Winter plants with snow

How to Keep Plants Alive in Fall & Winter

The fall and winter months in St. Louis mean chilly weather, cozy blankets, mugs of hot cocoa, and warm fires. While people may enjoy the crisp, cold air, the lower temperatures and shorter days make it difficult for plants to thrive. So how do you help your indoor plants stay alive in the fall and winter? Here are some tips!

How to keep plants alive in fall & winter:

  • Keep your plants warm
  • Reduce your watering
  • Increase your home's humidity
  • Clean your plants
  • Give them plenty of light

Keep Your Plants Warm

Many plants are extremely sensitive to cold air. The #1 step to helping your indoor plants survive the cooler months is to make sure they are protected from the cold air. You can partly solve this by sealing up your windows and insulating the doors of your home. Also, if you keep plants next to outside doors or leaky windowsills during the warmer months, make sure you move them to other rooms where they won’t get shocked by the cold air.

You also want to make sure you keep plants away from sources of heat, like fireplaces, radiators, and even heating vents. Blasts of hot air can be just as bad for your plant as blasts of cold air. Keep your plants at a steady temperature between 65-75 degrees F during the day and above 50 degrees F at night for the best plant living conditions.

Reduce Your Watering

Even though they are inside, the majority of houseplants go dormant in the fall and winter months. When they are dormant, they don’t need as much water (or fertilizer). Follow standard watering advice, and only water if the soil is dry an inch or two below the surface. You want to make sure your plants don’t stay sitting in water because that can lead to root rot, fungus, mold, and a host of other issues. If you see yellow leaves or moldy soil, then you’ll know you need to reduce your watering frequency.

Increase Your Home's Humidity

Low humidity in the cold months isn’t just a problem for people-it’s a problem for plants, too. Plants enjoy humidity levels around 50%, so keep your humidifier running if you have one. If you don’t, try clustering your plants together in the most humid rooms of your home (typically the bathrooms or kitchen) or placing them on top of a large tray or baking sheet filled with water. (You just have to make sure the pots don’t touch the water, so place some stones in the water and put the plants on top.)

Clean Your Plants

Sun is in short supply in the winter. To make sure they can take full advantage of the little light they have, make sure your indoor plants’ leaves stay clean and dust-free, Every couple of weeks, put your plants in the bathtub and use a handheld sprayer to give the leaves a gentle shower or use a damp towel to wipe dust and grime off the leaves. Keeping the leaves clean means they can be more efficient at photosynthesis.

Give Them Plenty of Light

Plants need light more than anything else in the fall and winter. You will need to be extra careful to rotate your pots to make sure each plant is getting the sunlight they need. If the available natural sunlight isn’t enough, use a full-spectrum lightbulb in a standard desk lamp and shine it on your plants for a least 12-14 hours a day.

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