The weather changes in fall can be dramatic from day to night. If you’re reaching for moisturizer and an extra layer, you can bet your plant needs a little extra care, too. Modifying light and watering frequency, and bringing plants indoors that spent the summer outside, will make the transition in a transitional season as smooth as possible.
Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to your houseplants this fall:
1. Bring houseplants back indoors
If you moved any of your plants outside for the summer, it’s about time to bring them back indoors. You’ll want to move houseplants back inside before temperatures dip below 55°F (12.5°C) at night. Before the move, carefully check your plants for pests they might have picked up outside. If you have a garden hose, give them a thorough shower and once dry, spray their leaves with diluted neem oil or similar. If a plant didn’t exactly survive the season, it’s OK to let it go. There are plenty of other plants to add to your sill.
2. Keep light levels up
Pay close attention to the light your plants are getting. In the fall, the days are shorter and the angle of the sun is changing. Some of your indoor plants might need to sit in a new place to get a comparable amount of sunlight as they did in spring and summer. You might want to group your succulents together on the windowsill rather than on your coffee table for example. Rotating your plants once a week helps to ensure all sides are covered and your plant won’t lean one way or another.
If your home is lacking in natural sunlight, especially during the colder months, don’t worry: you can always add a grow light to keep your plants thriving no matter the time of year.
3. Water less often
You’ll find yourself needing to water less often as the days get shorter. Your houseplants are getting less light and growing more slowly. Some may even go dormant or semi-dormant come winter. For example, a succulent snake plant might need to be watered every six weeks in the fall, compared to every three weeks in the summer. Always check your plant’s potting mix to make sure it’s dry before watering.
4. Increase humidity levels
The air indoors tends to be drier, especially during the fall and winter when heating units may be turned on. Consider investing in a humidifier to increase the humidity for you and your plants. Many common houseplants are tropical plants that prefer a humid environment. Plus, humidifiers are great for the air we breathe and good for our skin, too. You can also increase humidity for houseplants by grouping them together, using pebble trays and glass domes, or double-potting plants.
Make sure to avoid any extreme changes in temperature—don’t put your houseplants near or on top of the radiator, or in places there might be a cold draft, like next to a front door. Sudden hot and cold drafts can stress plants out.
5. Forgo the fertilizer
Foliage growth slows down considerably during the fall and winter months so you can pause fertilizing until next spring, the start of the growing season. Give your houseplants the essentials—light and water—to sustain them through winter, but don’t fuss over them or you might kill them with kindness.
6. Expect foliage dieback
When bringing houseplants from the great outdoors back to your living room—or bedroom or bathroom or kitchen—they may begin to drop their leaves. This is perfectly normal, as they are adjusting to the lower light levels indoors. Don’t fret! Even if your plants stayed inside all summer, this can happen. Less light equals less energy to sustain all their summer foliage. You can give your plants a hand by pulling off a few mature leaves that seem to be on their way out.
7. Repot overgrown plants
Did your houseplants grow in the spring and summer? Chances are, they did. If your plants need more space, now is a good time to repot them into slightly larger planters. For how to know if your plant needs to be repotted—and how to do it—check out our Repotting Guide.
8. Have fun with it
Fall is a great time to tap into your inner interior designer. Always dreamed of installing floating shelves, hanging baskets, or ceiling hooks? Now is the time—just make sure your DIY project can hold your houseplant after a thorough watering!
Words By The Sill
Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.