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End of Winter Houseplant Checkup

Posted by The Sill on

Because most common houseplants are tropical natives, winter can be a stressful season for them - even indoors. They're coping with less-than-optimal conditions like shorter days, lower natural light, and cool, dry air. Follow our tips below to help keep your houseplants happy and healthy until spring (we swear - it's coming soon!) Short on time? Scroll down for our cliff notes. 


Diagnosis: A wilting plant is usually a sign of dehydration.
Rx: Water lightly a few days in a row and see if your plant perks up. Moderation is key.


Diagnosis: Leaning to some extent is normal – indoor-plants tend to lean or stretch in the direction of the sun.
Rx: If it’s an extreme lean, or your plant is become more stem than leaves (we call this getting “leggy”), move it closer to a window, and rotate the planter weekly so all sides of the plant receive some sunlight.

Yellow Leaves

Diagnosis: Yellow leaves can be a sign of stress, or more often than not – a sign of overwatering, especially during the winter when most houseplants are semi-dormant (i.e. they don’t need nearly as much water as they do during the spring & summer months).
Rx: Give your plant a little extra TLC. Trim off any yellow foliage that doesn't look like it will bounce back (FYI: a healthy plant’s leaves can turn yellow as a part of its natural shedding process – help it along by removing those leaves). Hold off on watering again until the soil feels completely dry, and water less than you did previously.

Crispy Leaves

Diagnosis: Dry, brittle leaves that crumble when you touch them is usually a sign of under-watering and low-humidity. Is your skin feeling usually tight and dry? Chances are your plants are feeling the effects of that dry air, too.
Rx: Up the moisture and humidity of your plant's environment by misting it weekly, investing in a humidifier, or setting planters on pebble-filled trays of water (make sure they're not sitting directly in the water, but just above it on the pebbles). Again, moderation is key.

Burnt Leaves

Diagnosis: If your plant’s leaves have brown, yellow, or pale spots – too much sun could be the culprit. If the sun is strong enough to burn your skin, it’s certainty strong enough to burn your plant friend.
Rx: Move your plant further away from the window and into the room, or draw a sheer curtain.

Pale Green Growth

Diagnosis: Your plant is lacking in Vitamin D.
Rx: Pump up that sunlight! Move your plant closer to window that receives bright to moderate sunlight. If your plant has been in a dark corner for ages, do this move gradually. You don’t want to shock the little guy.

Lackluster Foliage

Diagnosis: Dusty leaves and less than great looking foliage are usually a sign of a plant's clogged pores, also called stomas. Think of the leaves of your plant like you think of your skin - if your pores are clogged, you are not going to look radiant.
Rx: Lightly mist and wipe leaves with a soft cloth whenever they’re looking dreary.

Unhealthy Growth

Diagnosis: Your plant is growing – but it doesn’t look healthy.
Rx: Because houseplants have little resources in the winter, it is best they conserve them. Too much growth during the winter can weaken a plant over time. Prune new growth to create a balance between foliage and root systems.

Winter Care CliffNotes:

  • Dust leaves with damp cloth. Accumulated dust makes breathing more difficult.
  • Humidity drops significantly. Mist your plants daily, or invest in a humidifier.
  • Change the location of your plant to maintain optimal light levels. And rotate!
  • Growth slows, so please withhold fertilizer until spring.
  • Cut back on watering (unless it’s by that crazy hot heater), and keep water tepid.


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