November 01, 2022
By Maddy Hogan
As the seasons change, your plant care will need to be adapted to take into consideration both dormancy in house plants and environmental changes.
Most indoor plants are native to tropical regions that enter dormancy during environmental changes, such as decreased rainfall or increased temperatures. Dormancy is a period of time when a plant’s growth cycle slows, or completely stops, to accommodate for these environmental changes. The tropical house plants we have indoors will enter a period of dormancy during the winter months as the temperatures cool and become inconsistent, there are fewer hours of daylight meaning there is less photosynthesizing going on, and the humidity in the air is lower, all requiring less water and no fertilization for your plants.
Below we dive into the details that will help your plants thrive throughout their dormant period, even though their growth will be slowing down.
Lighting - sunlight during winter months is less intense, lower in the sky, and daylight hours are decreased. This will mean that plants need to be moved closer to a window to gain similar sun exposure that they did during the summer months. With fewer hours of sunlight that is less intense, plants will also take longer to dry out between waterings.
Watering - recommended watering for most tropical houseplants is when the top 1-3” of soil is dry to the touch or every 7-10 days. During the winter months when plant growth slows, the water requirements decrease to when the soil is nearly completely dry to the touch or every 21-30 days. While it is important to allow plants to dry out more during the winter months, it is important to keep an eye on furnace or fireplace use as this can pull moisture out of the soil faster, which will further stress a dormant tropical plant.
Boosting the humidity in your home can also benefit your tropical house plants during winter months. Humidity can be achieved in a number of ways. You can group multiple plants together or in a specific area of your home to increase water vapor exhalation, thus creating an overall more humid environment for your plants. You can place pebble trays with water underneath your potted plants, just ensure that the pot is not actively soaking in the water as this will lead to the root system absorbing too much water. Lastly, you can mist your plants with a spray bottle or use a humidifier.
Drafts & Fluctuating Temperatures - the winter months can bring cool drafts near windows and doors, as well as the extended use of furnaces or fireplaces. Indoor plants are sensitive to drafts on either extreme and it is important to ensure that cold or hot drafts are not impacting them. If you live in climates where there can be severe cold weather, it is important to make sure that the environment for the indoor plants does not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
Maintenance - similar to watering reduction, indoor tropical plants do not need fertilizer during the winter months. Because the plants have entered dormancy and are not actively growing, you can hold off on fertilizing or any soil boosting nutrients until the spring. We recommend fertilizing once a month from April - October.
Pests tend to subside during the cooler months, however plant owners should never completely let their guard down when it comes to these pesky critters. Pests are completely natural and part of the plant owning process, similar to how fleas are part of the pet owning process. Preventative measures are the strongest measures, so make sure to continue to wipe your plants leaves clean to ensure they can absorb all the light they can and to remove any open invitations for pests to move in.
If you are moving your plants from outdoors to indoors for the winter months, we recommend thoroughly inspecting your plants, particularly focusing on the underside of leaves, at the base of the plant near the soil, and inspecting the soil for any larvae or adult pests. A solid spray down with a hose will ensure that any stragglers are taken care of and we suggest a preventative spritz with an all year round solution. We recommend the Espoma Insect Control Spray that we carry in our downtown Napa location.
Mosquito bits are also useful during the winter months when plant owners tend to overwater as they try to gauge how much longer their plants take to dry out. With consistently moist soil comes fungus gnats, which can be combated with a small sprinkle of mosquito bits that are activated when you water over them, killing the mature fungus gnats and their larvae.
We hope these tips serve you well during the dormant months ahead. If you have any questions you can always reach on social media, email, or in-person at the shop!
1300 1st Street Suite 355
Napa California 94559
PHONE: (707) 637-4388
*In the alleyway in-between Eikos and Copperfield books.
ROOTED IN NAPA
Riza (noun); Greek for ‘Roots’. Riza’s mission is to connect people through plants. We handpick the highest quality plants, ceramics, and indoor garden supplies for our customers, and consider ourselves a hub for all things relating to indoor plants. Whether you want to connect more with nature, brighten up your living space, or learn about caring for your new indoor plant, we take the time to work with your skill level and environment to find the perfect piece of greenery.