How to keep your interior spaces like a biophilic paradise throughout the cold winter months.
With late autumn and winter approaching, we're preparing ourselves for the colder weather and shorter, darker days. And we're not alone. Many of our favourite houseplants have already sensed the decreasing light levels and have begun to enter an annual dormant growing phase in preparation for surviving the winter months ahead. Keep reading to discover our tips on how to care for your houseplants during colder weather and ensure they make it through to Springtime.
Think about light levels
During the winter, light levels from windows can reduce by as much as 50% due to the sun being lower in the sky and the days being shorter. This means that houseplants that love 'bright indirect light' may need re-positioning closer to windows and skylights over the winter to ensure they receive their full quota of light in daylight hours.
The number one reason for house plants struggling to survive the winter months is over-watering. In summer we get used to feeding our houseplants every week (sometimes even more so in warm weather) and the watering routine we create for ourselves can be hard to break. The truth is that dormant houseplants need very little water. By continuing our summer feeding routines we either force plants to continue growing and produce spindly, weak shoots and leaves or, develop root rot - which is a hard state to rescue any plant from. As a rule, reduce watering your houseplants to every fortnight and for succulents every 2-3 weeks. Cacti prefer to stop being watered altogether and to resume feeds when they begin to grow again during Spring.
Try poking your finger two inches into the top soil of your favourite plant - if it's dry then it needs watering, if it's still a little moist it can be left for a longer amount of time.
Most houseplants like 40-50% relative humidity, but during winter the majority of houses offer about 5-10% due to windows being closed and central heating systems being in frequent use. Dry air can lead to your plants becoming unhealthy and unhappy, as their natural habitats would offer different living conditions.
Try lightly spritzing your houseplants (with the exception of cacti) once a week or investing in a humidifier to increase the water content in the air.
Dust can be a real nuisance for houseplants as it inhibits their ability to absorb light, to photosynthesise and grow. During winter, homes get dustier due to reduced air flow - there aren’t as many windows or doors open - so it is important to give your houseplant's leaves a gentle clean every now and again.
Try dusting leaves with a soft, damp cloth weekly to avoid a build up of dust and to increase your plant's ability to breathe.
Despite taking utmost care over your favourite plants sometimes casualties do occur. Whether it be over watering, unsuitable location or temperature fluctuations, some plants fall foul to the winter weather and find it hard to recover once unhappy. If you realise some of your favourite plants are looking a little weary it can be a good idea to prepare for the worst and take some cuttings to propagate so you won't loose them entirely.
If you have a couple of plants you are particularly fond of, but are limited for space, try taking cuttings from them and popping them in one of our Green Range planters. Nurture them over winter and watch them flourish – an easy and cost effective way of creating more plants.
A lot of plant care is trial and error. What works for one plant species probably won't work for another - it's about finding the right balance for your plants in the environment you are growing them in. Don't be disheartened if a few of your prized houseplant collection start to look unhappy during the winter months, chances are they'll bounce right back in spring and there is always scope to try again with more plants that are better suited to your living environment.