!
This book is another great resource. It has been a great reference for keeping my houseplants alive and flourishing all year round.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment; killing your houseplants is learning. As bad as it may hurt, it’s okay. All the plant professionals have done it and still do it. I have killed so many plants in my lifetime, and with each one I’ve learned something valuable for the next go round.