Houseplants can struggle in the dry air and low light of winter, but choosing the right plants and following a few simple steps can help your indoor plants thrive.
Keeping houseplants alive and happy over the winter can be challenging, especially in Colorado. Low humidity in our state adds to normal winter challenges for houseplants, including shorter days, drying from indoor heating systems, damage from being too close to windows, and low light inside buildings.
But it's worth the effort to keep houseplants, especially in the winter, because not only do they provide a little bit of nature in your indoor environment, but they also improve indoor air quality and some studies suggest they play a role in reducing stress and fatigue, and boosting mood, creativity, and productivity.
You can increase your chance of success with indoor gardening during the winter months with a few simple routines:
All plants require less water during the winter, even those that live indoors. Overwatering can lead to yellowing of leaves and moldy soil. As winter approaches, cut your normal watering schedule in half.
Houseplants can be sensitive to cold air, and leaky windows are often the culprit. If your plant starts dropping leaves, you may need to seal and insulate your windows, or move your plants away from doorways and windows that let cold air in.
Plants need light, and the shorter days of winter coupled with lower light levels in buildings can make it challenging to ensure your plants are getting the light they need. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with full-spectrum lights in fixtures near your plants is a simple way to help your plant thrive.
Give a spritz.
Dust can accumulate on the leaves of your plants and inhibit photosynthesis. Every now and then, spray your plants with water or gently wipe the leaves clean to make sure have a clear surface area to absorb the extra light you are providing!
Don't make a lot of changes to your plant's environment over the winter, including repotting or adding fertilizer. Your plants won't be putting their energy into growth during the winter months anyway. But don't be shy about pruning leaves or vines that look unhealthy or brown.
Another way to set yourself and your houseplants up for winter success is to choose varieties that work well in Colorado. Some suggestions:
Picture from Ulrike Leone on PIxabay
It's pretty hard to mess up when it comes to the resilient cactus. Naturally a desert dweller, cacti are accustomed to dry conditions and like bright, sunny spaces. They won't get mad at you if you miss a day of watering. In fact, while they are in their winter rest season, they may not need water for weeks. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but keep an eye on cacti and water more frequently if they are near warm windows, heating elements or vents.
Jade is a slow-growing succulent that is a popular housewarming gift because it has traditionally been thought to bring its owner good luck. As with other succulents, overwatering is the biggest danger with jade. Make sure they get plenty of light and they will reward you with flowers in late winter.
The snake plant is perhaps the most tolerant plant you can buy. Experts say you can ignore a snake plant for weeks without causing it harm. They also thrive in low light and dry air, so place snake plants in indirect light and let dry out between waterings.
Monstera is another easy plant to keep indoors and provides a tropical flair that will be welcome on cold winter days. This plant prefers indirect light and doesn't need to be watered frequently. Monstera prefers humid conditions, so be sure to keep it away from heat elements that could dry it out and occasional mist it with water.
The peace lily is so easy to care for, some people say you can grow it in a closet. Part of the philodendron family, peace lilies are so easy to grow indoors because they prefer medium to low light. However, the more light you provide to this plant the more blooms it will produce. The white "blooms" on the peace lily are actually specialized leaf bracts that provide a hood for the flowers.
Dracaena sanderiana, otherwise known as lucky bamboo, needs very little light in indoor environments and can actually grow in water, rather than soil. This interesting plant will need a water change every couple of weeks if growing in water, and its water needs will increase as it grows.
The moth orchid may look fragile and intimidating, but experts say this plant is relatively easy to care for and will bloom year-round. These pretty plants enjoy windowsills where they can bask in the light and prefer moist but not wet soil. Provide a pot with good drainage, use an orchid fertilizer, and repot when the plant is not in bloom.
Azaleas are typically considered an outdoor plant, but indoor varieties do well thanks to their preference for cool, filtered sun. Indoors, they will prefer temperatures in the low 60s with indirect light. Azaleas will be especially sensitive to Colorado's dry air, so make sure to keep soil moist. When spring arrives, you can plant your azalea in your outdoor garden, or keep it in a pot outdoors and bring it inside again next winter.
Bromeliads appear exotic and tropical, which can bring a touch of warmth to homes on cold winter days. These colorful plants need medium to bright light when grown indoors and thrive in shallow pots. You may find your bromeliad actually likes orchid mix rather than soil. Bromeliads won't last for years, but watch for "pups" at the base of the plant, which can be removed and planted to create a new plant for next winter!
Any additional Colorado-friendly plants we missed? Or other tips? Comment below.