9 Houseplant Mistakes to Avoid in Winter - Backyard Boss
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9 Houseplant Mistakes to Avoid in Winter

As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, it’s time to start thinking about protecting houseplants from the cold weather. Unfortunately, many gardeners make common mistakes that can end up harming their plants. 

Learn about some of the most common houseplant mistakes people make in winter and how to avoid them. If you’re worried about your plants’ safety during this chilly season, read on for helpful tips!

1) Misunderstanding Lighting and Watering Relationship

green house plants by window in winter
Image credits: Maya Kruchankova via Shutterstock

One of the most common mistakes people make when growing houseplants is that they don’t understand the relationship between lighting and watering. Most plants need bright, indirect light to thrive, which can be tricky to provide in the home. 

Just like humans need food to survive, plants need light to survive. The amount of light your houseplant receives will determine its growth rate. The higher the sunlight, the higher the growth. Although, make sure you read up on your specific plant varieties as some thrive in the dark corners of your home. 

Most gardeners tend to miss the fact that higher light consumption by house plants results in high water intake. This means that in summer where there is more sunlight, plants will need more water to balance things out and vice versa.  

Also, If you don’t have direct sunlight, you may also try indoor lighting or grow lights. This winter, remember to cut back on watering your plant babies!

2) Watering With a One-Size-Fits-All Care Approach

Potted Green Indoor Plants
Image credits: Huy Phan via Pexels

When watering houseplants, you can not treat all of them the same way. Different plants have different watering needs, and using the same method can do more harm than good. 

For example, succulents and cacti need very little water, and overwatering these plants can lead to root rot and fungal growth. On the other hand, plants native to tropical regions, such as ferns and palms, need more frequent watering. 

Tropical plants prefer humid conditions, so letting them dry out too much can damage their leaves. The best way to water your houseplants is to check the soil before watering. If the top inch of soil is dry, then it’s time to water your plants.

3) Using Fertilizers

Pachyphytum oviferum succulent plant growing in pot placed on windowsill
Image credits: Hanbo Wang via Pexels

A small amount of fertilizer is good, but too much fertilizer for a house plant is a bad call. Applying fertilizer too often or too high of a concentration can damage plants, resulting in problems such as yellow leaves, stunted growth, and root burn. In extreme cases, it can even kill the plant.

Only by giving plants the right kind of fertilizer with the correct portion sizes can you help ensure their health for years to come. But during the winter most plants go through a dormant period where fertilizing may not be unnecessary. Always do your research on your specific plants to know what is best .

4) Not Looking Out for Compact Soil

person repotting houseplant
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Most people tend to ignore dense and closely-packed soil. Compacted soil can quickly become waterlogged, preventing roots from getting the oxygen they need to grow. 

In addition, compacted soil is more likely to harbor pests and diseases, which can damage or kill plants. For these reasons, it is essential to aerate compacted soil before planting house plants. It’s also a good idea to go around your house and aerate your houseplants frequently when they are potted. An easy way to do this is by poking at the soil with a chopstick. 

This can be done with a garden fork or tiller and will help ensure that your plants get the best possible start.

5) Leaving Dust on the Leaves

Cleaning the leaves of hoya
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Dust can clog a plant’s pores, preventing it from taking in the oxygen and water it needs to survive. Over time, this can lead to severe damage and even death. By having a layer of dust on your houseplant foliage, your stopping the plant from carrying out photosynthesis. 

This is why wiping down your plants regularly with a damp cloth is essential. This will help remove dust build-up and keep your plants healthy and happy.

6) Wrong Placement of Plants

Variety Of Green-leafed Plants
Image credits: Huy Phan via Pexels

One common mistake is when gardeners put houseplants too close to heating vents or windows. While the extra warmth may benefit some plants, others will suffer from the drafts. 

In addition, plants that are close to windows can be injured by cold damage. To avoid this move your plants away from the window about two feet.  

By giving them the right amount of light and heat, you’ll create a perfect space for them to grow.

7) Over Watering

Close-Up Shot of a Hand Watering Plant
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When watering your house plants, more is not always better. Overwatering is one of the most common ways that people kill their houseplants. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, which prevents the plant from taking up water and leads to wilting leaves or sometimes disease.

This is why it is essential to strike a balance and avoid overwatering your houseplants.

8) Under Watering

person watering green houseplant at home
Image credits: Teona Swift via Pexels

One of the most important things to remember when caring for houseplants is never to let them go too long without water. While it may seem like they can get by on very little, the reality is that even a short drought can cause irreparable damage. 

The roots of the plant are responsible for drawing up water and nutrients from the soil, so when they become dried out, the plant will quickly deteriorate. The leaves will lose their color and begin to drop off.

This is why it’s essential to water them adequately, but make sure you don’t go overboard. Creating a watering schedule can be very helpful for forgetful gardeners. 

9) Avoid Containers Without Drainage Holes

Exotic Philodendron houseplants plant with green and pink leaves
Image credits: Huy Phan via Pexels

Another essential thing to remember when potting plants is to ensure the container has drainage holes. Now, this isn’t just a tip for winter, this should be the case for all houseplants to avoid them sitting in standing water.

Most houseplants aren’t a fan of wet feet and making this mistake can invite pests and rot. The holes make room for excess water to drain, preventing the plant from becoming waterlogged.

With a Little Extra Care, Your Plants Will Thrive

Winter is challenging for houseplants, but they can thrive with a little extra care. Follow these tips to keep your plants healthy and beautiful all winter.

Do you have houseplants at your home? What steps do you take to look after them in winter? Share your experience in the comments!