Winter Plant Care: 10 Best Easy Tips to Keep Your Indoor Plants Alive This Year

Winter Plant Care: 10 Best Easy Tips to Keep Your Indoor Plants Alive This Year

All the winter plant care tips and tricks that will keep your plants alive through the dark and cold part of the year.

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Hello my plant-loving friends! Fall is in full-swing, and winter weather is just around the corner. Whether you’re already pining for summer, or you’re a snow-bunny at heart, we have to face the facts: most plants don’t like winter.

Maybe you’ve already noticed a change in your plants. Maybe you just know the changes are coming and you want to be prepared. Or maybe you’re looking to get a gift for the plant lover in your life this holiday season, and want to be sure that it will fare well until warm weather returns.

I’m hoping that no matter where you are on your plant-parent journey this guide to winter plant care will help you brave the colder seasons with your green friends fully intact.

Common Questions About Winter Plant Care

Do indoor plants die in the winter?

The short answer is no, indoor plants definitely do not die in the winter.

I know it can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve just gotten the hang of keeping them alive in the summer, to suddenly be having issues when the weather turns.

Can plants die in the winter? Absolutely.

But I’m not going to let you let that happen!

What happens to plants in the winter?

In the winter plants go dormant, meaning they’re essentially taking a long winter nap (goals). This means that basically there will be no new growth during this entire time.

They may look a bit sadder and some species may even drop their leaves (like outside trees!) but it doesn’t mean they’ve died.

The dormant period varies from plant to plant, and things like your geographical location, the direction that your windows face, and the humidity levels in your home can all impact your plant’s survival.

Also, not to be alarmist, but winter is the easiest time to kill a plant. So grab a notebook – you’re going to want to remember these winter plant care tips.

Winter plant care

Do plants need sun in winter?

Yes. Your plants will need as much sun as they can possibly get during the winter! It’s one of the few things you’ll want to double down on, rather than cutting back.

If you live somewhere especially dark, or already struggle with natural light in your home, my winter plant care tips below will give a few suggestions about how to deal with this problem.

What do you do with indoor plants in the winter?

Before I get into the tips, lets go over the general rule of thumb for winter plant care.

You’ll want to remember three things to keep your plants alive in the winter:

  • Keep them warm
  • Keep them lit
  • Keep them dry

In other words, take care of them just like you would yourself!

The 10 tips will really up your winter plant care game, but if you find yourself ever forgetting the specifics, just remember those three.

How do you keep plants alive in the winter?

1. Prune them NOW – before it gets cold

If you’re reading this and it hasn’t started to get too cold, you can probably still get away with this. Make the judgement call for yourself – are your plants still growing? Is your house draftier? Are you losing light?

If conditions are still similar enough to how they were in the summer, I say prune away.

If the weather is already changing, avoid this. Pruning during the winter can shock your plants, and since they’re dormant they won’t have a sufficient amount of resources to handle it and recover.

Pruning your plants can be overwhelming, but just make sure you’re getting rid of dead leaves, and cutting back any overgrown areas.

And please, make sure you do it with clean gardening shears.

2. Ditto for repotting

Solid winter plant care depends on keeping plants as unstressed as possible. So basically, do the same self assessment from the first tip and apply it here.

Is it still clearly fall where you are? If so you can still repot your plants.

If it’s becoming winter, probably best to wait until next Spring.

Repotting plants shocks them, and it takes them a while to adjust to a new environment – things they won’t be able to do very efficiently as they’re basically taking a long nap. Also, plants are always a bit prone to overwatering when you first repot them, so let’s not tempt fate here.

Winter plant care: repotting

3. Water them less

Because plants go dormant in the winter, they need a lot less fuel to stay alive. They won’t “drink” as much water as during warmer months, so if you keep to your normal water schedule you’ll end up overwatering them – which is one of the easiest ways to kill a plant in any season!

Aim to water your plants about half as often as you were during their growing months.

If you’re unsure if it needs water, always do the touch test: stick your finger into the soil just past the first knuckle, and if the soil is damp when you pull it out, do not water that plant.

Some plants, such as cacti and succulents may not even need to be watered for the entirety of winter.

If you’re unsure if you’re watering correctly always err on the side of less is more. If you start to notice droopy yellow leaves it’s a sign that you may have been overwatering your plants, and in the winter especially it can be hard to come back from that.

4. Hit pause on fertilizing

I know it can be hard to stop fertilizing your plants if you’ve seen massive growth from the spring and summer – but seriously, don’t do it!

Your plants are resting. Giving them extra, unnecessary nutrients right now will only hurt them.

