When the seasons transition from summer to autumn, our indoor plants’ needs also change. Providing proper care for your plants allows them to adapt to lower temperatures and fewer daylight hours.

Gradually cooling temperatures and changes in natural light patterns signify the start of autumn. These environmental shifts impact indoor plants’ behaviour and influence their growth, water requirements and overall well-being. It’s a complex ecosystem, so starting small and getting to know the needs of just one or two new plants at a time makes sense — especially for a novice.

Autumn is a good time to update your plant care routine to foster a harmonious relationship between your indoor plants and the changing season. So follow our seven steps to looking after your indoor plants in autumn with tips and tricks along the way.

For more information on looking after specific indoor plants, check out our indoor plant guides.

How To Care for Your Indoor Plants in Autumn for lush beautiful foliage including watering, light and humidity
How To Care for Your Indoor Plants in Autumn for lush beautiful foliage including watering, light and humidity

Step 1 – Autumn Watering Tips

Autumn’s cooler temperatures and reduced sunlight influence the water requirements of indoor plants. Moisture evaporates more slowly, so you can adjust accordingly by letting the soil completely dry out before you water.

Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue exacerbated by cooler temperatures. Yellow leaves, soft patches and dying flowers are red flags that your plants are getting too much moisture. Fungus gnats might begin to hang around since they eat the rotting roots and lay eggs in the soil.

For most species, plan to water no more than once a week through autumn and winter. Get in the habit of checking the moisture levels in the soil every few days. Tapping on the top of the soil is not enough; you should insert your finger to the second knuckle.

Water only when you feel dry soil all the way down.

After you water, the soil should be damp but not sopping wet. Consider using pots with drainage holes if you don’t already to keep moisture from accumulating around the plant’s roots. Plants that require a consistently moist environment are the exception. You should have a regular watering schedule for them since the soil shouldn’t dry out.

You can also check the forecast and place your plants outside in the rain when they need hydration. As a bonus, this low-maintenance method removes the dust that can collect on the leaves of indoor plants. It’s important to gently rinse or wipe down the leaves about once a month since dust blocks the plant’s pores, preventing necessary oxygen release and carbon dioxide intake. When finished apply EarthCare White Oil insect spray as a leaf shiner and to help prevent pest damage.

If you decide to hydrate your plants with a watering can outside, mix Seasol and PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives into the water to boost healthy growth and help reduce stress from cold and low light. If watering inside if the pot has drainage holes, you can immerse the entire thing in a sink or basin of water. The water should reach about two-thirds of the way up the container. It can sit for about 15 minutes to get enough moisture. Then let the pot drain before returning it to its usual home.

To avoid overwatering, do not leave water in plant saucers. Don’t let water collect in the base of plastic pots inside hole-free decorative pots.

Step 2 – Autumn light requirements

The intensity and duration of sunlight decrease in autumn. Without enough light, plants can’t effectively perform photosynthesis, the process of converting the sun’s rays into usable energy. Disruption of photosynthesis leaves the plant without the energy it needs to survive, and it may only last a few days or weeks in that state.

Fortunately, ensuring your plants get the light they need for proper photosynthesis all year is easy. When you notice the days getting shorter, assess the light conditions in your home and reposition your indoor plants accordingly. Consider moving light-loving plants closer to windows. North-facing windows provide the greatest access to natural light. Get creative with plant stands and hanging baskets to make the most of your available rays.

Shade-tolerant plants should receive less direct sunlight to prevent sunburn on their delicate foliage. Remember that the sun’s angle drops lower as the days get shorter and the seasons change from summer to autumn. This can increase direct light levels, so try rotating plants every week or so to support even sun exposure and shapely growth.

Observe each plant’s current setting, then make light adjustments until you find the ideal placement. When a plant isn’t getting enough light, it will grow toward the window. You’ll also notice small, pale growth and few or no flowers, even in the height of blooming season. Plants that get too much light start to wilt, dry out and develop burns.

If you’re just starting your indoor garden, try choosing your plants based on the natural light patterns in your home. Changing the light levels is more difficult than adjusting other variables, such as humidity and temperature. Typically, species with deep green leaves need less light than those with lighter green or variegated foliage. If you aren’t sure how much light an indoor plant needs, remember that most species fall into one of three main categories.

