It’s no secret that the weather has a direct impact on the health of your plants, so the cooler temperatures and shorter days of winter affect the lifetime of the greenery you keep in your home. Adopting a new indoor plant care regimen during the winter season is easy when you use a few simple strategies to keep your indoor plants happy, healthy and looking good.

General tips help with indoor plant care for all varieties of houseplants, but different species have specific needs to stay healthy. Knowing which types of plants you have in your home allows you to customise your winter care regimen so the plants continue to thrive even in the cooler weather.

  • Foliage Plants Many people use foliage plants in their homes because the greenery is lush and vibrant with pops of colour from beautiful blooms. Foliage plants are relatively easy to care for because they require moderate humidity and light, so they don’t need extensive care to stay healthy. Cast iron plants are one type of foliage variety.

Moistening their leaves every few days helps foliage plants maintain the perfect humidity level. Spray water lightly over the plant until the leaves are damp but not soaked. When the moisture evaporates into the air, it naturally increases the humidity in the room.

One thing you need to avoid is placing foliage plants close to heat sources. If you position these houseplants too close to stoves, radiators or lamps, the heat burns and damages the leaves. Large portions of your plant may have yellow streaks or brown, crumbly leaves if it is too close to a heat source.

  • Tropical Plants They have gorgeous colours, but they need more care than other plant varieties in the winter months. They naturally thrive in bright, warm environments with high levels of humidity, so you have to mimic these conditions to have healthy tropical plants.

Using a humidifier is the best way to keep the air in your home moist enough for tropical plants. Consider mixing vermiculite or perlite into the potting soil for these plants to help the dirt trap moisture.

Making sure tropical plants get enough sunlight in winter can be tricky. Place them near a windowsill to provide natural light. Some species also grow well if they are under artificial light, so if the day isn’t long enough to give your plant adequate sunlight, place it directly under an indoor light for a few hours.

The biggest key to caring for tropical plants in the winter is protecting them from draughts. They thrive in tropical environments and can’t handle cold weather, so you need to remove them from windowsills during chilly periods. In extreme cases, you need to insulate the stem and root system until the cold snap passes.

  • Succulents and Cacti They thrive in dry environments, so they are perfect for winter. They don’t need much water, and they grow just as well in indirect light as bright sunlight.

Like tropical plants, you need to protect cacti and succulents from extremely cold weather because they do better in warm environments. You may also need to water cacti and succulents less frequently than other plant varieties because they need minimal hydration to survive. Cacti show their health through vibrant colours, so you only need to adjust your indoor plant care regimen if your houseplants appear dull and faded.

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

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

Step 1 – Winter watering tips

Water is just as important as sunlight to plants, but they need less hydration during the winter season. Cooler temperatures mean that moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly from the soil as it does during the summer months. Instead of watering frequently to keep plants from dying during the summer, you should change your watering schedule to once a week or fortnight for most indoor plants during winter.

Overwatering is a common mistake in indoor plant care during the autumn and winter months. Because of the cooler temperatures, moisture stays in the soil for longer periods of time. You can let the soil dry out completely before you water indoor plants in the winter. If you water too frequently, the plant may develop root rot. The presence of fungus gnats, soft patches on the leaves, yellow spots or dying flowers are all major indicators of this plant disease.

Checking the soil for moisture is simple. Insert your finger in the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil feels damp, you don’t need to water the plant yet. If the soil is dry all the way to the bottom of the pot, the plant needs water.

It’s important not to add too much water to the soil. You don’t want moisture to pool around the roots because it has nowhere else to go. It’s best to pour water until the soil feels damp but not wet. Water the plant in a tub or sink and use pots that have drainage holes so excess liquid can escape without making a mess.

An alternative watering method is to place plants outside during light rainstorms. Not only does the rain hydrate the soil naturally, but it also rinses the leaves of dirt and debris that could hinder sunlight absorption. It’s also a great time to apply Seasol Potting Mix Booster to revitalise potting mix and to water it in with Seasol to promote healthy growth and to help plants cope with winter stresses.

Step 2 – Winter light requirements

Light is essential for the process of photosynthesis. Adequate lighting kickstarts the conversion of light to energy, which allows for growth. Without enough light each day, plants can’t thrive. This makes it tricky to maintain indoor plants and succulents during the winter months when the days are shorter.

Before you can decide where to put your indoor plants so they get adequate light during the winter, you need to think about the types of plants you have and how much light they need. Some varieties are more shade-tolerant than others. Too much light causes the leaves of shade-tolerant plants to burn and wither.

Place plants that love light in areas where they receive as much natural light as possible. North-facing windows are often the best spot. You may need to move indoor plants to a windowsill during the winter months so they take full advantage of daylight hours. Dust the leaves regularly to remove dirt that could hinder sunlight absorption.

An easy way to tell if your plants are getting the right amount of light is to analyse their appearance. Plants that are getting sufficient light have new growth and blooms. Those that aren’t getting enough light have small leaves and spindly growth as the plant stretches out in search of sunlight. Too much light causes burn spots on the leaves.

It may take some trial and error to figure out how to give your plants adequate light during the winter months. Pay attention to how your plants look during the cooler months and move them as necessary to increase or decrease exposure to natural light.

