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Hey plant friends!
I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
The winter can be challenging for indoor tropical houseplants that thrive in hot, humid environments. While our houseplants do not experience the true dormancy of outdoor deciduous plants (plants that drop all their leaves at some point in the year), they can enter a period of slowed growth known as “quiescence.” During this time, they require adjusted care to stay happy and healthy. After keeping houseplants for many winters and making my share of mistakes, I want to share the knowledge I’ve gained about their winter care needs in this episode.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
Depending on where your plants sit in relation to windows, the amount of light they receive is likely to change during the winter. In general, the volume of light decreases as the days get shorter. However, there is an exception. If you have plants in front of windows that are usually shaded by trees in the warmer months, they may actually get more sunlight exposure in the winter when the trees lose their leaves!
Here are some tips to make sure your plants get the light they need:
• Clean Windows
Give your windows a good wipe down so every bit of available light can shine through clearly to your plants.
• Use Grow Lights
Supplement natural light with artificial plant grow lights like Soltech Aspect™ LED Growlight. They come in various styles at many price points to work for any setup and budget, so you don’t have to worry about finding the right one.
Forced air heating is very drying and tough on tropical plants. Most homes drop into the 20-30% humidity range in winter, much lower than what most houseplants prefer! Forced heat from furnaces, baseboard heaters, and radiators wreaks havoc on houseplants in a few ways:
It Zaps the Humidity Out of the Air
Plants prefer warm and humid conditions. Heaters suck all the moisture out and create a dry environment.
Soil Can Also Dry Out Faster
You might need to water more often than normal if soil is drying out rapidly. Don't cut back on water by default. Pay attention to your plant's needs.
Tips for Dealing with Dry Heat:
Unfortunately, pests tend to thrive when plants are stressed. Lower light and dry air can weaken plants, making them more pest prone. Stay vigilant about regularly checking the undersides of leaves so you can catch invaders early. Keeping plants consistently cared for will also help deter pests.
Plants That Aren't in Ideal Conditions Sometimes Invite Pests More Easily
When growth slows down and conditions aren't optimal, pests see an opportunity to attack.
Tips to Combat Pests:
Contrary to some advice, you don't necessarily need to stop fertilizing over winter if plants are actively putting out new leaves and stems. Assess each plant individually.
Don't Go Off of Standard
If new growth emerges, plants are still metabolizing and benefiting from nutrients. Give them fertilizer to support development.
• Don't Freak Out About Dropping Leaves
It's normal for some older leaves to turn yellow and drop when plants undergo a bit of dormancy. As long as it's not the entire plant dropping leaves, all is OK!
• If You're Craving Some Life, Force Flower Bulbs Inside
Bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhites easily sprout and bloom inside to deliver you some joy in the winter.
I hope these winter plant care tips help you support the needs of your precious houseplant collection over the chilly months! Reach out if you ever have any other plant questions.
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