Caring for Indoor Plants this Winter
However, just bringing them inside during the cold-weather months is not enough. In fact, during the winter, you have to change up your whole indoor plant care routine for those plants that live indoors all year as well. It is not just about the cold weather but the lack of sun, chilly air drafts, and the dry heat from running your heater. First of all, let’s talk about what plants you need to bring indoors in the first place.
What Do I Need to Bring Indoors?
Some of the plants that grow great outdoors most of the year have to come inside when the temperatures start to get close to freezing. Some of the most common include the Begonia, Fuchsia, Geranium, Flowering Maple, Caladium, Crepe Myrtle, Boxwood, Coleus, and the Hibiscus. Of course, you also need to bring in herbs such as rosemary, lemongrass, chives, parsley, basil, and hot peppers.
Too Much of a Good Thing is a Bad Thing
While many people think that most plants die from not enough water, it is usually just the opposite. People tend to overwater their indoor plants just because they see them more often than their outdoor plants. But most plants are happier with a bit of a drier root than a soaked root. In fact, some plants like to go completely dry before getting watered again. To test the moisture, reach down about two inches from the top rather than just feeling the top of the dirt. The best thing to do is to find out how much each individual plant needs to be watered and stick with it. Water them on a certain day every time so you will not forget and stick to the schedule no matter what. If you are worried that your heater may be drying them out too much, put a humidifier nearby.
It's Time for a Diet
Even though it may sound harsh, your houseplants need to go on a diet during the winter. Check with Google to be sure, but most indoor plants do not need any fertilizer during the winter months. In fact, feeding them during this time of year can make them sick so just give them sun and water during the colder months of the year. Don’t worry, they will not mind the diet.
Keep Them Warm
Keeping your plants away from cold drafts is important as well. Just as if you were sitting by a drafty door or window, your plants get uncomfortable when being repeatedly subjected to cold drafts. In fact, being too close to a cold draft all the time can kill some plants. Most indoor plants like to be at about 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit although some may like it a little cooler. Check the individual plant for the temperature that they like best and then try to keep them at that temperature. You can use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the space your plant is in and to determine if there are any drafts, just stand there for a few minutes and you will find out. And don’t forget about the sun.
Let There Be Light
You have to remember that there is less sunlight during the winter and it is coming from different areas of the house, so you need to pay attention to which places are sunny and at what time of the day. First, figure out exactly how much sunlight each individual plant needs to be healthiest. Of course, it may say full sun or partial sun on the tag, but it is best to do some research. Google it and find out which of your plants like a lot of sun and which ones do not. And, don’t forget that sunlight increases the temperature for the plant so keep that in mind when determining the temperature for each plant. Also, wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth if they get dusty so they can absorb more light.
Watch for Diseases
Another reason for wiping the leaves to keep them clean is that dust can cause disease or pest infiltration. Some diseases to watch out for include:
Watch for yellow or wilted leaves as well as a sour smell. If you are keeping your plants too wet, root rot can waterlog the soil and suffocate the roots, which will die.
This fungal disease, which is also called Botrytis, can attack the whole plant. What you need to look for is fuzzy gray mold growing anywhere on the plant.
If you see white powder on the leaves of your plant, it may have this disease. It may not kill your plant, but it will weaken it so something else can attack and kill it.
This disease causes black, brown, yellow, or water spots on the leaves. When it gets worse, the spots will connect and kill the leaves. It can also cause dust on the flowers and other leaves.
Any kind of virus in your plant can cause streaks, mottled, or distorted leaves as well as stunting the plant’s growth. Most of these viruses are not curable and contagious so if your plant has a virus, get rid of it.
You may think that your plants are safe from bugs when you bring them indoors. But, no, you also have to worry about indoor houseplants when it comes to pest control. In fact, they are more susceptible because these pests can multiply quickly because there are no natural predators indoors. Here are some of the pests to look out for:
These bugs look like tiny white moths and fly around the leaves when the plant is moved. They can cause your plant to turn yellow and die.
These nasty little buggers are tiny insects with a hard shell that suck the nutrients from the plant leaves and stems. You will see small dots under the leaves and stems if your plant is infiltrated.
The mealybug is easy to see because it is larger than most pests. They look like cotton and collect underneath of the plant’s leaves.
These tiny bugs are hard to see but they look like tiny dots under the leaf by the stem. The leaves will look faded and you may see some webbing.
This pest is commonly seen in plants and they are either white, black, yellow, or green. The leaves will look distorted and weak if your plant is infested with aphids.
Keep Them Healthy
To keep your indoor plants healthy until spring, you just have to follow these simple tips and do not overwater or feed. Keep an eye out for pests or infections and make sure they get the amount of sun and heat they need. Hopefully, they will make it until spring and you can move them back outdoors.