With winter right around the corner again it’s time to start moving gardens indoors. For those who are already indoors, it’s important to keep in mind the effects the winter season can have on your plants.
While having your garden indoors does mitigate a lot of what prevents you from successfully growing during the winter, there are still many things to keep in mind. In fact, many gardeners say winter is the easiest time to kill your indoor plant, and I have to agree!
Today we’ll look at some of the items to keep in mind to ensure optimal conditions during the winter months. These will help you keep your gardening thriving even as the temperature begins to drop outdoors.
If you’re looking for tips on moving an outdoor garden indoors check out our tips on that here!
Note: A lot of these tips are mainly applicable to areas that have very defined seasons and harsh winters such as the Midwest. If you live in a tropical region some of these might not apply to you. In more temperate regions, you might have a smaller window where winter weather has adverse effects on your plants.
Watch The Lighting
One of the big things to keep in mind is the lower levels of sunlight during the winter. This is both in that days are typically shorter as well as having less intense light during the day. In some places, this can be as drastic as a 50% reduction in light. This means that in many cases what might be a good spot for a plant in the summer can end up not having enough light as the weather changes.
For many plants, fixing this involves moving them to a brighter window, or closer to the window in order to maximize light. Also, making sure the windows are clean and plants free of any sort of dust helps to maximize light absorption. The key thing to keep in mind is your plant’s lighting needs versus the amount of sunlight it’s getting as the days get shorter.
For plants that need many hours of direct sunlight, like some fruits or veggies, supplementing with a grow light is often necessary. A couple of grow lights can be bought for the winter months fairly cheaply and will work in most cases. Position them 6-12 inches away from the plant, and run them to meet your plant’s lighting needs keeping in mind that you should run the grow lights a little longer than your plant’s natural light needs.
Mind The Water
Many plants go slightly dormant in the winter and will require water less often. Many a plant has been killed by overwatering, so be careful how much water you give to your plants, especially in the cooler months. Always check the soil to determine when to water and be prepared to water less in the winter.
To start, the humidity of the room your plants are in will contribute to optimal watering. Humidity levels are generally lower in the winter, which means the air around your plants is drier. If this is the case you may want to check on soil moisture more often. On the flip side, if you’re using a humidifier the reverse is true.
In the winter, for most plants, you can wait until the soil is dried out before watering. Stick a finger into the soil about 2 inches to test for dryness. There are exceptions to this, however, so always do a bit of research on your specific plants first.
Humidity and Temperature & Changes
As mentioned above, humidity levels are generally lower in the winter. In many cases, this can drop below what most plants would consider ideal. If that’s the case, the best ways to help your plants are to either humidify the room or take some time each day to lightly spray the leaves with water. Look out for yellowing leaf tips as a sign of low humidity stress on a plant. You can also check out our article with more humidity-boosting tips.
As for temperature, homes are usually kept in a healthy range for plants. Plants generally like 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and around 5-10 degrees colder at night, which fits with most homes.
The danger for many homes though is drafts and large temperature variances. For example, having a house plant near a drafty window or in the path of a heating vent can cause damage to the plant. Make sure the plant is exposed to even temperatures, and that changes are gradual to prevent stunted growth in your plant.
As mentioned above, many plants will go dormant and slow their growth during the winter months. This is completely natural and is part of how plants are able to survive the winter in nature. If you’re noticing your plant’s growth has slowed in the winter, and you’re keeping up with care, then there is no cause for alarm.
The one thing to keep in mind though is that, during this time, you may need to actually provide less care. In general, you’ll need to water your plant less and not fertilize it at all during the winter. Too much care can lead to issues like overwatering or burning out with fertilizer which can end up harming instead of helping your plant.
Winter Garden Care
While there’s nothing too complicated or difficult to do, it’s extremely important to keep these things in mind during the winter. Nothing is more disappointing than having your plants die over the winter and having to start over in the summer. Keep the above points in mind, and you’ll have beautiful, healthy plants all winter long!