10 Easy Ways to Care for Your Indoor Plants During the Winter Months - No Plant No Life

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

10 Easy Ways to Care for Your Indoor Plants During the Winter Months

As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, indoor plants face a different set of challenges than they do during the warmer months. 

Winter can be a tricky time for plant enthusiasts, as the combination of dry indoor air and reduced sunlight can take a toll on even the heartiest of houseplants. 

But fear not! With the right care and attention, you can help your indoor plants thrive throughout the winter season. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about caring for your indoor plants during the winter months, from adjusting watering routines to providing adequate light and humidity. 

By the end of this article, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to keep your leafy companions healthy and happy all winter long.

1. Understand Your Plant's Needs

Before diving into the specifics of winter care, it's essential to understand that different plants have different requirements. 

Some houseplants are naturally more resilient to cold, low-light conditions, while others may need extra attention. 

Begin by identifying the types of indoor plants you have, as this will guide your care strategies.

Low-Light Plants

  • Examples: Snake Plant, ZZ Plant, Peace Lily
  • Winter Care: Low-light plants are generally more tolerant of reduced sunlight during the winter. Ensure they receive indirect light and avoid placing them in drafty areas.

High-Light Plants

  • Examples: Succulents, Ficus, Citrus Trees
  • Winter Care: These plants require more sunlight, so try to provide them with as much direct sunlight as possible. Consider using grow lights if natural light is limited.

Tropical Plants

  • Examples: Monstera, Bird of Paradise, Calathea
  • Winter Care: Tropical plants thrive in high humidity, so be prepared to increase humidity levels in your home during the dry winter months.

Cacti and Succulents

  • Examples: Echeveria, Aloe Vera, Haworthia
  • Winter Care: These plants need well-draining soil and should be watered sparingly during the winter to prevent root rot.

Understanding your plant's specific needs is the first step in providing proper care during the winter months.

2. Adjust Your Watering Routine

Winter brings drier air both indoors and outdoors, which can impact your indoor plants' watering requirements. 

Here are some tips for adjusting your watering routine during the colder months:

Reduce Watering Frequency

During winter, indoor plants generally require less water because they are not actively growing. 

The reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures slow down their metabolic processes. To prevent overwatering, check the soil moisture before watering. 

Stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep; if it feels dry, it's time to water. If it's still moist, wait a few more days before checking again.

Use Room Temperature Water

Avoid using cold water from the tap, as it can shock your plants. Allow tap water to come to room temperature or use lukewarm water when watering your plants. This helps maintain a more stable temperature for the roots.

Water in the Morning

Try to water your indoor plants in the morning, allowing any excess moisture on the soil's surface to evaporate during the day. 

This reduces the risk of fungal growth and root rot, which can be more prevalent in the winter due to the cooler temperatures.

Monitor Humidity

Low indoor humidity can cause moisture to evaporate from the soil more quickly. 

Consider using a humidity tray or a humidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels for your plants.

3. Choose the Right Pot and Soil

The choice of pot and soil can have a significant impact on your indoor plants' winter survival. Here's what you need to know:

Select the Right Pot Size

Ensure your plant's pot is appropriately sized. A pot that's too large can retain excess moisture, while one that's too small may lead to root-bound plants. 

Choose a pot that provides just enough space for your plant's roots without being too snug.

Use Well-Draining Soil

Opt for well-draining potting soil, especially for succulents and cacti. Well-draining soil helps prevent waterlogged roots, a common issue during the winter when plants take longer to absorb moisture.

Inspect for Pest Infestations

Before repotting or bringing any new plants into your home for the winter, thoroughly inspect them for pests. 

Pests can multiply quickly in the controlled environment of your home, leading to infestations that can harm your other plants.

4. Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

Indoor heating systems can create dry and arid conditions in your home during the winter, which can be challenging for many houseplants. 

To combat this, consider the following strategies to maintain adequate humidity:

Group Your Plants

Placing your plants closer together can create a microenvironment with slightly higher humidity levels. 

