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Winter Care of Your House Plants

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/25/2006 | Gardening
Many people do not realize that house plants need extra care in the winter. Some plants may go dormant for a short while but others just need a little TLC.

If your house plant lives in a sunny window, you may want to move it 6" from the window. One touch of your fingers to that window glass will tell you just how cold it is outside. Any leaves in constant contact with that cold will not do well at all. Your house plants can be decimated by a cold draft as well.

The air in your house becomes dry in the winter from running your heater. Doesn't your own skin feel a little dry? The answer is not to water more often although you may need to do that also. The real answer is to mist the plant at least once a day.

It is important that your house plant leaves are clean.

Before you start misting those plants, be sure you gently dust the leaves. Smooth leaves can be dusted with a soft cloth - no furniture polish please. Fuzzy leaves such as the African Violet can be dusted with a small paint brush.

Plants breathe through their leaves and a layer of dust can be suffocating. Plants really should have their leaves dusted at least once a week. Hanging plants like the beautiful Spider do well with a monthly shower to clean their leaves. Make sure you use a gentle spray of water. Philodendron leaves can be cleaned with a solution of milk and water - very light on the milk. It will make the leaves shine.

If you have the space try putting a layer of rock in a pan - an old cake pan or pizza pan - fill the pan with water and set your house plants on top of the rocks. Instant humidity. If you don't have space for a pan, set out some decorative vases filled with water.

You may just find that your own skin is feeling a little less dry.

Check the light your house plant is receiving. Days are shorter and you may need to supplement with artificial light if your plants are looking a little SAD.

All plants need a resting period so stop the fertilizer for a couple of months. Trim off any yellowing leaves.

Now is also a good time to start thinking about new pots for the spring. You don't want a root bound plant. Without the natural interaction that outside plants get, house plants can become impacted in the dirt.