Looking after houseplants has been so good for my mental health – they’re lovely to look at, rewarding to watch thrive and grow, and are a great way to practice mindfulness.
I have the tendency to fuss over things, A LOT. Houseplants have taught me to be flexible, to adapt, to be patient, and, the hardest lesson of all, that less is more!
Here’s some top tips to keep your plants as happy as possible during the chilly months…
Switch up your watering schedule
Due to cooler temperatures and less sunlight, the majority of houseplants go dormant in winter and either grow very, very slowly or not at all. That means that your houseplants aren’t very thirsty during winter and don’t need to soak up lots of water, like they do in spring and summer. I usually triple (or quadruple for hardier plants like succulents and cacti) the time between waterings in winter.
Waiting longer between watering and watering less means that your plants won’t sit saturated and develop some nasty conditions like root rot. So:
- If the bottom of the soil is still damp, leave watering another week or so
- If your plant’s leaves are droopy and sad give it a water with lukewarm water
- DON’T give your plants fertilizer in winter – only feed them during spring and summer
Everyone wants a hug around Christmas time! Your plants shouldn’t be near a cold window in winter, instead you should huddle them close together – it keeps them warm and creates more humidity, which your plants LOVE.
If you don’t have a lot of plants, you can wrap a scarf around their pots to keep them snug. P.S it might be tempting to move your plants closer to the heater, but being too close to a radiator will dry out their leaves!
Speaking of humidity, due to some frosty mornings, you may notice your plant’s leaves getting a bit crispy and dry. To top up the humidity in your home, you can get cheap humidifiers to mist your plants a couple of times a day, or, my favorite way, give them a quick shower!
- If you have a bath/shower, you can pop your plants in the bath (with the plug out so they’re not sitting in water) and turn on the shower to give your plants much craved humidity – remember to position your plants away from the shower head so they leaves aren’t hit directly by the warm jet!
- If you only have a shower you can move one or two of your crispiest plants into the room, for the winter, to give them a good dose of steam whenever you shower.
You’ve just treated yourself to another houseplant for Christmas – you DESERVE it – but you’ve noticed that the soil is like cement and the roots are a tangled heap underneath the pot. So, what do you do? You go home, put your apron on, whip out your marigolds and get ready to give this poor plant the nutrient-dense soil it deserves!
Repotting a plant in winter is a NO-GO – plants aren’t at their most resilient in winter and like to be left alone. You have no idea how many times my best intentions haven’t saved a perfectly happy plant from the shock of being pulled out of its cosy pot!
- To keep that temptation at bay, you can water the plant with lukewarm water and massage the pot to get some movement back into the soil. Before you know it, spring will arrive and your plant will be ready for a new home. Keep those marigolds in the cupboard!
Don’t worry if you have some leafy casualties during the winter months, especially in Scotland! Just put away that watering jug, whip out some scarfs and remember, with the right TLC, houseplants aren’t just for Christmas, they’re for life!
Sophie, VS Assistant Fundraiser