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Caring For House Plants In Winter

Taking care of houseplants in winter is a delicate endeavor. Beware of drafts, too-high or too-low temperatures and arid, winter air.

a flowered Christmas Cactus

Photo: Buttersweet

Some flowering houseplants, like the Christmas cactus, won't bloom in our over-heated winter homes.

All plants need air, but houseplants don’t get much fresh air when it is cold outdoors. Indoor plants suffer if they are too close to radiators, vents, fans or open windows because they dislike drafts: Move them back from windowpanes if it is frigid outside.

Ways To Produce Humidity In Our Dry, Winter Homes

Many of our foliage plants are native to tropical rain forests and love humidity. Here are some ways to create humidity for our houseplants (and ourselves!):

  1. If there is enough light, they thrive well in a bathroom or kitchen where steam is produced by either hot showers or cooking.
  2. Try grouping  houseplants together on a waterproof tray filled with pebbles that sit in water. Place the pots on top of the pebbles where it is dry. The water will keep the air moist and the plants happy.
  3. Home humidifiers, indoor decorative fountains and plant misters can also improve humidity levels.

Some DON’T Like It Hot

Most home temperatures are between 68 to 72 degrees and foliage plants enjoy that range. However flowering plants such as azaleas and cyclamen like cooler temperatures. Flowers on plants last longer if they are kept cooler at least part of the time, so lower the thermostat at night. Plants like gardenias and Christmas cactus won’t set buds unless they have cooler temperatures, but once buds are set they will tolerate normal indoor conditions. Withhold water from the cactus to force it into bloom.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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