Top 5 Winter Houseplant Care Tips


I think you would heartily agree with me that our houseplants give us a big lift during the bleak winter months.  Especially during a pandemic!  Winter is the perfect time to take a close look at our tropicals and give them the attention and care that is a bit lacking in spring and summer.  I certainly know that is the case at my house!  Here are my Top Five Tips to keeping your houseplants happy during the winter.

Put your tropical plants in a warm shower ...

...To clean the dust off the leaves and give them a boost of humidity.  If the top of the soil is not covered, a shower can do double duty by leaching the soil of salt buildup as well. If this does not appeal to you and the plant is large, put the pot in a large plastic bag and tie it in close to the base where the stems meet the soil.  Leave the plant(s) to dry naturally in the shower.  Do not rinse off plants with hairy leaves such as African violets.  They can be gently dusted with a very soft paint brush.


Use this time to clean your plants and check for bugs. 

You can also wipe the leaves down with a clean cloth and warm water only.  Do not use leaf shine products or mayo as they can block the stomata of the plant leaf.   Stomata are the tiny breathing holes found primarily on the underside of leaves and on some plant stems.   Trim off any dead leaves hiding amongst the healthy leaves or on the soil.  If the soil level is down, top it up with some new tropical soil.

Do not overwater in winter. 

Plants are not actively growing in winter as they do in spring and summer.  They have lower water needs.   If the plant is not using the water provided it may develop root rot. 


Provide extra humidity...

...In your home by using a humidifier, pebble trays under the plant pots or mist the leaves with distilled or bottled water. 



There are varying opinions on this topic.  I used to be totally on the side of not fertilizing at all during the winter.  This is fine for plants that were transplanted the previous summer as the new soil will have a small amount of fertilizer in it to carry the plant over for 3 months or so.  If you are like me, you have a lot of plants that have been in the same pot for a long time.  Actively growing or not, they probably used up the nutrient in that soil a long time ago.  I now fertilize these plants once a month at one third or one quarter the recommended rate. Once the plants start actively growing again in spring you can transplant them into a size larger pot and begin full strength fertilization about three weeks after transplant. 

 Boston Ferns love a shower!

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