It’s officially autumn, which means nights are cooler, days are shorter, and—should you have given then an outdoor vacation—it’s high time to bring your houseplants back indoors. But the return to indoor living can be tough for tropical plants. Here are some winter houseplant care tips for easing the transition and setting your houseplants up for success during the cold months.
Bringing houseplants back indoors for the winter
Most houseplants enjoy the occasional lukewarm shower. It’s a great way to quickly remove dust and many pests.
1. Transition gradually: Sudden changes in temperature and light can stress plants. Start by gradually reducing their time outdoors, bringing them in during the evenings, and eventually keeping them indoors for full days.
2. Check for pests: Before bringing a tropical plant back indoors after an extended stint outdoors, check closely for pests. These include not just common indoor plant pests but outdoor critters as well.
“To check for slugs and snails I put a piece of cucumber on the soil’s surface and check it regularly,” says Conor Preston, Figaro’s Garden Manager. If damage is found, handpick slugs or treat with slug bait.
3. Clean and prune: This is a great time to give your plants a good wash. Wipe leaves with a moist cloth to remove any dust or debris (or give them a brief, lukewarm shower). Trim off any dead or unhealthy foliage.
4. Consider a cooler location: If you can keep plants cool, many drastically slow down their growth and can survive with little light. This is a popular strategy for larger tender plants; some people keep oleanders in dark garages or brugmansia in basements. Don’t forget to water! Check every week to make sure the stems aren’t desiccating.
Care for houseplants in winter by providing them with plenty of light. A sunny window ledge is ideal for sun-loving plants.
Winter houseplant care
Getting up close and personal by picking up your houseplants is a good way to ensure you stay on top of any problems, like pests and under or overwatering.
1. Prioritize lighting: The houseplants we grow are native to more tropical climates where they get more or less the same amount of light throughout the year. They can struggle with winter’s cloudy and rainy weather and short days. Choose the brightest spots in your home for your plants or supplement with indoor grow lights. South-facing windows generally receive the most light, making them ideal for light-loving plants.
2. Adjust watering and feeding: Make sure your plants actually need water before you give it to them: evaporation, transpiration and photosynthesis all slow down, so the soil will stay moist for longer after waterings. Constantly moist soil is a recipe for root rot. Not sure how to check if your plants need water? Simple: stick your finger about an inch into the potting mix. If the soil feels dry, give plants a drink. If it’s still damp, hold off. Alternatively, just pick up the whole pot to gauge hydration by weight.
Similarly, ease off on fertilizing your plants over the winter months. You can feed at a lower concentration if you see new growth, but otherwise you can take a break from this task.
Figaro’s Garden’s custom-made Tropical Potting Blend
is ideal for developing a healthy root system and preventing root rot in the dark winter months.
3. Keep monitoring for pests:
With heaters on, the air dries. Many sap-sucking pests like spider mites and scale flourish in dry environments. Check plants regularly and treat pests
before infestations get out of hand.
The transition from the great outdoors to the cozy indoors requires adjustments from both you and your plants. Following these best practices will go a long way toward happy plants. Stay attentive and your houseplants will thrive and bring you joy throughout the cool months.