By Michael Jenkins
We’re looking at record cold temperatures in many parts of the US this week, and that means that most of us won’t be spending much time outside at all. Being stuck indoors is a great opportunity to explore and learn about some other aspects of gardening. We’ve written before about indoor gardening and about how to care for indoor plants, but wintertime brings some special considerations that are worth their own blog. So: how can you best take care of your indoor plants in winter? Let’s dig in!
Taking care of your indoor plants in winter is a lot like buying real estate: the three most important things are location, location, and location. Where you put your indoor plants has a huge effect on how they handle the winter and whether or not they thrive. Indoor plants need the same things that their outdoor cousins do: light, water, good soil and nutrition, and the right temperatures. However, indoor plants in winter can encounter some challenges:
- Getting enough light indoors in winter can be an issue. A window that lets in plenty of light during the rest of the year may not do so in winter as the days are shorter and the angle ofthe sun is different. Pay attention to where your plants are located, check on them throughout the day to see that they get enough sun, and supply additional light via grow light if needed.
- Likewise, ensuring that your indoor plants both get and retain enough water can be a bit more of a challenge in wintertime. If you’re heating your house in cold weather, you’re introducing dry air that can pull moisture away from plants far more quickly than it otherwise would. Plants located near heating vents may experience additional drying as hot air blasts over them. With this in mind, check the location of your plants, make sure they’re at a stable temperature, and that they get enough water throughout to stay healthy.
- Just as hot air is a problem, cold air can be a problem too. Leaks around windows and doors, cracks in walls, and even power outlets on external walls can let in cold drafts that may harm indoor plants during winter. Double check where your plants are located and ensure that they’re shielded from these blasts of cold air.
- Protecting your plants from dry air, hot air, and cold drafts is especially important for seedlings and seeds you’re starting. Ensuring that new plants and seeds are protected from sudden changes in temperatureor loss of moisture is the best way to ensure that they succeed.
- Trimming and pruning indoor plants during wintertime is a contentious question; every gardener has an opinion and is happy to share it! In general, we recommend trimming and pruning plants as you would if they were outdoors. If you’re overwintering fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers, or the like, pinching off blooms in winter can help the plant conserve energy during the colder weather and promote stronger growth when spring returns.
- Remember: caring for indoor plants in winter is a chance to learn about your space, your plants, and to expand your gardening skills. Success and failure is less important than learning, growing, and furthering your understanding of how plants, gardening, and our world work.
Cold weather is just another part of gardening, and wintering indoors is both a challenge and an opportunity. Take this time to learn more about plants, your skills as a gardener, and to plan for the springtime garden to come. And keep yourselves warm and safe during the coming winter weather—Gardzen is all about community and we care about you all!