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How to care for your indoor plants in winter

By Sarah Doolan

Although your indoor plants are kept safe and sound within the four walls of your cosy home during winter, the change in temperature, humidity and general conditions can have a negative impact on your frondy friends. If you want to keep your indoor plants happy this winter, then follow our advice.

Let there be light

Sunshine can be hard to find during winter, but it’s necessary to keep your indoor plants thriving. Check the sunlight requirements for each of your plants, and make sure all of them are either within a brightly lit room, or in front of a window that gets plenty of sunlight.

Let there be light

Sunshine can be hard to find during winter, but it’s necessary to keep your indoor plants thriving. Check the sunlight requirements for each of your plants, and make sure all of them are either within a brightly lit room, or in front of a window that gets plenty of sunlight.

Watch the temperature

Most indoor plants tend to have originated in tropical or sub-tropical zones, so they like a bit of warmth. But if you have the heating on, it might be too warm! The answer is to avoid temperature extremes: keep your plants out of cold draughts in windows and doorways but, equally, don’t stand them on top of, or directly in front of, heaters. One exception to this rule is the cyclamen: it especially loves to be outside on a chilly night – so pop it out on the back verandah before you go to bed.

Don’t let plants dry out

The humidity drops rapidly in winter, and this effect is exacerbated by home heating, which dries the air. Some plants – ferns, painted leaf begonias, prayer plants and zebra plants, for example – require high humidity to stay healthy. If dry air is a problem, group your plants together and spray a mist on them, or stand them on a bed of pebbles in a tray of water that will evaporate around them. You can also move the plants to areas of higher humidity, such as the kitchen or bathroom, or place a bowl of water near your heater to add moisture to the air.

Water carefully

The most common mistake with indoor plants in winter is over-watering. They do not need as much water as in the warmer months, but they do need some, especially if they are in a hot, dry room. If a pot seems dry on the surface, lift it up and feel its weight – a very dry plant will feel much lighter than a damp one. Push your finger into the soil to a depth of about 5cm – if it is completely dry, then water! Give them a good soaking (let African violets absorb water from the bottom), allow to drain thoroughly, then replace them on their saucers. Never allow them to stand in excess water – and leave them to dry out almost completely before watering again. Cacti and succulents might not need any watering at all through winter.

Pests and general care

Warm, dry air can encourage spider mite or scale insects, so keep an eye out for these and talk to your garden centre if they become a problem. Your indoor plants do not need fertiliser during winter, but those with smooth leaves will love a weekly wipe-over with a damp cloth to keep them looking clean and glossy.

How to care for your indoor plants according to your city

Victoria and Tasmania

In states where morning frosts are common and the temperature regularly drops below zero, such as in the country’s southern states, It’s best to keep your indoor plants in places that get lots of warm afternoon sunlight, such as windowsills.

NSW and Queensland

Those who live in Sydney and Queensland may not get a winter quite as cold as Tasmania’s, but the air-con units are still switched on, making a lack of humidity an issue in these locations. If you have indoor plants and are regularly running the heater, remember to mist your plants regularly to keep the humidity up.

Australian Capital Territory

Those living in the Canberra region experience days that are long and cold, so it’s important to make sure your indoor plants aren’t sitting in a drought or on top of a heater. Place them in a location that has a consistent temperature.

Western Australia

If you live in the Perth area you probably don’t find winter to be all that chilly, and neither will your plants. Care for them as usual, and address any issues – such as brown tips – as they arise.

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