The first frost has made its way in Ontario, which means it’s time to prepare your houseplants from the chilly weather! Like us humans, our houseplants are very sensitive to the sudden change of temperatures and reduced daylight hours. With Ontario’s harsh winter weather, this presents a challenging environment for our houseplants and ultimately affecting their health. Understanding these seasonal changes and adjusting the care for your houseplants accordingly will ensure your plants are healthy and thriving. Use these tips to winterize your houseplants to combat Ontario’s winter season.
Selecting the Right Houseplants for Winter
Over the years, the plant community has grown, and plant collecting has become increasingly popular where the most popular plants are derived in tropical climates. However, taking care of houseplants that are meant to thrive in tropical climates is very difficult to do so in Ontario. Therefore, choosing the right houseplant that can withstand our province’s weather conditions is more ideal. Consider low-lighting plants such as a snake plant (Dracaena Trifasciata), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum Aureum), and spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) as they all require minimum care during Ontario’s cold months.
Assessing Your Houseplants' Health
The first step in winterizing your houseplants is to perform a pest inspection. When the heat is turned on, spider mites and mealy bugs could appear. To ensure your houseplants are free of pests, perform a thorough inspection on both the top and bottom of the leaves. Take action as soon as you spot pests on your houseplants since they can spread to other neighbouring plants! To eliminate these pests, spraying the leaves with a dilution of insecticidal soap and giving them a deep clean shower is a great solution. Adding a pest sticker to each plant pot is another solution to maintain a fungus gnat-free environment for your plants.
The second area to inspect your plant’s health is its roots. Examining each plant to see if they need repotting is also imperative to their health. If the roots are inbound, that is usually a sign the plant needs a larger pot. If the soil is very damp it could indicate root rot, in this case you would have to cut them off. Therefore, performing a thorough scan on your houseplant could save them from future damage.
Adjusting Watering Routines
During the winter seasons, plants tend to grow at a much slower rate. Some plants may even go dormant. With the limited sunlight in the winter, plants need less water to stay alive. Therefore, cutting back on watering your plants in the winter will benefit the plant growth and decrease the chances of potential root rot. Consider slow-watering your houseplants with water globes or a drip irrigation system.
Maximizing Sunlight Exposure
With the recent daylight savings change, we are experiencing days with less sunlight. Limited sunlight during this season can set back photosynthesis – slowing down growth and metabolism. Therefore, it is important to take advantage of the current sunlight that we have. Moving your houseplants closer to the window will ensure they will catch the sun rays. If the area of your home does not receive much sunlight, consider investing in a lighting system to mimic the sunlight for your houseplants.
Temperature and Humidity Management
Dry indoor air due to heating systems can cause moisture loss in plants, leading to wilting leaves and parched soil. Since most houseplants are tropical, the ideal temperature is from 21-24 degrees Celsius. If temperatures suddenly change, your houseplants can start to stress out, causing cold damage or dry them to a crisp! One way to increase the humidity is to provide your houseplants with a humidifier. It helps if your plants are grouped together in a corner to receive this consistent humidity. Another way you can safeguard your houseplants from the cold is to keep them away from windows and doors where they could experience the cold drafts.
Fertilization Strategies for Winter
While some houseplants pause their growing period during the winter, it doesn’t mean you should completely stop fertilizing! Adding slow-release fertilizer to your houseplants is a great alternative to guarantee your plant is receiving all the nutrients, even while dormant. This process could also promote early flowering in the spring! Another option is spraying our organic bioferilizer onto the leaves of your houseplants in replacement of soil watering. This method ensures your houseplant not only receives all the nutrients, but also prevents from overwatering your plant that could lead to root rot.
Winter Pruning and Maintenance
There are days during this winter season where leaves unfortunately don’t make it through the cold. Keeping the foliage clean and cutting any yellow and/or dead leaves will ensure your plant focuses on reserving its energy, rather than trying to keep the dead leaves alive.
Winterizing Your Houseplants
Winter care for your houseplants in Ontario is not for the faint of heart! Assessing your houseplants, adjusting your water schedule, increasing light exposure and humidity, adding fertilizer, and pruning are key to winterizing your houseplants. It is imperative to maintain these practices for the overall health of your houseplant to survive the cold Ontario winter. There are a lot of benefits to caring for your houseplants especially in the wintertime, including nurturing your mental health. With all this maintenance and care, it will be spring before you know it!
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Freda is a Toronto-based social media and digital marketer. New to the plant world, she is looking forward to learning all the tips and tricks on how to keep her plant babies thriving! If she's not walking her maltipoo Leo, you can find her practising yoga or enjoying live music.