Winter Care for Indoor Plants
With foresight, planning, and much care, the garden plants you have brought indoors would have weathered the winter’s frost and snow. But overwintering is not an easy task. There are so many factors that could affect what some people see as a cushy job. Extremely cold and drawn-out winter spells could happen when you least expect it. The northeast could be hit one year, the northwest the next. A gardener shouldn’t fall back on routine but instead know how to adjust. The challenge lies in consistency and restraint, because you wouldn’t want your zeal in performing gardening chores to lessen your plants’ chances of lasting until spring.
One general tip that you should remember when overwintering is to avoid overwatering. With the excess moisture in the air during the cold months, overwatering your plants will do more harm than good. Check the soil between waterings and note when it’s dry. Not only is this a sign that oxygen has already penetrated to the plant’s root system, it should also be your signal that it’s ready for its next watering.
Another thing to avoid is over fertilization. In the winter when the light is low, plants will require less fertilizer, especially once they’ve been repotted and brought in for the season. Over fertilization can cause leaves to wither and dry.
Different gardeners can choose a specific kind of plant to care for during winter:
Succulents are a good choice for indoor gardening, especially during the low temperatures of winter. The cooler temperatures can stimulate bud development instead of causing it to wither, as less hardy plants would do. But remember that some cacti might still need high doses of sunlight. It is best to keep your succulents near the windows to help them get the nourishment they need.
Succulents are also better off on the dry side, so you can get away with watering them just once every a week and a half to two weeks. They don’t need fertilizer during the winter as well. Here’s a quick formula to remember: Dry + Cool + Well-Lit = Excellent Succulents.
It’s a myth that you can’t enjoy fresh herbs in the winter. With proper care, the herbs you’ve dug up to keep in handy containers will be a welcome addition to your winter meals. Rosemary, for instance, is a generally hardy plant. It likes cool temperatures and high humidity. Keeping it in a container in the kitchen is a good idea since the kitchen is one of the humid places in the house. Mist the leaves but water the soil just enough to keep it from going dry. Another good herb to bring indoors would be parsley. With enough sunlight, it can survive mild winters. Other herbs that can keep you company indoors are sage, oregano, mint, thyme, and bay.
An organic winter mulch can help protect the herbs’ roots and maintain soil temperatures at a regular level.
Winter Plants and Flowers
There is still much to be said about permanent plantings in containers. In the winter, these plants can still bring life to a room. Some plants are especially good for container gardening, including the box plant (Buxus sempervirens), which grows slowly but can be clipped to fit any shape, Helichrysum petiolare, which has silver foliage and trailing stems that can complement any garden, container or otherwise, and the bay (Laurus nobilis), with its aromatic leaves and yellow flowers. Take care not to overwater these plants during the winter. As container plants, they can be versatile enough to hide gaps or unsightly areas in the room.
Little by little, as winter gives way to spring, gardeners will find themselves ready to move from their indoor gardens back to a wider, more familiar plot. But as the cold winter days persist, be patient. There are still plenty of things to do.