High-light plants

Species requiring high light need three to four hours a day of direct sunlight. If you have a bright area in your home, like a kitchen or a wall of windows, consider adding a ficus, umbrella plant, croton, ponytail palm or rubber plant. Pothos, commonly called devil’s ivy, likes direct sun. Like many plants, it offers the added benefit of removing impurities from your indoor air. However, you must water it frequently when placing it in a high-light areas.

You can rotate your high-light indoor plants outdoors as long as the temperatures in your area stay above frost level. A three-weeks-inside, three-weeks-outside schedule promotes optimal health for these species. If plants haven’t been outdoors before, start slowly by first placing them in a shady spot with sun exposure.

Medium-light plants

Medium-light plants thrive near windows. They require bright but filtered sunlight. In this group, try growing the Fruit Salad plant/Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa), a native of Mexico and Guatemala that will do well in warm, moist areas of your home.

Dracaena is another good choice for spots with bright but indirect light. Add a bit of drama to your space with these long, spiky leaves with vibrant yellow and green stripes. The dracaena stands up well to all conditions, but make sure you have enough space since it can grow close to 2 metres tall. It’s a low-maintenance choice that only needs watering once a week, but it’s not ideal for pet owners since the foliage is toxic to animals.

Low-light level

Low-light plants do best in dim rooms. Popular choices in this category include

  • Mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): A tough plant with beautiful variegated leaves
  • Cast iron plant (Aspidistra spp.): A hardy choice that can thrive just about anywhere, as the name suggests
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.): A plant that can move into the shade for the autumn and winter, then shift back to indirect sunlight as spring approaches so you can enjoy its gorgeous snowy white blooms, not to mention its noted air-purifying benefits
  • Philodendron: A plant that features cute heart-shaped leaves that grow on long, trailing vines

Try these options to brighten up shaded corners of your home. However, some spaces are too dark, even for low-light species. In general, a plant won’t thrive in a room or nook if you can’t comfortably read in that spot.

How To Care for Your Indoor Plants in Autumn for lush beautiful foliage including watering, light and humidity

Step 3 – Temperature control

When cooler temperatures arrive, monitor the indoor climate for your plants. Tropical species that thrived in the summer may struggle in cooler conditions.

Avoid placing plants too close to windows and vents. Cold air can stress the plants, while heat from heaters and heating systems can dry out the leaves. Using shades and curtains also shields against less-than-ideal temperatures.

Providing a consistent temperature range all year promotes overall plant health. Most plants do well within the range of 15-27 C. Try tropical plants if you tend to keep your home on the warmer end of that scale. For example, the flamingo lily thrives in warm, low-light environments with plenty of humidity.

Step 4 – Humidity

Indoor plants sometimes suffer from lower humidity levels in autumn, especially when they have tropical origins. Try using a humidifier or placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near your plants. These help hydrate your plants so they remain healthy and vibrant. On the other hand, plants can develop fungal infections in high humidity, so keep an eye out for signs of this issue.

You can place high-humidity rainforest plants together to create the appropriate microclimate within your home. Brighten up your bathroom with a selection of these species, then watch them thrive in this warm, wet environment. In any room, spray the leaves with water each morning and keep them away from heaters, which can dry out the leaves. Brown foliage shows that your plants need more humidity.

Ficuses, monsteras and Boston ferns also do well in high-humidity environments. Try a spider plant if you have a drier home with low humidity.

Step 5 – Autumn Repotting Tips

Check the plant’s potting mix soil condition regularly. A premium indoor potting mix such as Seasol Indoor Potting Mix is important for indoor plants since they can’t stretch out their roots to seek additional nutrients from the soil. In addition to a premium potting mix, you can water with Seasol regularly every two weeks to improve plant health by helping the plant adapt to changes in temperature.

Often, the stems and leaves start to droop and sag when plants aren’t getting the nutrients and moisture they need. You may also find the potting mix dry when you push your finger in to test the moisture level. Applying a soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner will help to overcome this and get water to where it’s needed.

