Caring for houseplants in winter

Many houseplants enter a dormant phase as light levels decrease in late autumn.  Allowing them to rest during this period will avoid putting undue strain on the plant and ensure you have healthy plants ready to start growing again in the spring.  Follow these five tips for optimum winter care.

Succulents growing in basket with poinsettia in background
Succulents growing in container in winter

1. Move into the light

Maximise the amount of light reaching your plants by moving them onto a west- or south-facing windowsill.

2. Clean leaves 

Wipe dust off leaves using a damp cloth.  This will maximise the amount of light reaching the leaf surface, thereby increasing the plant's ability to manufacture food.

3. Reduce watering 

For most houseplants, reduce watering to once every fortnight.  For succulents and cacti, watering should be even less frequent (every month). Winter-flowering plants such as Christmas cacti and poinsettias are the exception to the rule.  These plants should be watered whenever the compost beings to feel dry.

4. Keep warm 

Position plants away from cold draughts, but don't put them too close to radiators which can scorch the leaves.

5. Check for pests 

Many pests such as aphid, scale insect and mealybug thrive in an indoor environment.  Regularly checking plants and removing pests will avoid an infestation.