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11 Tips to Keep Houseplants Happy All Winter

If your houseplants are yellowing or dropping leaves, they're trying to tell you something and it could have something to do with the cold weather. Here are 11 tips to keep your houseplants happy all winter.

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watering plant

Water Less

Indoor plants need less water during the winter months. It’s time to water when the soil is dry an inch or 2 below the surface. It’s best to use water that is air temperature so the plant’s roots are not shocked from the temperature of cold water. Some drought-tolerant plants such as succulents may not need water at all during the winter. Find out how often you need to water your house plants.

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Woman adjusting thermostat.

Indoor Temperature

Houseplants do best when the temperature in your home is steady, between 60 to 70 degrees F. Keep plants away from drafts near windows and doors, and heat near fireplaces and radiators.

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Plants near window.

Let There Be Light

Most plants thrive in sunlight, and since there is less sunlight during the colder months, plant relocation may be necessary. Try placing plants in a spot near a south- or west-facing window (as long as there’s no cold draft coming in) to get the most sunlight possible.

Photo: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

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Plant fertilizer.

Put Plants on a Diet

Since your houseplants don’t grow nearly as much during the winter, they don’t need much when it comes to food. Once spring comes and you start to see new growth, resume your regular fertilizing routine.

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Wait on Transplanting

No matter how pretty that new pot is, hold off on transplanting your houseplant until the spring. Winter is a great time to let plants rest.

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Dusting Plant Leaves.

Watch for Dust Buildup

Since your home is closed up during the winter, keep an eye out for dust buildup on your plant’s leaves. Dust buildup makes it difficult for the plant to absorb nutrients. To clean the dust, just use a damp cloth and lightly wipe off the leaves.

Photo: Zabavna/Shutterstock

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Trimming Plant.

Trim Minimally

Plants need pruning to stay healthy, but hold off on heavy trimming until the spring. Instead, if your plant needs a little help, gently pinch off any soft stems with your fingers.

Photo: Stanislav71/Shutterstock

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Bamboo plant in light.

Consider Artificial Light

If your home doesn’t get much sunlight, consider using artificial light. Plants need blue light waves to grow, so check with plant and garden stores to make sure you’re getting the right kind of artificial light.

Photo: Michael Mong/Shutterstock

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Bug on plant.

Beware of Bugs

Even your indoor plants can become susceptible to insects. Watch for scale insects (look for tiny tan dots), whiteflies (which fly off when plants are moved), mealybugs (look like pieces of cotton) and aphids (clusters of red, black or green on new plant growth). Treat any infestations with a gentle, non-toxic insecticide from your local garden center.

Photo: Patri6a/Shutterstock

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Woman outside with plants.

Transition Slowly

Once spring arrives, if you plan on moving a houseplant outdoors, do it carefully. Make sure the possibility of frost has passed. Overnight temperatures should also be above 45 degrees F before houseplants are moved outdoors.

Photo: Hannamariah/Shutterstock

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.