Lawn & Garden

Winter Care for Houseplants

Over the winter, when your outdoor garden has little to boast about, the greenery inside your home lifts spirits and keeps the air fresh. But believe it or not, even if a plant lives in a pot indoors, it remains aware of the seasons.

Houseplants deal with winter much the same as outdoor varieties. Although their colors stay bright, indoor plants essentially go to sleep. Here's how to provide the best care for your ficus, ferns, and philodendrons until the weather warms:

Limit watering, pay attention. Plants that are dormant do not require as much water as growing plants do during spring and summer. Use a finger to check the soil and give your plants a good soaking whenever the soil is dry.

Try a new window. If your plants pass the summer in one window, you might place them near another for the winter. Or give the window glass a wash, inside and out, in order to let in a little more light.

No food necessary. You may be inclined to fertilize to encourage growth, but your plants won't be interested until the days get longer and the sun gets stronger. Start back with weekly feedings to give your plants a boost closer to spring.

Give them a dusting. Wipe down any dusty leaves with a soft cloth dipped in water. Left alone, dust can prevent your plant from fully absorbing the nutrients it needs from the environment.

A little humidity goes a long way. Your plant may not be as thirsty now, but that doesn't mean it appreciates the dry air. Mist frequently and put tropical plants on a tray of rocks with a small amount of water.

For more on winter gatrdening, consider:

5 (Nearly) Kill-Proof Houseplants
Radio: Gardening Online
The Winter Garden: Hedge Your Bets