How to Keep Plants Alive During Winter: Top Tips for Helping Your Indoor and Outdoor Plants Thrive

January 27, 2023

“Winter is coming, we know what’s coming with it. We can learn to live with the wildlings, or we can add them to the army of the dead.”

Even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, when it comes to our wild, little house plants, the sentiment remains the same; we can let them die, or learn to live with them.

We vote to let the wildlings — or in this case, your house plants — live on!

In this guide, we’ll give you all the tips and tricks on how to keep house plants alive during winter and what you need to do to prepare your outdoor plants for colder weather.

Table of Contents

  • 8 Tips on How to Keep Indoor Plants Alive During Winter
  • How Do I Protect My Outdoor Plants in the Winter?
  • 3 Tips on How to Keep Outdoor Plants Alive During Winter
  • Visit Botanica Floral+Home in Portland for All Your Floral Needs

8 Tips on How to Keep Indoor Plants Alive During Winter

If you’re like many people, you probably dread spending money on houseplants just to watch them wither and die come the colder months of winter.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. While it may seem like a lot, these few simple tips will help your plants survive the winter and eventually thrive again come spring.

So, if you’re hoping for happy, healthy houseplants this winter, keep reading and we’ll show you exactly how to keep plants alive during winter.

Click here to shop for flower delivery for Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!

#1: Cut the Water

Counterintuitive, right? A plant looks droopy and we instantly think, “Give it water!”

But, in the winter months, too much water can lead to root rot, mold, fungus, and other weird stuff you don’t want to have to worry about.

Your plants hibernate in the winter, meaning that they become dormant. They’ll have less light, which means they won’t grow as much and therefore require less water to survive.

Follow the same rule of thumb when it comes to watering and check to make sure that the soil is dry about an inch to two inches below the surface before adding water. And when you do, use warm (not hot) water in the winter to promote growth.

If you’re accustomed to watering once a week or so, carry on with your current rhythm. Just be prepared to water at about 25-50% of your usual amount.

#2: Skip the Fertilizer

Plants get lazy in the winter, but hey, who doesn’t? Some plants (mainly the tropical varieties) go into a state of semi-dormancy or dormancy, meaning they do everything at a slower pace — even growing.

Because your plants will be feeling sleepy during the winter, there’s no point in fertilizing them because they simply don’t need it.

#3: Crank the Heat

Many plants don’t like cold air, and since you can’t exactly wrap your plants in a scarf and mittens, you’ll have to be mindful of the indoor temperature of your home.

One way to ensure the temperature of your home stays consistent is to ensure you have all of your windows properly sealed. Plants love natural light, but they definitely don’t want to be dealing with your drafty windows all winter long.

We want our plants to be cozy, but not hanging by the fireplace kind of cozy, so move your plants out of the way of any radiators, electric heaters, or fireplaces in your home.

And lastly, try to maintain a daytime temperature of about 65-75°F and a nighttime temperature of no less than 50°F.

If you have tropical plants, be careful to never let the temperature drop below 40°F. 

#4: Let There Be Light

Clean, bright windows are key to a plant’s winter survival. Make sure to keep your plants close to windows that let in a lot of light.

And keep those windows clean! Anything that blocks out what little lights your plants get in the shorter days of winter can impede their chances for success.

Be sure to double-check for cracks, drafts, or cold spots before placing a plant next to any window.

#5: Up the Humidity

The winter months tend to be quite a bit drier, with humidity levels dropping as low as 10% in colder climates. This means you will have to compensate for the lack of humidity if you want to keep your plants satisfied.

Here are a few ways to keep your plants happily humidified:

  • Give them a daily misting
  • Run a humidifier while you’re out of the house
  • Tent them under a miniature greenhouse made from a big plastic bag
  • Fill a shallow tray with gravel and water and set the plant inside the tray

An ideal humidity level for houseplants is between 40% and 50%.

#6: Give ‘em a Bath

Cleanliness is next to godliness… or, so they say. Your plants are no different! If you want your plants to thrive this coming winter, then keep the little buggers dust-free.

Since they’re already getting less light than they’re used to, anything that gets in the way of the few rays of sunshine they do get can greatly impede their chance for survival.

Every couple of weeks, take a few minutes to rid your plants of those pesky dust-bunnies that winter is known for. They’ll not only look and feel better, but happy plants will help you feel better too!

#7: Skip Repotting

As you now know, your plant’s growth slows down during the winter months (November to February), so repotting your plants during this time may cause a shock they can’t recover from.

The beginning of Spring, March or April, is the ideal time of year to repot plants since they’ll be actively growing again and can easily recover from transplant shock. 

However, if your plant is noticeably outgrowing the pot or the soil has completely degraded, then you may just have to repot your plant before winter ends to avoid stunting its growth.

#8: Bug Off!

You heard us right. Get those bugs off your plants! 

Little black bugs, known as fungus gnats, are usually found buzzing above your plants. These bugs are especially bad for younger plants because their larvae feed on the plant’s roots, causing serious damage.

Here’s how to tell if you have a fungus gnat infestation:

  • Your plant looks like it has root rot
  • The lower leaves turn yellow and fall off
  • Your plants growth slows or completely stops; or
  • The entire plant is wilted

Severe cases of fungus gnat infestation can cause the death of your plants. So how do you get rid of these pesky little bugs?

First things first, you can take measures to prevent fungus gnat damage, such as:

  • Letting your soil dry out between waterings (the gnats seek out moist soil to lay their eggs)
  • Use a mosquito dunk 
  • Cover the drainage holes so the gnats don’t lay their eggs at the openings; and
  • Cover the soil with a layer of sand so the gnats can’t access the soil to lay eggs

However, if you think you already have a fungus gnat problem, here’s what you can do to get rid of them:

  • Make a sticky card trap that the gnats will fly into and get stuck
  • Use a cider-vinegar trap to lure the gnats away from your plant; or
  • Hang some flypaper (although this might be a little bit extreme if you’re only worried about a few gnats)

If you’re still concerned about the health of your houseplants during the winter months, then give us a call at Botanica Floral +Home

We’ve been servicing the Portland area since 2008 as the top choice for plants, floral arrangements, corporate services, and more. We’d be happy to share our knowledge and expertise and help you choose the plants that won’t just survive the winter, but thrive with the right care.

Click here to shop for flower delivery for Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!

How Do I Protect My Outdoor Plants in the Winter?

Outdoor plants require some preparation to survive the coldest months of winter. Make sure to water the plants thoroughly then cover them with mulch to help retain warmth and moisture. Delicate plants should be enclosed, moved, or covered to prevent frost damage.

3 Tips on How to Keep Outdoor Plants Alive During Winter

#1: Water Before Frost

Before winter weather hits, giving your plants a deep watering about once a week, or a few days leading up to the first frost will help to insulate the plants. 

The water helps the plants regulate the temperature difference between the soil and the plant’s roots. 

However, water freezes, so you’ll want to make sure to put down some sort of ground cover to keep the soils moist and not frozen.

#2: Surround With Mulch

After a good watering, add a ground cover such as mulch, straw, or cottonseed.

Adding mulch insulates the soil against the harsh weather and locks the moisture in. All you need is a couple of inches of your chosen mulch and it will go a long way in keeping your outdoor garden from dying in the winter.

If you plan to remove the mulch in the spring, then something like pine straw is advised as the cleanup is easier.

While more expensive, permanent mulch is widely available and gives your garden an aesthetic appeal. A popular product is a colored bark that has been shredded, chunked, or ground.

#3: Tuck Them In

Baby, it’s cold outside! So, wrap those plants up in a blanket of their own to keep them out of the elements.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money and time to get your plants wrapped up tight for their winter nap.

Using a metal or wooden stake, you can cover your plants with fabric, such as:

You can go the extra mile and wrap the fabric sheets in plastic to help keep moisture and warmth in, but don’t use plastic on its own.

Visit Botanica Floral+Home in Portland for All Your Floral Needs

For more information on how to keep plants alive during winter, visit Botanica Floral+Home in Portland.

Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are always happy to share their best secrets to plant success, whatever the conditions or situation.

From houseplants to weddings to corporate events and office space illumination, our team has experience caring for every type of plant in every different circumstance — you can count on us for all of your plant-related needs.

Give us a call, or better yet, stop by the shop! We’d love to see you and we’re sure we can help you with all your plant concerns and questions.

Click here to shop for flower delivery for Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!