Why do houseplants die in winter and how can you stop it?

houseplants by a rainy window

Ever noticed your indoor plants keep drooping and dying when it gets colder?

The winter months bring with them chillier temperatures and darker days and this not only has an effect on us humans but our houseplants as well.

These seasonal changes can impact our little green friends, so we need to adjust our plant parenting habits accordingly.

Angela Dobson, founder of Green & Wild tells Metro.co.uk: ‘During the winter our houseplants are dormant, taking a little rest. It’s colder, the air is drier and there are less hours of sunlight, so the conditions for growth are much reduced. 

‘As a result they do not need as much watering or feeding as they do during the growth season.

‘This means the common cause of them dying during the winter is actually from overwatering, as plant owners tend to continue to water their plants as they would during the spring and forget to change their plant tending habits to adjust for the seasons.’

So, if your houseplants are looking a little ropey at the moment, Angela has outlined some simple things to remember this winter…

Pop your plants in the bathroom

You’ve probably seen the aesthetically-pleasing jungle bathrooms on Instagram which are filled to the brim with houseplants.

Well, the good news is that they’re not only a joy to look at but they’re also good for the plants themselves. 

Angela says, during winter, it’s important to ‘reduce watering to avoid root rot but increase humidity by misting them or placing in a bathroom.’

So rather than kill them with kindness and overwater, simply pop them in the bathroom and let the humidity do the work for you.

Keep cold at bay

It seems we have a lot in common with our plant friends: we both like to be fed, watered and given attention. And, just like humans, plants can be really sensitive to the cold.

Angela says: ‘Most plants are sensitive to cold, so move them away from any draughts.’

Make sure your houseplants get light

Plants love sunlight, but during the winter months – when the days are shorter – there’s a limited amount of light for them to thrive off.

So make sure your little leafy friends are placed in optimum positions.

Angela says: ‘Increase their light source to compensate for the shorter days, moving them nearer to a window that is south or west facing.’

Choose robust plants

If you have a bit of a reputation for killing plants, it might be a good option to choose ones which are more forgiving.

Angela says: ‘Do your research if buying new plants and invest in something hardy like Devil’s Ivy – so called because it’s practically un-killable.’

Some examples of houseplants which are more low maintenance are Aloe, Alocasia cuprea and Monstera Obliqua Monkey Leaf.

Clean your houseplant’s leaves

Angela adds: ‘Plants can get more dusty during the winter so clean the leaves with lukewarm water to help increase the amount of light they get.’

When doing so, make sure you support the leaves with one hand, to avoid bruising or cracking them.

It might be stating the obvious but remember not to use oils or polishes to make the leaves shine – as these can block pores, which can interfere with a plant’s ability to breathe.

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