Houseplant care during autumn and winter
As the daylight hours shorten in autumn and winter the care that we give to our houseplants should also change. Here are our tried and tested tips for caring for your plants during the cooler, darker months.
1. Reduce Frequency of Watering
During autumn and winter our plants receive less light, this means their rate of growth slows down, this in turn means they will be needing less water. Root rot from overwatering is a very common killer, so instead of sticking to a strict watering schedule we always recommend sticking your finger into the soil first to see whether you need to water.
Reading your plant's cues as to when it needs watering is also a good habit to get into, perhaps the leaves are starting to curl, or the plant is looking a little limp, or some leaves are yellowing.
The majority of houseplants are happy to have their soil pretty much dry before watering, others like Ferns, Calathea and Maranta don’t like to dry out between waterings and will want to be kept slightly damp. Remember to err on the side of caution when it comes to watering, especially in winter, an under-watered plant is much easier to revive than an overwatered plant. We would always give a large drink of water infrequently rather than small amounts of water frequently. Drought tolerant plants like succulents and cacti can be left pretty much alone over autumn and winter, only water succulents when the soil feels completely dry in winter and cacti won't need to be watered at all until spring.
2. Make the most of the light
As the light is weaker during autumn and winter and the daylight hours are shorter, it is a good idea to give your plants as much exposure to the light as possible. You can bring plants closer to windows (watch out for cold draughts though!)
If plants have been near to a south-facing window with a filtering blind, now's the time to raise that blind and make the most of the weaker light.
Rotate your plants regularly, once a week for example so that all sides of the plant receive an even amount of light, this will help them to grow evenly on all sides producing attractive shaped plants.
Dusting the leaves of your plants will ensure they are able to photosynthesise efficiently, plus it's also a great way of keeping pests as bay. Simply wipe the leaves with a clean damp cloth or even better with horticultural soap.
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3. Avoid fluctuating temperatures
Be mindful that plants won't like to be near to heaters or cold draughts during winter, so you may need to move them if this is the case.
If you have a consitently warm, centrally heated house in winter you might find that your plants need a little extra humidity to stop leaf tips from browning and going crispy. You could bring plants into a bathroom making the most of the humid environment when the shower is in use. Grouping plants together can always be helpful as the group plants transpire this will raise the humidity slightly around the plants.