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How to keep houseplants alive during autumn and winter

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The British weather is challenging for many reasons.

As we step into the dark and chilly climate of autumn, we’re probably noticing it has an impact our mood, our skin, and our weekend plans. But have you thought about your house plants?

If you’re home is an abundance of green, and you spend every spare minute spritzing, misting, pruning and caring for your leafy children, you might want to think about the impact of the change in temperature and light.

Plants are notoriously temperamental, and the slightest change in environment can take them from luscious and vibrant to crispy, drooping and sad.

But there are things you can do to mitigate the effects of the loss of light and the harshness of the central heating. Read on to ensure your plants stay at their best over the next few months.

John Dempsey at Housetastic has shared his rules to abide by to ensure that your houseplants survive the winter:

Food and water

‘Over the colder months, limit your plants intake of foods and fertilisers,’ says John. ‘Many houseplants become dormant over the colder months. They may look a little sorry for themselves however, they are still alive and kicking.

‘The dormant stage sees them suspend the growing process and a slower rate of photosynthesis, hence why food is not necessary. Fertiliser should be diluted in the winter months by half.’

John adds that overwatering and underwatering are the most common reasons plants perish.

‘Many plant parents observe the top layer of soil, consider it dry and then water, when in fact the soil underneath the top layer is perfect,’ he says. ‘Of course, some neglect their plants altogether and forget to water, leading them to die. To determine if a plant is in need in water, plant your index finger into the soul, if it is damp then its fine, dry than it may need watering.

‘Ensure that all water is drained from the pot to avoid root rot. Of course, cacti and succulents prefer dryer conditions.

‘If you wish to replicate the humid conditions of the plant’s natural habitat, mist its leaves with water to keep its environment saturated.’


‘The intense heat that flows from radiators will stress even the hardiest of houseplants, especially those that prefer humid conditions,’ says John. ‘A radiator that provides a lot heat will rapidly rob a plant of moisture, especially its soil.

‘Signs of stress include the yellowing of leaves, wilting and stems turning brown.’

John says that drafts can also be bad news for houseplants.

‘Especially if they are hot from the likes of a radiator,’ he says. ‘Move your plants away from radiators and doors that let in a breeze.’

Find the light

The colder months mean shorter days, meaning indoor plants experience limited sunlight. John says it’s important to be mindful of this and reposition plants to places where they will receive the most natural light.

‘A plant often signals if its in need of more light as it begins to lean towards it,’ he adds.

‘Households also tend to experience high amounts of dust throughout the cooler months. Ensure that plants are kept dust free as a layer of dust on the leaves will create a barrier, not allowing it to receive sufficient light.

‘Before losing faith in your plant, determine if its dormant or too ill to recover. If its dormant, the plant will gain a new lease of life towards the spring.’

Gardening experts Primrose have also provided some easy care tips to help your houseplants survive as it gets colder:

Keep your home humid

With the heating cranked up high, humidity levels inside UK homes can drop in winter.

Crank up the humidifier or if you don’t have access to one, consider placing your houseplants in rooms with more moisture such as the bathroom or kitchen.

Be careful near windows

It’s normal to keep houseplants near windows so they benefit from the most light and this still applies, even in winter. Be cautious about where you place your plants – somewhere where they can still have access to the light but don’t feel a draft from the window is best. Windows drop to freezing temperatures when frost hits and this could freeze your plant’s rots.

Keep the heat on

If you’re in the office, it may be tempting to keep the heating off during the day in order to save on costs. However, if the temperature in your house is fluctuating to freezing then warm with the off and on of the heating, your houseplants could suffer.

Consider keeping your heating on a steady, warm temperature to keep your houseplants happiest.

Near-indestructible houseplants that will survive winter

Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculas Zamiifolia)

The Zanzibar Gem is a hardy houseplant. It boasts attractive, year-round foliage and is the perfect plant for those wanting to add some colour to a space without the stress of a meticulous watering schedule.

The Zanzibar Gem tolerates low light, doesn’t need to be watered regularly and is incredibly low-maintenance.

Aloe Vera

Asides from being Aloe Vera plants only need to be thoroughly watered once a month, which makes them ideal for first-time indoor gardeners.

The Aloe Vera plant tolerates dry air, so there’s no need for a humidifier and can adapt to partial shade, so there’s not a lot of need for constant sunshine.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

The long-leafed Spider Plant is a common houseplant, only requiring moist soil to remain a healthy green colour. Spider plants enter dormancy in winter and therefore do not require a lot of water.

Even if they’re looking a little droopy, spider plants are easily revived making them a worthy plant-child for owners who don’t have much time.


Credit: Source

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