The days grow shorter, the suns shines with less intensity and temperatures drop as our natural world slows down. Winter has set with a quiet cue to slow down and rest more during these darker colder months. The same is true for your houseplants.
Offering your plants proper care during the winter season isn’t a huge amount of work, but it can make all the difference for growing a thriving houseplant collection come springtime!
Here are five tips for winterizing your indoor plants:
1. COLLECT RAIN WATER
Recreating the natural environment for your houseplants is something we encourage here at Sacred Elements, and watering with rainwater is a beautiful way to do just that! Rainwater contains a beneficial element plants love—Nitrates! Nitrogen and oxygen together form this powerhouse nutrient your plants crave. Imagine how the garden grows so lush during springtime, leaves are vibrant and stems grow strong thanks to the abundant rain showers!
Rainwater is soft water, free of harsh salts and chemicals found in treated tap water. Rainwater is also slightly acidic, which helps unlock micronutrients once it reaches your soil. Copper, iron and potassium are like electrolytes for the roots, hydrating them with naturally occurring goodness and enriching your soil naturally!
Here are a few tips for easy collection and application of rainwater for your houseplants.
Place a few empty vases, old tuber ware, or a large bucket outside during the rainy season (that’s October through May for those of us in the Pacific Northwest). Even if you don’t live in a climate of abundant rain, you can still collect whatever rainwater is available— a little is better than nothing!
Be sure to let the temperature of the rainwater warm up! We bring the bucket or vases full of rainwater inside for a day before watering our plants to avoid any cold stress to the root system.
Rainwater is amazing for soaking air plants and marimo really enjoy a rain bath too!
2. LESS LIGHT MEANS LESS FOOD AND WATER
Sunlight, water and fertilizer-these three ingredients fuel your houseplant’s growth. So when plants absorb less sunlight during the winter months, their need for extra 'calories' decreases too. If you consider how photosynthesis works: plants harness light energy from the sun, convert that energy into fuel to grow, giving your plant nutrients without balancing out the light requirements so it can use up that energy is like overeating and then sitting around all day...we would gain weight and can become unhealthy!
The exception is grow lights! If you are supplementing the natural sunlight of winter with grow lights, then you can continue to feed your plants as usual. We recommend applying Sacred Soil Tonic to your watering schedule anywhere from 1-4 times a month for optimal health. If you aren't using grow lights then a lightl nourishing schedule of once a month is ideal. And you can always enjoy the Sacred Leaf shower ritual! Taking time to give your plants a fresh leaf shine and light foliar feed with Sacred Leaf Tonic is a lovely way to dust off any debris, check for pests, and enjoy a dose of aromatherapy too!
3. CLEAN THOSE LEAVES
Keeping your houseplant leaves clean helps them not only look more lush and lovely, but they photosynthesis better! It’s also a fantastic opportunity to check for pests that may have arrived during summer or autumn, like mealy bugs, aphids or thrips. You may also notice that fungus gnats are flying around your home now that the widows are shut? I happens to us all and we got you covered there too! Check out our pest blog post library here
Dive into more detail about cleaning your leaves and foliar feed with our with our latest blog post here
4. HYDRATE YOUR INDOOR AIR
Keeping a humidifier going during the day or evening in the wintertime is a wise move in my experience. Just be sure your air circulation is also abundant to discourage any fungal growth and to discourage spider mites too! For those of you who have the heat turned up, your air will be drier and most houseplants *except desert dwellers like cactus and some succulents) tend to thrive in a more humid environment. During late fall and into winter, the average ambient indoor humidity drops considerably to about 10-20% whereas during the spring and summer months indoor humidity ranges from about 40-60% so supplementing with a humidifier is a good idea to keep you and your green babies hydrated.
5. CHASE THAT LIGHT!
There are a few ways to go about this one, adding grow lights during darker months, or relocating and consolidating plants that need the most sunlight to bright window with eastern, southern and western exposure.
Pro tip: if you notice your plants getting leggy, growing longer stems, stretching out and curving, this is their way of saying they need more light.
You can use a grow light to supplement their needs OR you can replace a few light bulbs with Full Spectrum LED bulbs. If you do choose to keep your houseplants under grow lights, be sure to give them a rest period too. I like to turn on our grow lights in the morning when making coffee and off again before dinnertime, so they have about 12 hours of light and 12 of darkness. I can highly recommend this grow light station from Gardeners Supply.
Hope this inspires many moments of self care while caring for your plant babies. I invite you to create space for sacred plant care rituals, a time to slow down and care for your plants and yourself. We have a thoughtful blog post dedicated to this practice for you too!
As always, sending out the love and wishing you health.
Karina and team SE