While gardening is by no means a new trend, the concept of becoming a “plant parent” has really caught on in recent years. Whether driven by interior design trends or quarantine life, houseplant ownership has skyrocketed — and the indoor plant industry is one of the few that millennials have actually helped to thrive. But if you’re new to plant parenthood or you’re a bit nervous about how your houseplants will survive the coldest months of the year (even when they’re indoors), you certainly aren’t alone. Let’s take a look at some tips that will keep your plants alive throughout the winter as they remain indoors.
Pick Low-Maintenance Plants
While you could theoretically transfer many outdoor plants to pots for indoor life, not every plant is well-suited for this new environment. This is particularly true if you don’t consider yourself to be green-thumbed or you know you have a tendency to forget about your plants for a few days at a time. Although neglect is the number one reason why children in Kentucky were removed from their homes between 2010 and 2015, neglectful pet parents may have to try desperately to save their plant babies’ lives — sometimes to no avail. But if you pick the right plants from the start, you’ll decrease the risk that something will go awry.
Basically, low-maintenance plants are key. Succulents, spider plants, and snake plants are all notoriously difficult to kill, even for beginners. Pothos, ZZ plants, and rubber plants are also good choices if you’re worried about your ability to help them survive. Certain herbs can be decent choices, as well, though you should steer clear of basil (as it’s not a good choice for indoor conditions). As you become more confident in your ability to care for your plants, you can expand your horizons.
It might sound strange, but you’ll actually end up watering your plants less while they’re indoors (even though the air can be relatively warm and dry). Although a trillion gallons of water are wasted each year as a result of leaks, you’ll end up wasting H2O — and jeopardizing the life of your plants — if you over-water during the winter. The growth rate of indoor plants will typically slow down during the winter months, while some actually go dormant. Water is necessarily to keep plants alive and hydrated, but you don’t have to be heavy-handed. If the soil is dry at least an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. But some cacti won’t need much, if any, water at all. Be sure to use room-temperature water, rather than cold, to avoid shocking the roots!
Relocate For Better Light
Of course, plants need sunlight. But what might surprise you is that the light from a nearby window may not be nearly enough. Depending on the care instructions for your particular plant, you may need to relocate it to a south- or west-facing window that will let sunlight in for the entire day. In some cases, you may also need to supplement natural light with indoor bulbs. It’s generally advised that you rotate your plants when you water them so the whole plant can receive relatively equal light.
Adjust Your Home’s Humidity and Temperature
Indoor plants can also be finicky when it comes to temperature and humidity. Since winter air is already dry — and your heater makes it even more so — you’ll want to add in some excess humidity for the sake of your plants. Grouping plants together, especially near a tray of water, can help. You may also want to purchase a home humidifier to ensure the air is a bit moister. Since 12.43% of bathrooms have a modern design aesthetic (and many young people love the look of plants in the bathroom!), putting them in an area that you take a hot shower in every day can also make your plants happy. As far as temperature is concerned, plants like consistency. Keep your thermostat set between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit at all times — and make sure your plants aren’t located near any drafty doorways, ovens, radiators, heat registers, or even electronic devices, as the extra heat or cold can quickly kill plants.
Becoming a pet parent is an enticing option for many people who simply aren’t ready for a real commitment and who love being surrounded by nature. With these tips in mind, you can keep your houseplants in perfect health throughout the colder months.