The seasons are changing, the days are getting shorter, colder, and we are all adapting
to these new but familiar conditions. Even subtle changes to our daily rituals, like eating habits
or skin care routines, can increase our sense of wellness and generally make us feel prepared
for the winter ahead. Our house plants are no different.
For the last five years I have lived with many, many plants - too many to count - and I’ve
been through the heartache of losing plants that I love. Throughout my experience I’ve learned
that plant-care routines change with the seasons, and we must give our plants a chance to
revive themselves, especially in the winter.
There are four basic winter plant care principles to follow:
● More light
● Less water
● Create heat & humidity
● Less fertilizing
Before we get into the details of each, my general advice is to be patient! Your plants are
adjusting to different conditions. Personally, I suffer from depression and seasonal depression
hits me very hard. I change as a person and I’m not my usual self, so I can empathize with my
plants. They may lose some of their vibrancy, but they will come back new in the spring,
completely refreshed and eager to grow.
Let’s start with sunlight, or lack of it. The sun is your plant’s feeding line. It’s turned into
energy (photosynthesis) and used to convert water, carbon dioxide and minerals into oxygen
and energy-rich organic compounds. Just like how our skin absorbs that delicious vitamin D on
a hot, sunny day. To get as much sun as possible, move your plants closer to a natural light
source. West or south facing windows are always a good location. If your home doesn’t get a lot
of natural light, use indoor grow lights! You don’t need to turn your space into a hydroponic
greenhouse. Just switch your regular lamp bulbs to LED bulbs and shine that light towards your
Now let’s get into watering. Plants in the winter aren’t actively growing, or growing very
little with less sunlight. And less sunlight means more time between waterings. Most plants will
be just fine being watered every 7-10 days, just make sure you let the soil dry out considerably.
The easiest way to monitor is by sticking your fingers 2-3” into the soil. If it’s dry all the way, it’s
time for a drink!
However, there are exceptions to this rule - most cacti and succulents can go the entire
winter season without watering. I have definitely made the mistake of watering my cacti regularly
during the winter and have had to toss them in the spring due to root rot. On the other side of
the water spectrum, ferns can get regular waterings year-round. They love an evenly moist soil
(and high humidity) which makes them perfect for sunny bathrooms!
Heat + Humidity
Onto heat and humidity. In general, humidity is the key ingredient for your houseplants
well-being. Most indoor plants are tropical and native to hot and humid climates, so we want to
recreate this atmosphere as best as possible. Consider moving plants away from drafty window
sills (cold) or radiators (dry) and avoid drastic changes in temperature which can cause serious
There are a few, easy changes you can make to add more moisture in the air around your
- Use a humidifier, not only for yourself but for your plants! Turn it on during the day for
them and night for yourself. Trust me, your plants and skin will appreciate that added
- Group your plants together. This is a simple way to create more moisture!
- Use a misting bottle. This one is time consuming if you have a lot of plants. I personally
find it relaxing but it is also a great way to check in on your plants to see if everything is
If you notice that leaves are developing brown edges, plants are wilting, turning yellow or
the foliage looks crispy, you may not be providing enough humidity. These signs may also
signify lack of water, so always check the soil before you make any judgement calls.
And last but not least is fertilization. If you don’t fertilize I highly recommend getting into
it! I comment a lot about this on my Instagram page. If I could get into it without writing another 4
pages I would but to keep it short - fertilizing adds nutrients to the soil that the plant requires to
grow. If you do fertilize, cut back to every 6-8 weeks. If you want your plants to look their very
best then get to fertilizing! Plus there's tons of organic, natural, easily available brands out there.
Or you can also make your own using vinegar, egg shells (cleaned and dried), coffee
grounds and other compostables.
Every plant and every home is different. But these basic principles for winter plant care
should steer you in the right direction. There will always be exceptions, and you may encounter
your own heartaches. All you can do is keep a watchful eye on your plant babies and give them
the same love you deserve to give yourself!
MEET THE CONTRIBUTOR
Delaney aka #PlantLady lives in Toronto, Canada with lots and lots of plants, many of which have lived
with her for years. Delaneys botany interest began five years ago after discovering her knack for plants and plant maintenance. (website coming soon)!
For more tips to keep your house plants thriving
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