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How to keep indoor plants alive during winter

Winter can be harsh on indoor plants as much as it is on outdoor plants

By Sacha Van Niekerk | May 4, 2020 | Gardens

It’s getting chillier by the day as winter gradually draws closer.

With these months comes less hours of sunlight, drier, colder weather and more wind. As humans, we’re lucky enough to be able to throw on an extra layer or two when things get a little frosty, unfortunately for houseplants they can’t do the same. They rely on our care to help them thrive all year round as their needs change with the different seasons

Here’s how to care for your indoor plants during the winter months:

Don’t over-water

Despite the fact that air may be drier, plants actually need less water during winter because they experience a decline in their growth rate. To test if your plant needs watering, poke one finger through the surface level of soil to test for moistness. If it’s dry more than 3cm below the surface, that’s when they’ll need watering. If it’s saturated with water, you may be over-watering your plant. This can cause your roots to rot as they become starved of oxygen 

that gets cut off from the flooding of water. 

Protect them from your pets

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In the colder months our beloved pets may be spending more time cooped up indoors harbouring all their energy and looking to stir up some mischief. From knocking over plants to ripping leaves and digging out potted soil, they can wreak havoc on indoor plants. Try keep you plants on a level they cannot reach or 

Clean your plants leaves

A clean plant that’s photosynthesizing at optimal levels will be a healthier plant and healthy plants don’t get diseases and pest infestations. This layer of dirt blocks sunlight and reduces the plant's ability to photosynthesize.

If your houseplant has broad leaves, use a damp cloth to carefully wipe the dust that collects on the surface. For plants with velvety leaves, like African violets, gently remove dust using a soft-bristle paint brush or soft toothbrush using gentle pressure.

Look for the light

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Your indoor spaces may not be getting as much sunlight during the winter - especially on cloudy days. Placing plants by windows is an easy solution, just make sure they don’t come in contact with any chilly drafts.

Away from the heat

Most plants thrive in high humidity as it helps keep soil moist. During colder months, the air becomes drier, especially when heaters or fireplaces are in use, further reducing the moisture in the air. So, although you may like things super toasty, try moving plants away from these heat sources. 


Use a plant mister to add humidity to the air around your plants. By spritzing leaves, the tiny droplets of water evaporate quickly into the atmosphere around the plant. However, before you attempt this, research where that particular plant originates from as well as the climate in that region to find out if they are suited to grow in humid environments. Keep in mind, some plants do not like wet leaves.

Group plants

Arrange plants in groups, so as they transpire (the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems and flowers) moisture will be released into the atmosphere surrounding the plants. Be careful not to overcrowd plants in a manner that prevents them from all getting enough sunlight. 


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Clear away dead leaves that may have collected on top of the soil, prune shriveled leaves using scissors or give them a gentle pluck. Don’t force leaves that are still green to be come loose, rather use scissors or wait a few more days.

Put them on display

Lastly, don’t forget to show off your beautiful plants. You’ve worked hard on them all year round and they deserve to be seen. Especially during a lockdown, when you time outdoors may be scarce, having greenery flourishing from around the home can instantly cheer you up. 

This article was originally published on IOL

Feature Image: Pexels