Keeping happy, healthy houseplants in winter

It's July already! The days are darker and cooler which means our plants need a little more help to keep them happy until Spring has sprung. As with all seasonal changes, there's some small but important things you can do to make sure your houseplants thrive through these cold months.

So, we're sharing plant expert Anna Macoboy top five tips for houseplant happiness through winter.

1. Check your plant positioning

Winter means shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures, so there's less light intensity. This may mean it's time to move your houseplants into their winter positions.

If plants are already near bright windows and are still receiving adequate light, they can stay put. Plants surviving in those unheated, southern-facing rooms with small or few windows will benefit from a move to a lighter, warmer spot.

2. Avoid leaf burn

Be careful with your winter positions though! During this season the sun is lower and will come through windows or onto your balconies and porches at a different angle. Plants that previously received no direct sun may risk getting burnt from the lower winter sun, so keep an eye on the light!

When placing your plants near windows be careful to watch the direct sunlight on your plants' leaves and move accordingly.

3. Switch up your watering

Watering needs for plants at any time of year will depend on the microclimate in which the plant is growing. If the plant is to remain in a cool spot through winter with medium to low light, keeping the plant drier will help it fare better.

Remember plants use water as part of photosynthesis; if there is less light then the plant will use less water and if it’s cool, the moisture in the soil will not evaporate as readily.

For those who have bright, heated homes, you may be watering more than usual. Heating can dry the air in homes and the soil will become dry through both evaporation and via the plant using up moisture.

For mezzanines, attics and ‘upstairs’ these positions can become very warm. Follow the golden rules; watch your plant, feel the soil, lift the pot and water the soil, not the plant. 

4. Wait for the warmth 

Winter is a period of dormancy for most indoor plants. If you're planning to cultivate cuttings you should try to wait until spring when the air is warm and we are coming out of our own hibernation.

The same goes for fertiliser — if your plant is growing in a cold room where temperatures hover at 14 degrees celcius or lower, wait until the weather warms up before feeding. If your plant is in a warmish spot and is putting out new growth, by all means, you can show it some love and fertilise. Be careful at this time not to give your plants a more concentrated dose than recommended on the bottle. 

Seasol is a great winter alternative as it is a tonic that can be applied all year round. Always follow the manufacturers dilution rates or halve them for delicate plants like ferns. 

5. Move plants away from heat sources

Plants like to be cosy, but not as much as we do.If you have a pot belly fireplace, reverse-cycle AC or gas heater, make sure to move your plants well away from the output of warm air. If in doubt, test with yourself – stand near your heater and move slowly away from it. The point where you feel comfortable without a strong, dry warmth is the closest spot where to position your plant.

For more plant tips visit our dedicated care feed here.
Photos by Rae Fallon for Baileys Fertiliser.

June 29, 2023 — Shannon Palmer