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How to get your houseplants through the winter

From watering needs to ideal temperatures, here's what to know to help your indoor plants survive the cooler months.

Just because our plant friends live inside with us doesn't mean that they have forgotten what it is to be a plant. While they may not react to the seasons as dramatically as do their cousins outside, they still feel the changes. So if you are freaking out about what may seem like an unhappy plant right now, fret not!

Even houseplants go dormant in the winter. “This is totally normal and actually crucial to their survival,” says Bloomscape's “Plant Mom” (AKA Joyce Mast, AKA our favorite houseplant expert). “You can expect a decline in growth and even leaf drop off,” she adds.

I have had some questions about winter houseplant care; thankfully, Plant Mom has come to the rescue. Here are four important things to remember for getting your green babies to spring.

Water less frequently

Since plants are considerably less active during the winter months, they do not need as much water. And as you may know, overwatering is one of the most common causes of sadness (uhm, death) for indoor plants. Plant Mom explains that plants are especially vulnerable to root rot from overwatering in the winter. She says, “This doesn’t mean completely ignoring them, but only water when the soil is dry (test this by putting your finger into the soil about 2 inches down).”

Watch the humidity

Given that many houseplants were originally designed to thrive in humid environments, most of them are sensitive to dry air. In winter, with heaters and fireplaces a-blazing, a lack of humidity can be a problem. Joyce recommends increasing humidity by grouping plants together to create a microclimate (plants naturally transpire by expelling water from their leaves) or use a humidifier near them. (See: The benefits of grouping houseplants together for more.) You can also create an oasis in your bathroom, since that tends to be one of the more humid places in a house. (See: 8 ‘shower plants' that want to live in your bathroom for more.)

Keep a steady temperature

While houseplants may love the windowsill for its light, they do not love the windowsill for its drafts and frigid panes. Likewise, they don't love being near heat sources like heating ducts, radiators, and fireplaces. In a perfect houseplant world, day temperatures should range from 65 to 75 degrees and drop to no lower than 50 degrees at night.

Dust and tidy-up regularly

I used to think that insect problems would be more prominent in insect-y seasons, like summer. But as it turns out, houseplans are more vulnerable to insects in the winter because they go into that state of dormancy. “Insects love to hide out in the dust on the leaves of your plant,” explains Joyce, “so make sure you’re wiping the leaves regularly with a damp cloth and removing any dead or yellowing leaves with a pair of clean, sharp scissors.”

If you have specific questions, you can head to Bloomscape and ask Plant Mom for advice – she knows everything! And for much more on houseplants, see related stories below.

From watering needs to ideal temperatures, here's what to know to help your indoor plants survive the cooler months.