Like many of nature’s creatures, your houseplants are enjoying an extended slumber during the winter season. And while you might start to notice foliage becoming sparse or dry, it’s actually plants’ way of saying: “Wake us up after Groundhog Day.” There are, however, some winter tasks for green-thumbed caretakers. Melinda Meservy, horticulturist and Thyme and Place shop owner, uses the word PAMPER to guide her wintertime houseplant care.
“You want to prune or remove anything that has been dying to allow for new growth,” Meservy says. By cutting damaged leaves and stems, your plant will efficiently conserve energy throughout the winter.
When soil becomes too packed, it begins to repel water and plants are unable to pull nutrients out of the organic matter. Meservy suggests using a chopstick to gently lift and separate soil once a month.
MIST (OR NOT)
“Not all plants like to be misted,” Meservy explains. The key is to research where your houseplant evolved and try to recreate that environment. Ferns, monsteras and pothos appreciate an extra layer of moisture while succulents prefer to be left alone during the colder winter months.
PROVIDE LESS WATER
During their winter dormancy, plants don’t need nearly as much water. Scale back your watering schedule in accordance with each plant’s moisture needs. You should also refrain from fertilizing indoor foliage. “Fertilizing a plant during the winter is like trying to force somebody to eat when they’re asleep,” says Meservy.
Etcetera involves keeping an eye out for common pests like spider mites and mealybugs that appear during the winter. “If you have pests, it usually means there has been some overwatering or there is no drainage,” she says.
You don’t have to repot your plants each year, and some species prefer to stay root-bound. But as your plants begin to wake up from hibernation, offer them new soil in a spacious pot to boost spring growth.