If for some reason you feel you must (you know your plants better than I do) make sure to dilute the fertiliser concentration by half. And if you live in seriously cold climates just… please don’t do this at all. Seriously, put the fertilizer down and step away from the plant!

Winter plant care: reduce watering

5. Let there be light!

Lol. But seriously, make sure your plants see as much light as possible. Unlike the suggestions around water and fertilizer, just because they’re dormant does not mean they will be okay with less light.

This can be tricky in the winter, so you may need to consider moving your plants to a spot that gets more light if possible, or lighting them artificially.

You’ll be able to tell if they need more light if they have pale, yellow or brown leaves, or have leggy branches.

If there are no better lit spots in your space you can try rotating the plant so that all sides are receiving sunlight, or you can invest in a grow lamp.

No one ever said winter plant care would be a walk in the park!

6. Clean your plants

Speaking of sunlight…

An often neglected part of winter plant care is cleaning our plants!

By making sure that no dust is building up on your plant’s leaves you’re also ensuring that they’re able to take in as much sunlight as possible. Obviously every bit counts when you’re already so low on light, so don’t skip this step.

Dust can also encourage the onset of some diseases in plants, and your plant would have trouble surviving most diseases in the winter.

You can clean your plants by either giving them a gentle shower (would only recommend doing this if it’s time to water them, obviously), or you can take a damp towel and wipe off their leaves individually.

This obviously takes a bit of time but I like to think of it as a nice bonding experience for us.

Winter plant care: artificial grow light

7. Consider purchasing a humidifier

Basically all indoor plants thrive on the air being more humid than not.

That’s why, when it comes to winter plant care, it can be good to mist your plants once a day or more often even, especially if you live in a more arid or cold climate.

If your plants have brown leaf tips, or you notice the presence of pests, those can both be signs of air that is too dry.

During winter months the air is naturally drier, something you’ve likely noticed as you lather on the hand lotion more and more, and so your plants may struggle a bit. You definitely don’t have to purchase a humidifier in order to give your plants some extra moisture in the air, but I will warn you that the DIY versions are pretty annoying.

You can either mist your plants like, 4 times a day (this may not be so bad if you have under 10 plants), or you can set your plant pots together on some rocks on some baking trays, fill the trays with water (but don’t let the water touch the pots) and let them sit for a while…

Like I said… this really doesn’t seem worth it to me.

If you’re looking to get a humidifier to up your winter plant care, Etsy has a bunch that are also really cute, so they can blend in with your decor!

8. Pay attention to the temperature

If you’re lucky maybe none of your windows are drafty, but chances are that at least some rooms in your house get drafty in the winter.

If you can, move plants away from the windows (but make sure they’re still somewhere with good light).

If there’s nowhere with good light that’s not on a windowsill, you can do one of two things (or both actually).

You can line your windows with scarves and other fabrics so that it’s less drafty, and/or you can move your plants at night and put them back by the window each morning.

On the flip side, make sure none of your plants are too close to active heaters.

If you control the heating in your home this can be a lot easier, as you can just adjust the placement of plants when you’re using the heat. But if you have the heat on all winter, you may need to semi-permanently move your plants all season, otherwise they’ll be very, very unhappy.

9. Consider a DIY tonic

This is not entirely necessary, so if you’re already feeling like the other winter plant care tips have given you a full plate, truly feel free to skip this.

But if you really want to up your game, let’s talk about tonics!

Spraying a little tonic on your plants can help with leaf spots and also act a pest removal. I would do some research to make sure you’re using the correct type of recipe for your specific plants, but the one I’ve seen used the most often is 4 teaspoons baking soda to a gallon of water & a few drops of murphy oil. Add to a spray bottle and spray your plants!

10. Have a travel plan

Obviously during the holidays there is a higher chance of us going away to see family (well, maybe not this year). If you’re going to be away for more than about two-ish weeks, my number one suggestion would be to have someone come and tend to your plants while you’re away.

If you can’t do that for any reason, here are my second best tips.

Do not close any of your blinds while you’re away to ensure that your plants will get maximum sunlight.

If there is any possibility of controlling the temperature while you’re gone, try to leave it at an optimal temp for plants. Otherwise they’ll get way too cold.

And on that note, you’ll want to try to get some sort of air-flow going in your home. Lack of airflow can be quite bad for plants as well.

Winter plant care

Are you ready to ace your winter plant care?

With just a few tweaks to your usual care routine, you’ll be on the road to model plant-parent in no time.

I know it can be really overwhelming to have to start changing a routine you’ve grown accustomed to. But if you just try to stick to these 10 tips for winter plant care, you and your plants will be coming out of winter so prepared for spring you won’t even know what hit you!

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