Here's how to make sure your houseplants survive the winter

·4-min read
Photo credit: TorriPhoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: TorriPhoto - Getty Images

You know you're deep into adulthood when your houseplant collection suddenly extends beyond that one Peace Lily your parents optimistically gifted you for your 18th birthday.

They were definitely onto something though, as houseplants have been shown to boost your mood and improve the air quality of your space. And – let's face it –after spending a year-and-a-half indoors, we've needed it: investing in everything from succulents to cacti, to help freshen up our interiors.

As we head towards the chillier months, it's never been more important to keep our houseplants, you know, alive.

Whether you need a little guidance on the best time to water your plants during winter, or are stuck for ideas on how to keep indoor plants warm in the colder months, we've compiled a handy little guide to help you on your way.

Here, Samantha Jones, gardening expert at shares her top tips for keeping your houseplants alive this winter:

Reduce watering

If your horticultural knowledge doesn't extend beyond 'water it and hope for the best', it's time to listen up. While you may be forgiven for thinking that plants need more water when it's cold, according to Samantha that's just not the case.

She explains, "Dormant plants need very little water. If the plants are overwatered, they’ll either rot as water amasses in the compost or produce soft, weak growth. Make sure to test more than the top of the soil, some need to be dried out before being watered again, go down a few inches to see if the soil is dry. To avoid damage, reduce watering to once every fortnight."

She adds that the only exception to this rule is plants which are winter-flowering, such as poinsettias, which "need watering as and when the compost feels dry."

Regularly clean their leaves

For leafy houseplants (AKA not your cactus), it's important to wipe off any dust that gathers on their surface as it can "limit the amount of light that can reach the surface area, making it harder for them to produce food," according to Samantha.

She recommends "Using a damp cloth [to] wipe off the dust every morning or stand the plant in a lukewarm shower for 5 minutes every week."

Check for insects

You're not the only one whose been admiring the Calathea on your windowsill. Samantha explains that,"A warm house is the perfect environment for plant pests, such as thrips, to breed over the winter." To make sure you catch and deal with them before they have a chance to cause any damage, you need to "Inspect your plants each day by looking above and under the leaves."

Keep them warm

If (like me) you can't work out why the Swiss Cheese plant in your bathroom looks so downright miserable, it might be time to move it to a warmer location. For most houseplants a temperature of 12-18 degrees will do, but as Samantha explains, "each plant can differ as they come in a wide variety of colours, sizes, and shapes."

Her advice? "Ensure you know the ideal temperate for the plants you own and keep an eye on your thermostat. Position them away from cold draughts or open windows. If they are sitting on a windowsill, leave the curtains open as they trap cold air at night."

Group plants together

Samantha explains that, "Grouping your house plants together will raise the humidity level around them. This will help them thrive in similar conditions and for some, can form their own mini biome. Either move the pots closer together or put similar plants in the same pot."

This also means you can get your watering done much quicker. Win-win.

Move into the light

Plants, like us, need that vitamin D. And with dwindling daylight hours, it's really important to maximise the amount of sunlight they receive. Samantha recommends, "If you can, move them into a sunny porch so they can benefit from the light in different directions. If this isn’t an option, move your plants onto a south facing windowsill and ensure your windows are regularly cleaned."

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