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Winter Houseplant Care

We’re always trying to learn more about our plant friends; their likes, dislikes, what makes them happy, and what makes them inexplicably wither seemingly overnight.  Whether you’re a novice, a hopeful, or know a thing or two about keeping your plants alive and happy, we want to help!

Since the wonderful addition of our friends Bright Indirect Light Social Club aka BILSC aka Party Plant People, we’ve been loving the flood of information, enthusiasm, and all things plants that have become such a big part of what we do here at Kindred.  Matt and Kim have brought their affinity for houseplants and their expertise in their care to their plants, all of us, all of you, and it’s been nothin’ but up since they’ve been around.

This week we want to dive right in and talk about some basics for how to look after your plants in the wintertime.  If you didn’t already know, plants have different needs based on their type, the season, location, and many other factors.  There’s endless things to learn!  Your pals need different things to help them get through the fall and winter, despite living in an indoor environment.

First, let's talk about humidity.  As the drier winter air affects us, it also affects our plants!  Maintaining proper humidity is essential to keeping your plants happy and healthy.  With the heat in our homes humming along to keep us warm, it is drying out the air in our homes, decreasing the amount of moisture in the air that your plants depend on.  

How to fix it: You can add and maintain humidity in a few different ways. You can run a humidifier on a timer-a few hours a day is great.  They’ll love it and so will your tired ass winter skin.  (It’s okay, us too.)  You can (and should) group your plants together, as they create their own ambient humidity when placed close to one another.  Also, a small tray filled with pebbles and water that your plant(s) can rest on will release humidity into the immediate atmosphere as the water evaporates, keeping your plant hydrated, not overwatered, and stoked.

Speaking of overwatering– you best not be! Cutting back on watering through the colder months is typical and necessary. Most houseplants either enter a phase of dormancy, or grow *very* slowly, if at all.  It is important to pay attention to how often you water your plant friends in the warmer months, and recognize that they just don’t need all that when it's colder outside.  Dial back accordingly.  

You’ll generally be watering every two(ish) weeks where you were watering weekly in the warmer months.  Keep in mind that these are general approximations, too.  Some plant parents swear by their watering schedule, and seem quite rigid about keeping it to the day.  We’re proponents of learning each plant’s individual needs, and training your senses to respond to what those needs are.  It’ll make you a better plant parent in the long run to train yourself to key in on what your plants need and reading the signs they offer, rather than relying on the day on your calendar.  There are tools that can help in this process, too.  We love the Classy Casita Moisture Meter that tells you when to water based on moisture levels in the soil. Moral of the story: water less in the winter. Stop drowning your plants when it's so cold outside. This also holds true for fertilizing! Generally, cut back by about half, keep an eye out for what your plants are telling you, and adjust accordingly.

You may also discover that some plants are stoked in one spot and have suddenly become less so in the last few months.  Be sure to move your friends if they need to be moved this winter.  Keep your plants away from areas that are in the path of HVAC vents, drafts, open windows, etc.  The harsh and constant fluctuations in temperature are hurting your plants and that hurts our hearts.  Put all those starts and small babies back in the windowsills after spring begins and it warms up, they hate the winter drafts as much as you do.

To belabour the point: it's wintertime.  Don’t expect that your plant friends will be doing a lot of active growing, especially in comparison to the warmer months. As previously mentioned, some plants go through a period of dormancy where their needs are few and far between.  You may still see some growth, especially if you use grow lights in your home (more on that in a minute), but adjust your expectations and know that your plants are as tired as you are, and they’re taking it slow til the sun shines again.  Be patient with your plants. (And like, be patient with yourself too. It's been hard out there lately.)

If you’re able and you want to really help your plants through the darkness of the season, grow lights are where it’s at, y’all.  They come in many shapes and sizes, at price points for every budget.  We have the Vita LED bulbs from Soltech that screw into any traditional light fixture and come in black or white as well as the Soltech pendant lights for larger spaces. Their glow is actually quite inviting, and they keep your plants loving life indoors, no matter how dark and dreary it is outside.  

Plants require the regular light to mimic the daylight they are otherwise missing (see: photosynthesis). To achieve this, setting your grow lights on timers is an excellent way to idiot proof your plant care routine against yourself. (Juuuust speaking from experience.)  In the winter, having them operational 12 hours on, 12 hours off is optimal, though anywhere from 6+ hours on is good. Any light is better than no light, especially when it is this dark outside.  

We just wanted to address some of the basics, but obviously, the plant world is ripe with fellow enthusiasts eager to help you succeed in keeping your plants alive. As it is safe to, Bright Indirect Light Social Club hosts a Calathea Killers Support Group here at Kindred on a monthly basis. We commiserate our plant parent failures, exchange care tips, and Matt offers his sage wisdom in helping our little green friends grow big and strong.  We cancelled January’s event for safety reasons, but are looking forward to hosting again in February.  

Please don’t hesitate to stop in and ask us any and all questions you might have about your plant friends.  While none of us are as knowledgeable as Matt and Kim, we are trying and learning right alongside you.  Plants! Hell yeah!

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