With the holiday season over and southern Ontario in its not-so-cold start of winter, what better time to talk about how you can keep your indoor plants alive when the temperature finally decides to drop?
Even though southern Ontario doesn’t see the same extreme negative double digits as the North does, it doesn’t take much to shock a houseplant that is used to its cozy interior.
From avoiding cold water-watering to keeping some healthy distance from windows, here are several things you can do to ensure your plants see the sun in spring.
Don’t repot: On a lazy Saturday afternoon I sometimes get the urge to dead-head or trim up some of my plants. After that, I take a look at the size of the plant and ask myself if I should up-size it to a larger pot. In the summer or early spring, it is a great idea. At the beginning or middle of winter, it could mean a quick death for any houseplant. Canadian Living says plants need to be root-bound in a smaller container so water travels through quickly and does not sit in the pot. Think about your plant’s roots like your hair. In the summer, hair dries quickly due to the humidity and heat. The same is true for roots. Since things do not dry as quickly in winter, your plants are more likely to rot with more space available in the pot.
Don’t use cold water: Taking a cold shower is great for your skin and pores but most people are not excited to take one. If a cold shower on a chilly winter morning doesn’t excite you, why do it to your plants? Most plant experts suggest giving your plants a thorough watering with warm water.
Water less often: All houseplants need less water in the winter. If you’ve learned one thing in the last few months of reading this regular column I hope it’s how dangerous overwatering your pants can be. If overwatering is bad in the hot summer, it is even worse in the winter. Cut the frequency of your watering in half, or better yet, check the soil before you water and only do so if the soil is completely dry.
Get dusting: No surprise. Plants need light. And in the winter there is a lot less of it. To make sure your houseplants can photosynthesize their way into summer, wipe your plant’s leaves down with a damp cloth every few weeks. Dust builds up on the leaves and can block more sunlight than you would imagine.
Keep your distance: refinery29 says it’s a bad idea to keep your plants close to a window on a cold night or during the winter. “It’s safe to say that you should take your plants away from the window on an extremely cold night, and return them to the sill when that warm sun rises in the morning. This is mainly to avoid cold damage to the leaves and potential shock to the root,” says the site. If there is nowhere else to keep your plants, or if the window sill is the only place your plants can get sun in the morning, try keeping your drapes or blinds closed tight overnight to create an extra layer of insulation between your plants and windows.