I’m No Expert, But Here’s What I’m Doing to Not Kill My Plants This Winter

With nearly 70 plants, I have learned a lot about caring for them

indoor plants

 The Spruce 

Even though I’m the proud plant mom of nearly 70 plants, I am by no means an expert when it comes to plant care—something I have to tell people a lot when they come to me with their plant questions.

But, I’m always happy to pass on some wisdom that I’ve learned since becoming a plant mom. Lately, the question on everyone’s mind is:

What should I do with my plants now that it’s getting colder out and darker earlier?

The thing is, all of the info I’ve found through my own research has been really conflicting which, as you can imagine, just makes things even more confusing. My situation is complicated—I live in an old house with original, drafty windows, and I have so many plants that relocating them all the time is unsustainable. 

While some of these things may work for me, they may not work for you and your plants. Here is my winter plant care plan. 

Close the Curtains at Night?

Because I have so many plants, moving them around is not really an option for me. I live in a really old Victorian house which still has the original windows, which means it gets super drafty in here. It’s only October and there is already a layer of condensation beneath our blackout curtains in our bedroom when we open them in the morning, which means that the draft is causing the windows to get super cold overnight.

big windows
The Spruce / Taylor Fuller

So keeping any plants directly in front of those windows is out of the question. 

But, if you go into my living room, my desk faces right up against the window. I know that I can cover myself in a blanket until we turn our heating on, but there’s nothing I can really do for my plants. 

plants in front of window and radiator
The Spruce / Taylor Fuller

One tip says it’s better (for the plants) to actually keep your curtains open at night if you can. This way no cold air is getting trapped. This way no cold air is getting trapped. The air is able to circulate which is good for your plants. Because of this, I’ve decided to keep my plants on my desk in the window and hope for the best. While some people may disagree with my decision, I need my plants to get light so I have to keep them in the window. If you’re lucky enough to have big windows, then you’ll be able to move things further away from them in the winter. I only have one window in my living room so the plants are staying put. You could invest in some grow lights if you want but because a lot of plants will go dormant in the wintertime anyways, I don’t think it’s necessary unless you’re not getting any light at all.

Heating

And then we get to the whole heating problem. Apparently (remember, I’m no expert) it’s okay to keep your plants above a radiator. You probably shouldn’t keep them directly in front of the radiator and you definitely don't want them touching it (that’s just asking for some crispy leaves). If you have central heating, I think the same goes, you don’t want to put your plants directly in front of a vent because the temperature will change drastically as the heat goes on and off and you could shock your plant. 

This brings on another dilemma because my radiators in my living room are next to the window and plants need light to thrive. So, after extensive googling I’ve discovered that as long as you keep the humidity up around the radiators (heating dries out the air), your plants should be fine. 

Group plants together
The Spruce / Taylor Fuller

This is another thing that I’ll be testing out with trial and error. I recently got a new humidifier which is great so I will be keeping that close by. If you don’t want to purchase a humidifier as they can be quite expensive, you can also fill a tray with pebbles and then cover that in water. Place the plant pot on top of that so that the roots aren’t sitting in water. Another quick tip is to group plants together to increase humidity (it also looks really nice when you layer your plants)!

Watering

While we’re on the subject of water, your watering and feeding schedule will change drastically. Don't go crazy with your watering can. Once it starts getting cooler out you won’t want to soak your plants through with water anymore. It’s better to feel the soil to see if it’s dry. If it is, water the top layer of soil. It takes a lot longer for soil to dry out during the winter months and you don’t want root rot or fungus gnats to take over your pot. If you’re worried about overwatering, you can bottom water, which is when you fill a tray with water, stick your plant on it for about an hour and then drain the excess water afterwards. 

Feeding

In terms of feeding your plants with fertilizer, it’s really not necessary during the winter because a lot of your plants won’t be concentrating on pushing out new growth, which will definitely make my morning routine of checking each and everyone of my plants a bit more dull. Instead, they’ll be focusing on surviving until the spring - that’s not to say you won’t get any new leaves! They just won’t be as frequent. 

The winter may not be very exciting for people with plants, but everything you do to ensure your plant health now will make it better when spring and summer come back around. I will still be checking my plants daily to make sure they’re happy! Especially since this is my first winter with them and I’m eager to see what works and what doesn’t. Remember it’s all about trial and error and finding what works for you, your home, and your plants.