How To Winterize Your House Plants

During the pandemic, my plants have been my salvation (well, in addition to my kids). Colorful flowers are so cheery — they help me get out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face! During spring and summer, my favorite way to de-stress was enjoying the fresh air outdoors and working in in my garden.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, I'm bringing my plants inside. What’s the right way to winterize house plants? These tips and tricks can help.

1. Special Care

If you have a certain plant that you love, learn more about its winter needs. You don’t have to be an expert on all your house plants, but it’s good to do a little research on special perennial varieties, such as African violets or begonias.

2. Time to Adjust

Before bringing outdoor plants inside, let them adjust gradually to the differences in light and temperature they’re in store for. For example, move potted plants from direct sunlight to some light shade for a few weeks. If possible, avoid repotting plants at all during fall or winter.

3. Plenty of Light

Above all else, house plants need a lot of light during the winter to make up for cloudy weather conditions. Find a nice sunny window for your favorites, preferably in a place that makes you smile, too.

I like to put a console table in my bedroom right next to the window. Windows that face south or west are the best.

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4. Less Water

For most house plants, winter is a rest period. Plants that are dormant don’t need as much water, so scale back on watering. Succulents may not need any water at all.

One way to know when to water is to push a finger down into the soil. Only water if the soil is dry about an inch below the surface.

In the case of tropical plants, you need to adapt your watering schedule to the specific plant. Some need more water during winter to deal with indoor temps.

5. Natural Humidity

In most colder parts of the U.S., winters are dry. Home heating systems make air even drier. Plants usually like humidity levels around 50–60%, but many homes only reach 10–20% in winter. What can you do?

The easiest solution is to place plants near a humidifier. Of course, that requires having a humidifier. If you don’t, the next best thing is to find a sunny window in a moist place, such the kitchen or bathroom.

Another option is to place pots above a tray of water. Fill the tray with pebbles so pots rest over the water without actually touching it.

6. The Right Temperature

Pay attention to your thermostat in winter. For the most part, house plants are happy with comfortable temperatures of 65–75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a little less at night. Avoid extremes by not putting plants too close to fireplaces, vents, outside doors or cold windows.

7. Leaf Cleaning

Over winter, you need to continue cleaning the leaves. You can do this by misting them or wiping off the dust with a soft cloth. Dust prevents plants from absorbing sunlight, so it’s important to keep leaves clean during winter.

Beautiful plants make the home feel alive when you can’t go outside. Follow these tips and enjoy energizing touches of greenery all winter long.