Let Your Houseplants Rest in Winter

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Many of us grow houseplants and they’re a great accessory to any home décor. They also give us a little touch of green during the dark winter months and stand as a reminder that another growing season is on its way.

Sometimes houseplants don’t stand up to winter conditions in the house very well and the problems usually stem from overly solicitous plant owners. Does this sound like someone you might know very well? We tend to do too much for our houseplants who really just want to be left alone to rest during this time when they should be hibernating and getting ready for the next growing season.

Houseplants require little water in the winter and fertilizer should not be applied between October and the end of March. They should be placed in an area that gets some warmth but not too much light. They don’t like to sit near heat vents, fireplaces or wood stoves, nor do they like drafty places near doors and windows. Humidity in our homes is much lower in the winter so most plants would enjoy a spritz of water on their foliage or even an occasional shower to get the dust off the leaves and to allow them to take in some moisture through their leaves. Ferns, in particular, like a shower as it also helps get rid of lots of dead foliage that plagues them during the winter.

Houseplants need light but sitting them on a table in a room that has indirect light is much preferred to sitting them in a windowsill where they can easily get chilled. Don’t move them around any more than is necessary and the weeping fig especially does not like to be moved. Put it somewhere and leave it alone. Weeping figs are not good travelers and can easily drop all of their leaves when simply moved from one room to the other. The weeping fig is the exception to the rule when it comes to showers. Spritz it instead.

If your house is extremely dry, sit containers of water near your houseplants. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plants. Don’t expect many blooms during the winter. Days are too short for most plants to bloom. There are some exceptions of course. African violets, amaryllis and gardenias offer winter color.

So, the bottom line is to let your plants have a nice vacation and allow them to get ready for spring. Don’t fuss with them and they’ll be fine. Just remember that we kill more houseplants by over-caring for them that we do by a little well-placed neglect.

three potted amaryllis sitting in a window sill

Amaryllis