This natural grouping helps to create a more favorable atmosphere for your plants.

Use a Humidity Tray

A humidity tray is a shallow tray filled with water and pebbles or gravel. 

By placing your potted plants on top of the tray, the evaporating water increases humidity around the plants. 

Just ensure that the pots are not sitting directly in the water to prevent root rot.

Use a Humidifier

Investing in a humidifier is an effective way to raise the humidity levels in your home. 

You can set it to the desired humidity level, ensuring that your plants receive the moisture they need.

Mist Your Plants Sparingly

Misting can help increase humidity temporarily, but it's not a substitute for proper humidity maintenance. Over-misting can lead to fungal issues, so use this method sparingly.

5. Provide Adequate Lighting

One of the most significant challenges for indoor plants during the winter is the reduced daylight hours and lower light intensity. 

To ensure your plants get the light they need, consider the following:

Rotate Your Plants

Rotate your plants every few weeks to ensure that all sides receive adequate light. 

This prevents your plants from leaning or growing unevenly towards the light source.

Use Artificial Grow Lights

If natural light is limited, consider supplementing with artificial grow lights. 

LED grow lights are energy-efficient and provide the right spectrum of light for plant growth. 

Position the lights about 12-18 inches above your plants and leave them on for 12-16 hours a day.

Clean Your Windows

Dusty or dirty windows can reduce the amount of natural light that reaches your plants. Clean your windows to maximize the available sunlight.

6. Monitor Temperature and Drafts

Extreme temperature fluctuations and drafts can stress your indoor plants. Here's how to ensure your plants stay comfortable:

Maintain a Stable Temperature

Most indoor plants prefer temperatures between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Avoid placing your plants near drafts or heating vents, which can lead to temperature fluctuations.

Protect Against Cold Drafts

During the winter, windows and doors may allow cold drafts to seep in. Move your plants away from drafty areas or use draft stoppers to seal gaps.

7. Prune and Groom Your Plants

Regular pruning and grooming can help your indoor plants stay healthy and vibrant throughout the winter. Here's what you need to know:

Remove Dead or Yellowing Leaves

Inspect your plants regularly for dead or yellowing leaves. These leaves not only look unsightly but also take away energy that the plant could be using for healthier growth. 

Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to carefully trim these leaves at their base.

Pinch and Shape Your Plants

For bushier and more compact growth, consider pinching back the tips of your plants. 

Pinching encourages branching and can help your plants maintain an attractive shape. 

Be sure to research the specific pruning needs of your plant species, as some may require more careful pruning than others.

Check for Pests

Pest infestations can become more prevalent during the winter months due to the controlled indoor environment. 

Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests such as spider mites, aphids, or mealybugs. 

If you notice any infestations, take immediate action to eliminate them.

Reevaluate Fertilization

Most indoor plants experience reduced growth during the winter, which means they require less fertilization. 

Cut back on fertilizing frequency or use a diluted fertilizer to avoid overfeeding your plants.

8. Be Mindful of Plant Dormancy

Many indoor plants, especially those native to temperate climates, go through a period of dormancy during the winter. 

During this time, they may appear to be less vibrant and may not produce new growth. Understanding and respecting their dormancy period is crucial:

Reduced Watering

Dormant plants require even less water than usual. Be extra cautious with watering, as overwatering can lead to root rot during this period. 

Stick to the "finger test" mentioned earlier to determine when your dormant plants need water.

Limit Fertilization

As mentioned before, reduce or eliminate fertilization for dormant plants. 

Feeding them during their resting phase can disrupt their natural growth cycle.

Expect Slower Growth

Don't be alarmed if your plants seem to be growing at a snail's pace or not at all during the winter. 

This is entirely normal for many species, and growth will resume as the days lengthen and temperatures rise in the spring.

9. Quarantine New Plants

If you've acquired new plants recently, it's essential to quarantine them before placing them with your existing collection. 

