How to Keep Your Houseplants Alive This Winter
Avoid committing plant-icide as you move outdoor plants inside with these tips from expert Justin Hancock.
It’s that time of the year. Temperatures are dropping and it’s time to start contemplating transitioning those houseplants that have been basking in the lovely warm temps outdoors inside for the winter.
So what should you do to make sure your little darlings make the transition from outside to inside successfully and thrive in their new berth in your dining room/bedroom/living room/kitchen?
Plant expert and horticulturalist Justin Hancock, is a longtime plant lover. “I’m the odd kid who in kindergarten I knew that plants were the field that I wanted to go into. All my classmates wanted to be astronauts and firemen!” A former gardening journalist, horticulturalist Hancock now works at Miami's Costa Farms and with Exotic Angel houseplants. He shared some of his expert tips with Made+Remade on making sure your houseplants survive in the very different indoor environment.
Juston Hancock's Tips:
Set the Bar Low
Easy-care plants like pothos, ZZ plant, Chinese evergreen, ponytail palm and snake plant are all relatively low-maintenance if things like watering and maintenance are not your strong suit.
Give Your Plants a Shower
If you are going on vacation, put all of your plants in the shower and water them well. The humid environment should help them thrive even while you are out of town.
Guard Against Low Humidity
If you see brown tips on your plants, low humidity is the likely culprit says Hancock. Group your plants together to help them share the moisture they release naturally; place a small humidifier near your plants or place plants on a tray of pebbles and water.
Hold the Fertilizer
Plant growth slows down during winter, so you don’t need to fertilize during the winter. “I start fertilizer once the days start to get noticeably longer, usually in March,” says Hancock.
Keep ‘Em Hydrated
Check to see if your plants need watering by sticking your finger into the soil. If it’s dry, it is time to water.
Make sure even your indoor houseplant containers have drainage holes. It is a myth, says Hancock, that they don’t need them.
"The thing about light that people don’t realize is it scales up but it doesn’t scale down. So if you have a low-light plant, you can grow it in low, medium or bright light, but the bright light plants you can’t scale down with," says Hancock, so keeping them in any light less than bright is a mistake.
Steer Clear of Drafts
Hot and cold air or heat vents are a concern so be careful where you place your plants, says Hancock.
Check for Hitchhikers
Make sure you look over your plants for any pest issues before bringing them inside, advises Hancock. “Some people do a preventative spray. Insecticidal soaps are a nice low-impact form of doing that,” says Hancock. “What I would do is put my plants in the shower, put a plastic bag over the soil so they don’t get too messy and then give them a good wash down.”
Pretty Plants Are Healthy Plants
Dust your plants, advises Hancock. “Once a month is usually fine,” says Hancock. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that dust is a filter, so it’s actually reducing the amount of light your plants are getting.”