Winter is coming...
This may be your first winter with plants, or you may just need a quick review of the steps to take to ensure that you do not lose your precious plant tribe over the winter season. Well, you're in luck! Here are a few key points to consider to keep your plants happy during the upcoming cold and frosty days:
- Maintain the humidity in your home:
It is hard to pick the most important tip in this blog, but if I had to pick two, this one would be one of them. Many of the plants we own are tropical plants, which prefer humid environments (ideally at least 50%). Totally opposite from our dry Canadian winters! For this reason, your plants will need some help. Here are some ways that you can maintain humidity:
- Group plants together. By grouping them together, they can increase the local humidity (i.e. the humidity of the air around your plants).
- Bowls of water. If you cannot remove your plants from near heating sources which can dry your plants out, try adding bowls of water just above the heating source. The water will evaporate, increasing the local humidity.
- Get a humidifier. This is really one of the most efficient ways to boost that humidity in the winter. Oil diffusers may help somewhat, but won't beat the far superior moisture output of the standard humidifier.
2. Consider supplemental light sources:
We all know, the sun is one of the "food" sources of plants. I won’t get into the elementary biology that we learned many moons ago (at least not in this blog), but plants harness the light energy from the sun and produce chemical energy that is used to fuel their main job of just being awesome. Of course in the wintertime, due to where we are located on the globe, the light energy is greatly reduced.
You may be lucky and still get sufficient light in the wintertime, but if you don’t, then supplemental light sources may be a good option for you during the winter. When shopping for lights, full spectrum lights are best in my opinion. These are similar to sunlight, and keep plant conditions as normal as possible.. Plus, they are much more pleasing to the eye than the red/purple lights!
- Insulation and circulation:
It gets cold here. So cold that you can sometimes feel the frost through your window pane. As soon as you open the door, you are blasted with arctic-like air straight up your nostrils. Well, plants tend to not like this experience either.
- Remove plants from near doors that may cause a draft when opened (front doors, balcony doors, patio doors)
- Make sure windows are properly insulated (this reminds me of my godmother who used to put plastic film on her drafty windows every winter). Or else, moving plants away from the window pane may help.
On the other hand, being closed in for months without much air circulation does not help either. I usually use my fan throughout the year and turn it on every once in a while, for some air movement. Make sure you let some fresh air in, by opening a door or window (not near a plant please!) regularly.
- Reduce watering:
This would most likely be my number 1 tip. I would love to tell you "water this plant every 3.25 days using 1.67 cups of water". That would make things easier for everyone. Unfortunately, plant water requirements vary due to many reasons. And time of year is one of them. The thirsty plants you had in the summer most likely will not be as thirsty in the wintertime.
I personally do not have a watering schedule for my plants (I check on them practically daily!). I determine the need for watering by examining the soil and leaves (if you would like a detailed blog on watering, let me know in the comments).
- Eliminate (or severely reduce) fertilizer use:
Because plants reduce their rate of growth at this time to practically zero, they do not require fertilizer, which is used to help them grow. Using fertilizer when the plant has no need for it can cause what we call fertilizer burn. (You know the saying: too much of a good thing...) I recommend eliminating fertilizer completely in the winter, or at least drastically reducing the frequency and amount.
- Know your plants:
Getting to know your plants can be a journey. Some plants are hardy and may tolerate occasional cold or drafts. Others will die at the sight of snow 2 metres from the window *sarcasm*. Observe the changes that occur with your plants and hop onto Google, to figure out what it might be. The #paintedleaftribe may also be able to help as well, so feel free to contact us!
Last tip from me:
- Be patient:
It is very exciting to see your plants shooting out new leaves every few days in the summer. We feel like plant gods and goddesses, or at the very least, awesome plant parents. However in the winter, plants reduce their rate of growth, with some plants even going dormant. Others like the Oxalis triangularis like to be cut back and placed in a dark area for a few weeks to rest. Remember, the winter is mainly for keeping your plants alive and satisfied, so they can start the spring/summer party season once that time rolls around once again.
As you can see, some of the tips can be beneficial for you as well as your plants, such as increasing humidity and air circulation and keeping warm (the fertilizer tip could be akin to reducing our food intake to prevent the extra pounds? Might be a bit of a stretch). All this to say, plants are as alive as we are and require much of the same care and attention, especially in the winter.
You and your plants will get through this together!
How are you preparing your home and plants for this winter season? Tell us in the comments below.