Winter of Discontent for Many Indoor Plants

Most of our indoor plants are tropical in origin.  During the winter, they, like our outdoor plants, take a break and rest.  It’s a form of dormancy. We can thank the short days and lack of sunlight intensity for this. Because indoor plants are essentially resting, it is important to treat them accordingly. This begins by adjusting their care.


They are not growing and using the same amount of water – be careful to not over-water. All you need to do is to keep the soil moist. For cacti and succulents, let the soil dry before watering. Root rots are always a concern with over-watered plants. Heavy soaking or letting plants sit in water-filled overflow containers could be fatal.

The best choice for water is rain water or melted snow at room temperature. This will slow the buildup of soluble salts from tap water.

Light and warmth

It may be necessary to reevaluate where the plants are placed. Keep in mind that plants that are close to a heat vent or hanging high in the room may actually be drying out faster because of the dry heat. On the other hand, having plants receiving a blast of cold air when a door is opened can be damaging to them. 


During the late fall and winter months, there is no need to fertilize. Plants are not growing and will not utilize it. Wait for the plant to initiate new growth in March or April before fertilizing. Then, you may want to do it at a reduced rate.


Even though the plants are not growing, there may be insects or mites enjoying a quiet, windowsill meal. Winter is not the time to stop monitoring for problems. Look carefully at leaves, stems and the top half inch of soil for any one of several pests and treat to get rid of them if they are present.

If your plants have received adequate care over the winter, when spring arrives and the days lengthen, you will be rewarded with new growth.

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