Keeping your favorite houseplants healthy this winter

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

With the onset of cold weather, winterizing your outdoor garden is a no-brainer. Did you know that there are some steps you should take to winterize your indoor garden, as well?

While it may not make sense at first, your home does experience a significant environmental change as the weather gets colder. Colder weather brings with it drier air. The more you use the heater, the drier your air gets. The shorter days mean your indoor plants are getting even less light than they did before. In some cases there can be as much as a 50% reduction.

So how can you ensure your favorite asparagus fern stays sprightly and green this winter?

Do some maintenance

Get rid of any dead or yellow leaves. Cut away weak growth or damage. Also, rinse off any dust that may have accumulated on the leaves of your plants. A quick shower under your sink’s hose should be enough. For broad-leaved plants, consider giving them a quick wipe.

Give it some light!

While those south and west-facing windows may have been too intense for some houseplants during the summer, they may be perfect for them now that winter’s weaker light has set in. Consider rearranging your plants to take full advantage of the light your home gets.

Maybe your house already doesn’t get a lot of light and you don’t have any good south-facing windows. You can also use the artificial light in your home. I have a fluorescent light under my kitchen cabinets I always flip on while prepping dinner. I bring my more light hungry plants into the kitchen in the evening to take advantage of this.

Be wary of drafts and blasts

Make an effort to keep your plants away from drafty spots like older windows. If you need to keep them near a window for the light, consider sealing off any gaps to minimize the effects of wind and cold air. Also, be wary of heating vents and arrange your plants so all that hot, dry air won’t blast them.

While some plants, such as succulents and cacti, don’t mind drier conditions, many plants need a little humidity boost during the drier winter months. You may want to use a humidifier to add extra moisture to the air. Or, you can group plants together to maximize their moisture output. An even simpler way to get more humidity to your plants is to place them on a humidity tray. Simply fill a plastic or glass tray with some rocks, pebbles or gravel and pour a little water in the bottom. Set your plants on top and refill as necessary. Make sure your plants aren’t sitting in a pool of water or you may get root rot.

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