We've asked the boys from The Plant Runner to help us out this week and give us their top five essential things to keep in mind when caring for indoor plants over winter.
Winter can be a tricky time for indoor plants, with shorter days, colder temperatures and dry air all taking their toll, but with a few simple tips and tricks, you can help your plants survive the winter months in good health. It's actually one of the most common things we get asked about, and can seem like a lot at first but in no time it'll feel like second nature. Below are the 'Big Five' considerations you need to think about when it comes to Winter Plant Care in your home.
One of the most important aspects of caring for indoor plants over winter is adjusting your watering pattern. During this season, when temperatures drop and sunlight fades, there are fewer opportunities for plants to absorb water through their roots. This means that it’s crucial to ensure that plants continue to be watered adequately but not excessively, as overwatering is the indoor plants public enemy #1 over this season.
It can be difficult to know how much water a plant needs over winter, but generally speaking, you should be watering your plants less often over winter as the majority of indoor plants will enter into a dormant phase and require fewer resources. Please note though - if you live somewhere that doesn't see lots of seasonal change, or the temperature in your home stays pretty consistent year round, you might not need to make any changes. We love sticking our fingers in the pots and getting a feel for how damp the potting media is, and developing an idea as to how quickly (or slowly) the plants are absorbing water. This will help you adjust your schedule as required.
The temperature of your home can have a big impact on the health of your plants over winter. As temperatures begin to drop, plants may become more sensitive to cold drafts or strong heat sources such as radiators and heating vents. If your plant is exposed to temperatures below 10°C, it can be damaged and its long-term health will suffer. To protect your plants from the cold, consider relocating them away from windows, doors, radiators, and heating vents. Another option is to place plastic sheeting on the windows to insulate against cold drafts. Additionally, you may want to invest in an indoor thermometer so that you can monitor the temperature in your home and adjust it accordingly if needed.
Winter brings shorter days and cooler temperatures, but the sun still plays an important role in stimulating healthy plant growth. As the days get shorter, the intensity of the sun's rays is reduced. This means less photosynthesis for plants which can lead to slower growth and weakened systems when caring for plants.
In the winter, the sun sits lower in the sky compared to other times of the year. This means that there are fewer hours of daylight in general, as well as a decrease in direct sunlight hitting your home and plants. On top of this, during the winter months there may be increased cloud coverage which further reduces direct sunlight exposure. As a result of reduced sun exposure, most plants will enter into a dormant phase where growth almost ceases until spring arrives again.
In order to provide your indoor plants with enough light over winter, you might need to shuffle your plants with the seasons so they all get access to as much of the available plants light as possible. Windows are typically the best source for natural light, so make sure in winter that you position your plants close enough to take full advantage of this sunlight. Just make sure you're not putting your plants in direct sunlight though - even though the winter sun is not as intense, it can still burn your plant's foliage if they get too much of it. Bright, indirect light is the key, and if you do need to get some sun, morning light is ideal. If your place gets super dark over the colder months, grow lights are a great option. They imitate the natural daylight and provide a consistent source of light for your indoor plants.
As you know, we are passionate about fertilising. Fertilising is an important part of caring for indoor plants but over winter you need to adjust your routine. As the temperature drops, growth slows down and the need for nutrients is reduced. This means that your plants will require less fertiliser over winter than during other times of the year.
Applying too much fertilizer to your plants can be detrimental to their health in any season, but it’s especially crucial to get the balance right in winter as plants are less able to process excess nutrients due to their slowed metabolism. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your fertilizing frequency by half compared to what you would do during other seasons – so if you usually apply fertilizer every two weeks, cut it back to once a month or even every eight weeks in winter.
It’s also important to make sure you are using the right type of fertilizer for your indoor plants. Different types of fertilizer provide different nutrient levels, and some are designed specifically for use during certain times of year. Make sure you are using a complete fertiliser so your plants are getting all the nutrients they need. Choosing the right type for your particular plant will ensure that it receives just the right amount of nutrition at all times throughout winter. If you ever have any questions about what fertiliser is right for you, the team at Designer Dirt will be more than happy to help out - and we're always up for a chat too if you want to know about our products and what will be best for your situation.
Finally, when applying fertilizer over winter, always ensure that you water your plants thoroughly before and after application as this will help avoid root burn which can cause long term damage to your indoor plant’s health. With these tips in mind, your indoor plants should be able to survive and thrive through even the coldest months! Keep in mind though, if your plants are actively growing throughout the whole year, you won't need to adjust your fertilising routine at all - just keep doing what you're doing!
Humidity levels can significantly drop over winter due to the use of heating systems and aircon that dry out the air in our homes. While it is necessary to keep your home warm, this dry air can cause leaf damage and make it difficult for plants to absorb moisture through their roots.
This is why it’s important to keep humidity levels up. Some tricks we like include: grouping plants together to create a mini biosphere of sorts, or considering a terrarium where perspiration can’t escape so easily. One of our favorite tricks to increase humidity is to place the pots on trays of water with pebbles in them. That way, the roots aren't sitting in the water and the water will increase humidity around the plant as it evaporates. Finally, be super conscious of your heaters! Make sure not to place heaters too close (at least 1.5m away) to your plants as this will cause scorching and wilting due to excess heat exposure.
Oh, and if you're a fan of the misting, we've got some bad news - unless you're misting 12-15 hrs a day, it won't do anything. Think about investing in a humidifier instead!
Ok, so that's it - our top five considerations for Winter Plant Care. If we've forgotten anything, please let us know. Big thanks to Jane and the Designer Dirt Team for letting us swing by for a guest blog.