New plants can carry pests or diseases that may spread to your existing plants if not detected and treated promptly.

Isolate New Additions

Place newly acquired plants in a separate room or area for at least a few weeks to monitor for any signs of pests or diseases. 

This precautionary measure can save you from potential headaches down the road.

Inspect Thoroughly

Regularly inspect new plants for any unusual spots, discolorations, or signs of pests. 

If you notice anything suspicious, take action immediately to address the issue.

Treat as Needed

If you do detect pests or diseases, treat the affected plants promptly. Isolate them further to prevent the issue from spreading and use appropriate treatments, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap.

10. Keep an Eye on Air Quality

The air quality in your home can impact your indoor plants' health, especially during the winter when windows are often closed. Here's how to maintain optimal air quality:


When weather permits, open windows and doors periodically to allow fresh air to circulate through your home. 

This helps reduce the buildup of pollutants and ensures a healthy environment for both you and your plants.

Dust Removal

Regularly dust your plants' leaves to prevent dust from clogging their stomata, the small openings on the leaves through which they breathe. 

Dust-free leaves can absorb more light and exchange gases more efficiently.

Air Purifiers

Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to remove airborne pollutants and improve air quality. Cleaner air benefits both you and your indoor plants.

​Final Thoughts 

Caring for indoor plants during the winter may require some adjustments to your usual routine, but with the right knowledge and attention, you can help your plants thrive through the colder months. 

Remember that each plant is unique, so understanding their specific needs is crucial. 

Adjust your watering, lighting, and humidity levels accordingly, and don't forget to monitor for pests and diseases regularly.

By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you'll be well-equipped to provide the best possible care for your indoor plants during the winter season. 

As a result, you'll enjoy healthy, lush greenery and a touch of nature's beauty indoors, even when it's cold and snowy outside. Happy winter gardening!


Do indoor plants need less water during the winter?

Yes, indoor plants generally require less water during the winter. Reduced sunlight and lower temperatures slow down their growth, so they don't need as much moisture. Always check the soil moisture before watering and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Can I place my indoor plants near a heater to keep them warm during the winter?

It's best to avoid placing your plants directly near a heater. The hot, dry air can lead to moisture loss from the soil and stress your plants. Maintain a stable temperature and protect them from drafts instead.

Should I fertilize my indoor plants in the winter?

Indoor plants typically require less fertilizer during the winter when their growth slows down. You can reduce the frequency of fertilization or use a diluted fertilizer to avoid overfeeding.

What's the ideal humidity level for indoor plants in the winter?

Most indoor plants thrive in humidity levels between 40% and 60%. You may need to increase humidity levels during the dry winter months using humidity trays, grouping plants together, or using a humidifier.

Can I use tap water for my indoor plants during the winter?

While tap water is generally fine for indoor plants, it's a good practice to allow it to reach room temperature before using it in the winter. Cold water can shock the plant's roots.

Should I repot my indoor plants in the winter?

It's generally best to avoid repotting indoor plants during the winter unless it's absolutely necessary. Transplanting can stress plants, and they may not recover as well in the colder months.

Is it okay to use artificial grow lights for indoor plants during the winter?

Yes, artificial grow lights are an excellent option for supplementing the reduced natural light during the winter. LED grow lights, in particular, provide the necessary spectrum of light for plant growth.

What should I do if I notice pests on my indoor plants in the winter?

If you notice pests on your indoor plants, take action immediately. Isolate the affected plants to prevent the infestation from spreading, and use appropriate treatments like neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Can I place my indoor plants outside on warmer winter days?

You can move your indoor plants outdoors on mild winter days, but be cautious of sudden temperature drops or frost. Gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions to prevent shock.

Why do some indoor plants go dormant in the winter, and how do I care for them during this time?

Some indoor plants, especially those native to temperate regions, go dormant in response to reduced daylight and lower temperatures. During dormancy, water sparingly, limits fertilization, and expect slower growth. Resume regular care when they come out of dormancy in the spring.

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