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How do I take care of houseplants in the winter?


Our Creative Director, Sun Ngo, is our resident botanist; These are just a few of the many plants she takes care of in her home. Ngo’s choices for winter-hardy plants that survive in Canada include snake plants, monstera deliciosa, and succulents. (Photo: Sun Ngu)

If you are a parent to summer asters but often struggle to keep your plants alive and healthy during the cooler months, you may need to adjust your plant care routine.

“The biggest mistake I see is not changing up your care routine during the winter,” says Miah Mills, director of customer service for Urban Gardener in Toronto. “When the heating comes on, our homes really dry out, and in Canada, it gets dark much earlier, so we lose a lot of the quality of the light. So as the conditions of our homes change, so do the needs of our plants.”

With a few simple steps, you can help your plants not only survive the winter, but also thrive. Read on to find out the best way to care for your houseplants this winter.

Choose hardy plants

Taking the time to get to know a plant before you buy it can go a long way, as some plants do better than others in cool, dry climates. Plants that do the best [in winter] Are the ones that tend to thrive on neglect,” says Mills. “Plants with really thick leaves that don’t ooze or lose a lot of water do well, too, because they keep calm and keep going.”

In contrast, plants with thin, delicate leaves are likely to require more maintenance in the winter. “The thinner the leaf, the more moisture the plant needs to survive,” says Ashley Esakin, a soil scientist and creator of the Gardening Canada blog and podcast. But how do you know if the sheets are thick enough? She said, “If you feel that the leaf of the plant will break when you pinch it, then this is a thick leaf.”

If you want to buy a plant that does well year-round—and especially in winter—Mills and Essakin suggest snake plants, ZZ plants, pothos, philodendrons, cacti, and succulents.


Place a humidifier, like this one from Levoit, in the same room as your plants to provide consistent moisture throughout the day. (Photo: Levoit)

Humidity control

If the air quality in your home is particularly dry, or if your plants have delicate, delicate leaves, you may need to increase the humidity level. “Nine times out of 10 if a plant is suffering, it’s because it’s not getting enough moisture,” says Mills, noting that spraying the plants will only provide temporary relief, but is not a permanent solution.

One option is to invest in a humidifier, which you should place in the same room as your plants to provide consistent moisture throughout the day. “There are a lot of really cool smart humidifiers out there that you can preset to a certain percentage, and then they’ll turn off once you get to that, or turn off again once you get below that,” says Mills. An important tip is to get it [a humidifier] that fill from the top, so that you don’t have to drag it into the bathtub or sink to fill it.”

There are also a few other tricks you can use at home to increase humidity naturally. It can help to move your plants away from windy windows into rooms with higher humidity levels—like your kitchen or bathroom—or you can place your plants in groups of three or four. “When a plant perspires, it creates its own low-humidity biome, so grouping your plants together is another way to increase humidity,” says Mills.

Three mini houseplants in bright white and yellow ceramic pots

Left and center: Airplants. Right, gasteria. They are all tough and tough plants. (Photo: Sun Ngo)


Get a grow light (or lamp)

When it comes to winter plant care, lighting can make as much of a difference as humidity. “I think people underestimate the amount of light a plant really needs to grow,” says Esakin. “Houseplants need about 12 to 18 hours of light per day, so if we’re dealing with shorter day times in the winter, window light simply isn’t enough.”

Esakin recommends supplementing a natural nightlight with a grow light, which is a light bulb that mimics the spectrum of light from the sun. It doesn’t have to be fancy — you can just turn out the regular bulbs in your house to get grow lights [because] They look like regular bulbs,” she says. If you’re new to planting lights, look for them at your local plant, garden, or home store. Esakin recommends General Electric’s full-spectrum LED bulbs, which are similar to regular bulbs and cost $20 each.

One of the benefits of grow lights is that you don’t have to move your plants in the winter. “You can still have them scattered around your house and enjoy them as decoration,” notes Mills.

UNIROI Indoor Outdoor Soil Moisture Meter Soil Tester Soil Moisture Sensor for Garden Farm Lawn Plants (No Battery Needed)

A moisture meter such as a Uniroi meter will help you measure the moisture in your soil more accurately so you can avoid over or under water.

Consider how you water

Instead of following a watering schedule, Mills recommends touch-up watering. Your plant may be using less water because its metabolism has slowed [due to] cooler temperatures or less light. Stick your finger in the soil to see if there is still water in there first and then don’t risk over-watering your plant.”

On the other hand, you don’t want to over water your plants either. “We want to keep soil moisture above 20 percent, so it should still feel a little damp when you actually go to test that soil and that’s a sign it’s time to water it. You never want to let it get to the point where it feels dry.” Bones—and that’s when it’s a bit too far,” Esakin says, noting that cacti and succulents are the only exceptions to dry soil.

If you’re not used to touch watering, Esakin suggests getting a plant sensor—also known as a hygrometer—so you can more accurately gauge the level of moisture in your soil before you water, which helps prevent both: and overwatering. Find plant sensors at your local plant, garden, or home store.

Smd – but gently

Plant metabolism naturally slows in the winter, which means you have to adjust your fertilizing method accordingly. “As long as your plant is still growing, it’s safe to compost, but you just want to use something really gentle,” says Mills. He recommends using an organic fertilizer such as that from Canadian brand BIOS, which makes a natural plant fertilizer. You can also use worm castings, which are available at most plant and garden stores. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of it [worm castings] on the surface of the soil once a month. It is water soluble so it will dissolve when the plant is watered and go into the soil to give the plant a boost. “

Using a gentle fertilizer is important because if you over-fertilize in the winter, you could end up burning your plants. “If your plant has lower temperatures and less light, these biological processes happen a lot more slowly, so you want the plant to be able to use all the fertilizer you give it,” says Mills. “While in the summer, if your plant is growing vigorously, it will use up the fertilizer as quickly as you give it. So using a gentle amount is better—you don’t want to burn it by doing too much.” If all you have on hand is an industrial or chemical fertilizer, Mills says just dilute it more and only use it at a quarter or half of the normal strength.

A group of plants in terracotta and other pots on a shelf

Terracotta pots allow the plant to breathe, and are a great choice if you tend to overwater. (Photo: Sun Ngo)

Use a clay pot

If you tend to over water your plants, Esakin recommends using terracotta pots over plastic or ceramic pots. “Clay is porous and allows a lot of air to flow, which is important because that will ensure that the plant itself will be able to keep its roots nice and dry,” she says, noting that a clay pot will allow the plant to drain more evenly in general. “With ceramic and plastic pots, the roots tend to be a little more moist, and they don’t allow as much air to pass through.”

be patient!

Mills notes that learning how to care for plants well can be practical and offer a word of encouragement: “Anyone who is good at plants has killed their fair share of plants. So just because you killed one plant, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at plants. It could mean you picked the plant.” Wrong or you just didn’t get the right conditions, so learn more, ask questions and try again.”

    Sunjuu’s top ten hard-to-kill plants

  • snake plant
  • whale fin plant
  • rubber factory
  • monstera delicious
  • succulents (i.e. gasteria)
  • Also fig leaf
  • spider plant
  • airplane
  • Chinese evergreen (aglaonema)
  • Horse tail palm