4 Tips for Keeping Plants Happy and Healthy During the Winter

updated Feb 27, 2020
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Credit: Minette Hand

If you’ve managed to get through the winter so far (partially) unscathed, congrats! It takes a lot of will power to prep your home for the cold weather, maintain your mental health (winter blues are the worst), and play holiday host while holding it all together. Obviously, self-care is super important during this time of year, but the plants in your life also require additional, seasonal-specific TLC to survive the winter fully intact. 

For advice on how to protect plants during the winter months, Apartment Therapy consulted with plant parent extraordinaire expert Joyce Mast, better known as Bloomscape’s Plant Mom

Dust your plant’s leaves

For starters, Plant Mom advises plant parents to do away with the dust. “Your houseplant may be more vulnerable to insects during the colder months because of their state of dormancy—insects love to hide out in the dust and the leaves of your plant,” Mast explains.  

To combat this issue, remove the dust from plant leaves with a damp cloth or spray them with water. Trimming yellowing or dead leaves with a pair of sharp shears also helps to alleviate the issue.

Add humidity

Allowing the heat from the fireplace to lull you to sleep feels great, but be mindful of the fact that your plants could be suffering in silence. The same warmth that brings us comfort when it’s freezing out reduces the humidity in our homes, which could harm your plants. 

According to Plant Mom, you could create a plant huddle by placing your plants in close proximity to one another. This, Mast says, creates a microclimate, kind of like when humans (and animals) snuggle up together to create warmth.

Additionally, consider placing a humidifier near your plants or moving them to an area where the air isn’t as dry, such as the bathroom or the kitchen.

Check the temperature

Chances are when you winterize your home, the windows and the doors get a ton of attention because a drafty home isn’t an ideal environment for you or your plants, particularly when it’s freezing outside. In addition to moving your plants if you detect drastic temperatures in their usual location, Plant Mom suggests keeping an eye on the temps.

“You should always keep your plant at an average temperature during the day at 65-75 and no lower than 50 degrees at night,” she says. 

Water less

Finally, keep your plants thriving during the winter by going easy on the watering. Like animals that are less active when it’s cold out, plants are more laid-back during the winter, which means they require less water to sustain. To avoid ending up with nasty case of root rot on your hands, Plant Mom suggests performing the touch test before you water.

“Push your finger into the soil until it reaches your middle knuckle,” she says. “If the soil feels moist to the touch, do not water your plants and check again in a few days. If the soil feels dry, give your plants a good soak until water flows out of the bottom drainage holes. Set it back on the saucer making sure there is never any standing water in the saucer itself.” 

Putting these tips to use won’t do anything about the weather, but they can stop the coldest months of the year from taking the fun out of plant ownership.