Your plants are ugly, suffering, or dying in winter? You ask for help and you’re always told the same three things: it lacks light, it’s too dry, and you haven’t reduced your watering enough?
But you try, you add a growth light, a humidifier… nothing works, your home remains a plant graveyard.
But why!? What are you doing wrong?
It gets frustrating in the long run, doesn’t it? Well, don’t despair: I have the beginner’s guide to understanding your plants during the cold season right here!
Light, Humidity, Watering
Let’s settle these three parameters which are the most “obvious”.
Yes, there’s less of it in the winter… but there can also be more!
In winter, the sun is present for a shorter time, but it is also much lower in the sky. A plant which needs a lot of light might lack some, in which case a grow lamp can indeed help. But conversely, a plant that fears direct light, like a fern for example, could find itself right in the sun’s path in winter . Maybe in the summer, when it’s high in the sky, it never gets hit, but in the winter, it ends up with an hour or two of direct sun, causing it to burn.
Direct sunlight, summer or winter, is still direct sunlight! Get out your compasses (or not!) and observe the angle of our burning star. Your problem may be simpler than you think.
Well, yes, with the heat on, the air in the house is drier. Do me a favor and stop misting your plants… other than putting water everywhere, it doesn’t increase the humidity significantly. What really makes a difference: a humidifier, boiling water, taking a bath, putting water near your plant (with or without clay balls), or, my favorite laidback method: put it in a bag.
She’s ugly, isn’t she?
We had a rocky start. I bought her in the fall and as soon as the heat was gone, she started to wither. She spent about a month in the tub. I would water, close the sheer curtain, take her out, shower, put her back in the tub… A whole lot of trouble.
Finally, I told her: “If you still want to be here this summer, you’ll have to work a little harder. Put your back into it, lady!”
I put a bag over her head with a small pot of water underneath. Since then, she’s getting better; new leaves are starting to come out and she has a nice 75–80% humidity in her little greenhouse. Tadam!
Everyone says to cut back on water…I have some that are thirstier in the winter. Every plant will have different needs so, no secret here, stick your finger in the dirt to see if it needs a drink.
Plant drinks when they breathe. To breathe, they need the energy of the sun. The drier it is, the faster they breathe… See? It really depends on each plant, each room, each day! A plant facing south in the bathroom, or the same plant facing north next to the heater might have the same needs, or not at all. Put your finger in the ground instead of trying to make sense of it all.
Other Less Obvious Factors
Observe your plant. Take a step or two back and look around your plant. What do you see? Do this again at different times of the day. Here is what you might see:
- The presence of a nearby radiator
- A door creates an occasional draft of cold air.
- Cold air comes in through the window.
- Air circulates less than in the summer with the windows closed.
- Your habits in the house are changing (do you smoke indoors in the winter, is your TV on 24 hours a day and the plant on top has too much heat?)
- Your pet gets bored because it goes out less and entertains itself with your plants.
- There is more or less movement in some rooms.
Some of these reasons may sound absurd, but I promise you that nature is just as silly! Why has my triostar in the bath withered and another one without any special care is beautiful in your home? It could be 1001 reasons! Some plants react to the sound of cows chewing, imagine the effect of all these seasonal changes! So keep an eye on your environmental constants, but also on your life habits in this cold season.
I know that the blog is read all over the world and I wonder: where do you read us from, and what does winter look like for you?
Here in Quebec, it’s like mother nature’s menopause: one day it’s sunny and 15°F, one day it’s raining at 40°F, and another day it snows a meter and it’s -40°F!
… the funny pictures and videos you see on social networks… are REAL!…