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

Step 3 – Winter temperature control

When cooler temperatures arrive, monitor the indoor climate for your plants. Turning up the heat to keep you and your plants warm, can sometimes cause plants especially indoor plants to struggle due to the heat, especially if it’s dry.

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.

Step 4 – Winter humidity control

The humidity level measures the amount of moisture in the air. All plants need some level of humidity to thrive, but certain varieties need less than others. It’s important to understand the humidity needs of your houseplants and succulents so you can adjust the level accordingly.

In general, plants with thicker leaves typically do best in low-humidity environments. Cacti and spider plants are two types of indoor foliage that do well with less humidity.

The average houseplant needs an environment with 60-80% humidity to thrive. Tropical plants need even higher humidity levels. Other common types of indoor plants that need a lot of humidity include: Boston ferns, ficuses, monsteras, orchids and peace lilies.

There are two effective methods for increasing the humidity level in your home. If you only have a few plants that require a high level of humidity, group them together in one room. Moisten their leaves each morning and allow them to create their own microenvironment, naturally raising the humidity level in the space. This method works best for spaces such as bathrooms.

If you don’t want to cluster several plants together, invest in a humidifier to pump moisture into the air throughout the day. Some plants develop fungal infections if they are in environments with too much humidity, so you must familiarise yourself with various signs of fungal presence in your plants.

Step 5 – Winter repotting tips

Properly caring for indoor plants in the winter starts with preparing them for the cold weather during the autumn. When plants no longer get nutrients from soil, they naturally stretch out their roots in an effort to find the vitamins they need to thrive. Indoor plants do not have the opportunity to spread their roots because they are confined to a pot. You can replace lost minerals by giving the plant fresh soil and repotting it in a larger container before winter arrives.

Using a premium potting mix designed for indoor plants is the best way to give houseplants the nutrients they need. Seasol Indoor Potting Mix is a great option, and you can compound the effects by using it with Seasol Potting Mix Booster to extend its life. Keeping the soil in great condition is the key to having healthy houseplants in the winter months.

Prepare the new soil before transferring the plant and apply Seasol to the current pot and plant to help reduce transplant shock. When you lift the plant out of the old pot, remove any debris from the roots and gently place it in the new pot before patting down the soil around the roots.

You do not have to repot your houseplants every year, but it is best not to repot plants during the winter. Prepare them before the winter hits or wait until the following year. If you choose to skip a year, simply remove any debris from the top soil and sprinkle on some nutrient-rich potting mix to enhance the existing soil.

Just keep an eye on the size of your plant and move it to a bigger container when necessary. Most plant species need a bigger pot every two years.

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

Step 6 – Feeding indoor plants in winter

Feeding your houseplants properly during winter is essential for good indoor plant care. A good plant food (fertiliser) has a balanced mix of essential nutrient and trace elements. Look for a mix of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous to give houseplants the right blend of nutrition.

Plant food comes in granular and liquid varieties. Use a granular food such as PowerFeed Controlled Release for Pots and Planters once a season. Sprinkle it on the topsoil and water it in thoroughly after application. For a liquid application, regularly apply it every two to four weeks to the potting mix soil using PowerFeed Indoor and Potted Plants trigger spray, follow the directions on the back of the pack.

Step 7 – Winter maintenance and pruning

Regular grooming is important for healthy plant growth. As the warm days of summer fade into autumn and then the frigid days of winter, plants complete the season of active growth and enter a dormant phase. Now is the perfect time to trim away dead foliage to prepare the plant for the next growing period.

As plants grow, they use a lot of energy. Every part of the plant takes energy, even the portions that are dead or dying. Pruning houseplants removes the decaying portions of them so they direct their energy to their healthy parts.

Avoid over pruning plants, as removing too much causes them to go into shock. A general rule of thumb is to remove no more than 1/4 of the total plant material. For some plant species, you need to remove more or less material, so it’s important to understand the specific needs of your indoor plants.

Focus on removing leaves with yellow and brown spots. You may also need to cut away spindly growth that causes the plant to look unhealthy. Once pruned apply Seasol Pot & Plants to the potting mix soil to give your plant a health boost. Healthy houseplants appear full and vibrant, so if you notice growth that looks leggy or spreads out the plant so it looks less full, you need to remove it to prepare your plant for the winter.

https://www.seasol.com.au/pest-problem/pests/scale-insects/
https://www.seasol.com.au/pest-problem/pests/scale-insects/

Watch out for…

One of the biggest threats to indoor plants in the winter is pests. As temperatures grow cooler, many common pests move inside in search of warmth and shelter. Houseplants make ideal environments for these insects to thrive, but if you ignore the presence of pests, they can quickly overtake your home or cause irreparable damage to your indoor plants.

Many types of pests are drawn to houseplants. Some of the most common varieties include aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale insects.

Regularly inspect all of your houseplants for any signs of an infestation. You may see larger insects easily, but spider mites are so tiny that you may only recognise white dots on the foliage as signs of an infestation. You may also notice a sticky residue on your plant if aphids have invaded it.

It’s important to take quick action when you first notice signs of a pest infestation in your houseplants. The first step is to isolate affected plants so the infestation can’t spread to other places. You can then treat affected plants with a pesticide such as EarthCare White Oil insect spray. Once you no longer see signs of pests, you can move the plant back to its original position and treat it periodically with neem oil to keep the insects from returning.