Unless you live in a zone where temperatures never dip below freezing, you know the important annual ritual of bringing plants indoors for the winter. But keeping plants safe from frost is just the minimum – there are several other important steps to take if you want them to be happy and healthy all winter long.
Here are 5 clever ways to winter proof plants in the home:
1. Increase humidity. One big difference between indoor and outdoor plant conditions is one you might never think to notice: humidity. The average home is a relatively dry place, and in winter it’s even drier. Most plants prefer about 50% humidity, while your house could easily be as low as 10%. You can increase humidity by clustering them together, keeping them in the bathroom or kitchen, or placing their pots in a dish of water filled with stones (to keep the pot elevated). Humidifiers in the home can help too.
2. Pay attention to light. Some houseplants thrive in shade, but most need a good supply of light every day, which means they should be placed near windows. Not just any window will do, though. If you live in the northern hemisphere (and you probably do), opt for south-facing windows, as they’ll get the most light in winter. Rotate your plant regularly, so it doesn’t grow toward the window and get lopsided.
3. Adjust slowly. Light and temperature are very different indoors and out. If you’re moving plants indoors, bring them in for a few hours more each day to give a chance to adjust gradually and lessen the risk of shock.
4. Pay less attention. Your instinct is probably to pay more attention to your plants in the winter, since they’re close by and you see them every day. It’s the exact opposite of what they need, however, and many times we tend to “kill them with kindness.” Most plants go dormant or slow down their growth in winter, which means they need less water and virtually no fertilizer. Less is almost always more in this case.
5. Check for drafts. Odds are you keep your house at a livable temperature for most plants, but it’s important to remember that the number on the thermostat doesn’t necessarily apply everywhere. Keep an eye out for drafts – plants near doors or windows might be living at a much colder temperature than you think. You might need to insulate around windows, or just find a spot for your plants that’s warm and toasty.