Repotting as Needed

Consider refreshing the potting mix of plants you haven’t repotted recently to provide a nutrient-rich environment. Remove debris and dead leaves from the top layer, then repot the plant with a premium potting mix such as Seasol Indoor Potting Mix. If the plant doesn’t need repotting, consider topping it up with premium potting mix and adding Seasol Potting Mix Booster with beneficial microbes to the top layer of the mix to helps restore, revitalise and extend the life of it.

If you don’t get a chance to repot in the autumn, skip winter and wait until spring or summer to complete this task. Most species outgrow their containers every one to two years.

Tips to look after indoor plants with PowerFeed

Step 6 – Feeding indoor plants in autumn

Autumn is a good time to evaluate the nutritional needs of your indoor plants. Although growth rates slow down in autumn, you can maintain their well-being by providing the right nutritional balance throughout the seasons. Indoor plants typically require a blend with equal amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.

A liquid or granular fertiliser can be used on all indoor plants. Check specific plant tags for more detailed information. Apply granular PowerFeed Controlled Release Pots & Plants for Indoor & Outdoors once every season. It combines a premium mix of nutrients, seaweed, and microbes for all plants in pots. Supplement or apply a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES Pots & Planters or PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives every 2 to 4 weeks from spring to autumn and less often in winter.

For a ready-to-use no-mixing formula, apply PowerFeed Indoor & Potted Plants 1.25 Lt trigger spray to the soil. This easy-to-use liquid fertiliser and soil conditioner helps to improve your soil and feed your plants. Apply every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season and monthly in autumn and winter if needed.

Step 7 – Autumn pruning and maintenance

Autumn is the ideal time to groom and maintain your plants. Pruning prepares them for winter and promotes healthy growth when spring arrives.

Remove dead and yellowing leaves, as well as leggy and excessive growth. Pruning encourages the plant to direct its energy toward healthier parts, encouraging a compact, robust structure. Avoid over pruning, which can distress some species.

How To Care for Your Indoor Plants in Autumn for lush beautiful foliage including watering, light and humidity
How To Care for Your Indoor Plants in Autumn for lush beautiful foliage including watering, light and humidity

Watch out for…

As temperatures cool, pests seek refuge indoors. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of spider mites, aphids, scale insects and other threats. If aphids invade, you might notice tiny brown lumps, scale or sticky, gooey residue. Spider mites show up as white spots on the foliage.

If you see signs of an infestation, treat it promptly with an organic pesticide such as EarthCare White Oil insect spray.

Keep the affected plant away from the other pots so the bugs don’t have the chance to spread. You can also spray your plants with neem oil every few days as a preventative measure.

Plant-Specific Care Tips

Each type of indoor plant has unique needs. Understanding these specific requirements allows you to provide effective autumn care.

Succulents and Cacti

These species are well-suited to the drier conditions of autumn. For indoor succulent plant care in autumn, reduce watering frequency and use a well-draining potting mix to prevent waterlogging. You can maintain the vibrant colours of cacti and other succulents by keeping them in indirect but bright light.

Cacti and other succulents like to spend time outdoors. When temperatures drop in autumn, consider bringing them inside for a few days at a time to let them adapt slowly to the changes in climate and environment. Some stunning succulents to add to your collection include the jade plant, prickly pear, cowboy cactus and agave geminiflora.

Tropical Plants

Plants from tropical climates often require additional attention during autumn. Give them the tender loving care they need by providing higher humidity levels, adjusting light exposure and protecting them from drafts. Insulating them against sudden temperature drops is important, especially in regions with cooler evenings.

You can customise soil for tropical plants by mixing in perlite or vermiculite. These substances help the dirt hold water, giving these species the hydrated environment they need.

The Kentia palm is an outstanding choice in this category for a humid but lower-light area of your home. You can also select the maidenhair fern as a hanging plant for your bathroom or as the centrepiece for a tubside terrarium. It’s characterised by the delicate, pale green leaves cascading over its container’s edge. We also like the beachy lady palm (Rhapis excelsa), an easy-care tropical plant that you can place in a spot with indirect light and water every few days.

Foliage Plants
Foliage plants, known for their lush green leaves, benefit from occasional misting to maintain the proper humidity level. Avoid placing them near heaters or radiators to prevent leaf browning. The prayer plant, or calathea, is a popular choice in this category for its eye-catching striped leaves in rich hues of purple, burgundy and red. It’s an easy-care plant that needs a moderate amount of light.