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Tips on Caring for Houseplants in the Fall and Winter

Get some tips on maintaining healthy houseplants during the cooler months.

Houseplants generally thrive during the spring and summer months, but the real challenge is helping them survive the fall and winter. Part of the problem is that indoor humidity levels drop considerably when homeowners fire up their heaters. Dry air can be devastating to houseplants, especially considering that most are tropical in origin and require a humid environment to thrive. Here are some tips to keep your houseplants happy.

Houseplant Care Tip #1: Mist Your Plants
Ideally mist indoor plants with water once a day, but three times a day is even better. Although this can be time consuming, tropical houseplants benefit from the humidity. Alternatively, you can position houseplants near an indoor water feature, which will increase the humidity around the plants.

Houseplant Care Tip #2: Wipe Dust off Leaves and Stems
Accumulated dust on leaf surfaces can plug up pores, making it difficult for plants to "breathe." Wiping leaves routinely with a damp cloth will correct the problem.

Houseplant Care Tip #3: Give Plants Lots of Light
The angle of the sun changes considerably during the fall and winter, which means plants that once received lots of light during the spring and summer may be getting only half as much now. Move plants that require bright light to a new location for the next few months if needed. Remember to rotate your houseplants every week or two so they receive light evenly on all sides.

Houseplant Care Tip #4: Don't Fertilize
Because houseplants slow their growth processes in winter, withhold fertilizing them until next spring.

Houseplant Care Tip #5: Wait Until Spring to Repot Plants
Repotting will actually stimulate new growth.

Houseplant Care Tip #6: Back off on Your Watering Schedule
The most important thing is to change the way you water your houseplants. Don't water them during the winter as often as you did during the spring and summer. Because their growth rate is considerably slower, houseplants don't need as much water in the fall and winter. In fact, you may find that you can cut back on the frequency of your watering schedule by half or even two-thirds. For example, cacti and succulents may only need water once a month.

Overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant demise. It's easy to avoid, so instead of watering your houseplants every Wednesday or Saturday, water them only when they need water. To check this, stick your finger into the soil to a depth of two inches. If your finger comes out dry, the plant needs water. When you water, use water that's slightly tepid, rather than cold, because plants don't like a cold shower.

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