It may seem like winter is nothing but a death sentence for your beloved houseplants, but the coldest months are simply the time to use more specialized plant care. Far from being a period of inactivity or failed household foliage, winter can still be a healthy time for your plants. Winter even has the potential to bring out the most vibrant colors and blooms of the entire year for some plant species, including camellias, winter jasmines, and many types of witch hazel.
During winter, many plants undergo dormancy, in which they are still alive but suspend the growing processes. Different plant species employ a variety of genetic adaptations designed to maintain health against the dropping temperatures and lack of sunlight. For instance, seeds from plants native to colder climates spend the winter metabolizing to prepare for spring. Photosynthesis and respiration both slow down for many plants, minimizing the amount of sugar the plants have to metabolize in the cold. A plant shedding its leaves is also strategic, as doing so allows for nutrient conservation.
Eventually, once temperatures rise again, plants will know to end their dormancy periods. This is largely due to plants’ “temperature memories,” which enable them to keep track of interactions between proteins and measure time and temperature to deduce when spring has arrived.
Of course, even if your plants have their own methods of fending for themselves against the harsh elements of winter, a little specialized cold-weather care can go a long way, too. Stacker used a variety of home and gardening resources to compile a list of 20 tips to help you better care for your houseplants in the winter. They vary from techniques to manipulate light and heat to watering, cleaning, and potting methods that can keep the cold from getting the better of your plants. It should be kept in mind, however, that these tips are largely generalized; the specific needs of plants differ based on their species and origins. It’s always important to research each particular plant type beforehand.
Read on to learn how to best care for your indoor plants through the year’s coldest months.