14 Tips for Caring for Houseplants Through Winter

Updated: Mar. 12, 2024

Even indoor plants can sometimes have a tough time surviving the winter. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to help your houseplants make it through the winter in the best of health: Here's what to keep in mind.

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Cut Down on Water
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Cut Down on Water

Almost all houseplants go into hibernation mode over the winter, which means they don’t need as much water. And if you keep watering them at summer rates, they could develop rot or diseases. So only lightly, and when in doubt, check to see if the soil is moist about an inch below the surface. The exceptions to this are citrus species, which tend to do better with higher moisture soil. Did you know that these 8 easy-care plants will help improve your home’s air quality?
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Avoid or Dilute Fertilizer
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Avoid or Dilute Fertilizer

Similar to water, you don’t want to over-fertilize your houseplants in the winter. And if your plants are healthy, skip fertilizing altogether. If you think they need some fertilizer, dilute it by at least 50 percent before applying, preferably in the fall to care for winter indoor plants.

Editor’s Tip: Plants can help you set up the right environment for your home. Try these last chores of the season that will set up your lawn and garden for optimal success when the warmth of spring returns. Here’s how to winterize a yard.

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Don't Repot Until Spring, if Possible
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Don’t Repot Until Spring, if Possible

Repotting is very tough on plants, and they will need all their strength in the winter. So hold off on repotting window plants until spring. By the way, here are the top 10 herbs for your kitchen garden.
Do you know that with good light and smaller varieties, you can successfully create an indoor vegetable garden and some fruits after you’ve put your outdoor garden to bed?
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Remember to Clean the Leaves
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Remember to Clean the Leaves

In winter, homes tend to be closed up and more dust is often spread through the air. Dusty leaves are bad news, as they encourage disease and prevent houseplants from absorbing sunlight. Lightly brush dust off the leaves of your plants every month or so, it’s the best way of how to take care of indoor plants. Here are 10 tasks you probably forgot to add to your spring cleaning list.
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Build an Indoor Window Box for Maximum Sunlight
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Build an Indoor Window Box for Maximum Sunlight

If you want to create a collection of useful herbs or uplifting flowers for winter, create your own window box to display them and give them plenty of light. And choose hardy species, and you can move the window box outside in the spring! It’s one of the ways of how to care for houseplants. Take a look at these charming indoor planters.
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Wash and Trim Plants Before Bringing Them In
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Wash and Trim Plants Before Bringing Them In

It’s common to bring beloved potted plants in for the winter, but they need your attention first. Wash the plants gently and trim them up before bringing them inside.

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Avoid Drafts and Breezes
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Avoid Drafts and Breezes

Caring for houseplants means putting them by the window to help them get enough light, but you don’t want any drafts or breezes to chill them. But don’t crack open windows near plants, and make sure your window insulation is in good repair. Keep yourself cozy this winter with these warm dessert recipes.
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Use a Humidifier
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Use a Humidifier

A humidifier can add a little more moisture in dry winter air, and may help keep more delicate plant leaves from browning out. If you don’t already have a humidifier, you can turn this kitchen gadget instead.
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Watch Out for Pests
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Watch Out for Pests

Winter pests are problematic for window plants. And if they find your plants, they can easily spread throughout the house and do a lot of damage. Keep houseplants clean, watch for pests like mites, and if you spot a problem, isolate the plant and treat it immediately. Here’s how you can get rid of pantry pests.
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Add Extra Water for Vacations
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Add Extra Water for Vacations

If you are going on vacation for a while (two weeks or more), it’s all right to break the low water rule and give your houseplants an extra soaking so they will stay healthy. Take a look at the 36 recipes we brought back from vacation.
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Avoid Too Much Heat
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Avoid Too Much Heat

While many homeowners worry about plants freezing in winter, not everyone remembers to be careful of the heat. Avoid putting plants by heaters or fireplaces where they may dry out. Use a plant stand instead.
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Move Plants Away From Windows on Freezing Nights
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Move Plants Away From Windows on Freezing Nights

The air near windows can grow very cold when the temperature outside drops at night. Move houseplants off the windowsill if it looks like it will freeze. Some people leave the plants in place and cover them with newspaper, but moving them is often easier.

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Have a Lot of Plants to Bring Indoors? Build a Sunroom
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Have a Lot of Plants to Bring Indoors? Build a Sunroom

If you are proud of all your patio and deck plants and want to bring in as many as possible (especially those with large pots), consider expanding into a full sunroom or enclosed porch. Then you can guarantee temperature control and ensure the plants get plenty of light. Here are some super cute crafts to make on sunny days.
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For Short Days, Consider a Grow Light
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For Short Days, Consider a Grow Light

If the days are particularly short and dark in your area, consider purchasing an LED grow light to provide your houseplants with extra energy. And keep in mind that the color of the light affects how the plants will grow. Next, read about the 10 secret ingredients that can help your garden grow.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman