We aren’t the only ones struggling with the shorter days, colder temperatures, and drier air here in Iowa. Our houseplants are also affected by the lower light levels, frigid drafts, and arid air from our furnaces.
However, these harsh conditions don’t have to mean certain death for your household greenery. Here’s how to protect your indoor plants through the winter.
Keep a consistent temperature. Move your plants away from heat registers, radiators, and drafty entryways. Most houseplants prefer between 65-75 ̊F and are fine with a little dip in temperature at night. However, drastic temperature changes, like those they might experience near a radiator, heat register, or even too close to the front door, can be shocking for plants.
Turn plants toward the light. As your plants seek out more light, they may unbalance themselves. If you notice them leaning towards a window, turn their pot to get them to straighten up again. You may need to turn them regularly throughout winter.
Find a sunnier spot. As the sun gets lower, some areas in our homes may get more or less direct light. If the light has changed drastically in one spot, consider moving your plants a bit to suit their ideal light preferences. If you don’t get very much light into your home in the winter, you may want to consider getting a grow light or two to help your plants through the shortest days of the year.
Don’t let leaves touch glass window panes. Glass can get really cold when it’s chilly outside, and when plant tissue sits against it, it can give your plant a nasty case of frostbite.
Boost the humidity. Most plants thrive in 40-50% humidity, and some, like tropicals, even appreciate a little more. Furnaces dry out the air like crazy. You can recreate that humidity by grouping your plants closer together, misting your plants regularly, adding some pebble trays underneath your plant pots, or running a humidifier in rooms where you keep plants.
Adjust your watering schedule. If you watered your houseplants weekly in the summer, you’ll need to change up your schedule for the winter. Some plants may only need water every ten days, while some may need to be watered every five days. Check the soil with the tip of your finger; if it’s dry down to half an inch or an inch, it’s ok to water. If possible, use room temperature water. Let the water sit for a day inside your watering can to allow it to come to room temperature and let any chlorine evaporate.
Cut back your fertilizing. Houseplants in Iowa do not need fertilizer in winter. Give your plants a break on the feeding for the winter, and start back up in spring.
Give your plants a shower or bath. When our furnaces kick in, it seems to stir up a lot of dust that we didn’t even know was there. Dusty leaves can hamper your plant’s ability to breathe and photosynthesize. Your plants will benefit from a wipe down of the leaves or an actual gentle spray from the showerhead in your bathroom.
Do some light pruning. Clip back tall and leggy stems and yellowing leaves to encourage new growth for spring.
Keep your eyes peeled for pests. Our houseplants are particularly vulnerable to pest infestations as they adjust from summer to winter conditions. Keep a close watch on the stems and the undersides of leaves for signs of pests.
Your houseplants may require a little extra care through the winter, but it’s an excellent way to keep your green thumbs active. A bit of indoor gardening is good for our health, too!
If you have any questions about how to care for your houseplants through the winter, stop by our garden center in Cumming. We can help you keep your houseplants alive through the winter so they can thrive again next spring.