AMES, Iowa – While the weather outside might be frightful, taking care of indoor plants during the winter months is relatively simple.
That’s because indoor plants aren’t growing as much during the winter as they do during other seasons, said Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This means watering less often and no fertilizing.
“Plants still need to be watered in the same way as during other times of the year, just not as often in winter,” Jauron said. “In spring and summer when plants are actively growing they may need to be watered every six to seven days. In winter, the period between waterings is usually a little longer, maybe every eight or nine days.”
The lack of growth also means plants don’t need to be fertilized.
“In the winter plants really aren’t growing as much as they are just existing,” Jauron said. “Days are short and plants don’t get much light. They shouldn’t be fertilized because that encourages them to grow when indoor growing conditions aren’t favorable.”
One of the biggest problems for indoor plants in the winter is the low humidity inside homes, causing plants to become dry. Moisture evaporates from the potting soil, plus water is lost through plant foliage via transpiration. So grouping plants together can help add moisture to the air in the vicinity of the plants.
“Another way to raise the humidity around indoor plants is to place the pots in saucers with ridges on their bottoms,” Jauron said. “When watering, excess water will flow into the saucer. The excess water will then evaporate into the air. When doing this, make sure the bottoms of the pots remain above the water level.”
ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Indoor Plants” (PM 0713) provides over 180 color photos and 110 plant descriptions while covering foliage and flowering house plants.
Copies of the 2018 Garden Calendar – Celebrating with Plants (HORT 3027) also remain available. This calendar highlights the plants that feature into many important celebrations and holidays throughout the year.