Check all house plants closely for insect infestations. Quarantine gift plants until you determine that they are not harboring any pests. Remove insects by hand, wash with sink sprayer, or apply an insecticidal soap or Neem Oil. Common pests in winter like spider mites and thrips may be difficult to see. Look for webbing. Spider mites are as big as a period. Thrips are the size of a comma.
Turn and prune house plants regularly to keep them shapely. Pinch back new growth to promote bushy plants.
During the winter most houses are too dry for houseplants. A humidifier is the best option. If this isn’t a possibility here are some other options:
Cluster your plants together. They will share each other’s water they release from their leaves.
Keep them in your bathroom or kitchen where showers and cooking tend to create a more humid atmosphere. If you have one, position them near a fish tank.
Humidity may be increased by placing plants on trays lined with pebbles and filled with water to within one half inch of the base of the pots. Be sure bottom of pots are not sitting directly in water. This will promote root rot.
If you heat with wood, keep a pot of water on the stove. The added moisture will be healthier for you as well as your plants.
Misting may seem like an easy answer, but is only a temporary fix.
To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
Water less in the winter months. This may seem counter-productive. Air is dryer in the winter months, however plants tend to slow their growing or even go dormant, so need less water. The surface of your plants will dry more quickly. That is not necessarily a sign of water needs. Push your finger an inch or two below the surface. If it still feels dry that deep it’s time to water. Do not shock your plants with cold water. Be sure it is at room temperature. It’s easier to overwater in winter as water in soil evaporates more slowly.
Keep your plants away from drafts as well as radiators, fire places and heating vents.
Follow the sun! As the days get shorter and the sun gets lower you may need to re-locate some of your plants. Grow lights are a great tool for supplementing natural light. There are apps that can help you show the path of the sun throughout the day. ‘Skyguide’ for Apple and ‘Starwalk’ for Androids.
Lay off the fertilizer. Because plants slow their growth in winter they need little if any fertilizer. Once you see new growth or existing leaves start getting greener, restart your fertilizing regime. The exception is some tropicals such as citrus. Winter is their peak growing time.
Leaf loss is normal in winter and is to be expected as many plants are not actively growing.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you lose a plant! We have all been there.
If you have any questions or concerns we are more than happy to help! Stop by our potting shed. Bring well lit pictures of the plant you have concerns with. Be sure and get the undersides of leaves as well as where the leaves meet the stem. Leaf cuttings are helpful as well to make a diagnosis.