Plants require extra care for winter months

by Amber Foley

A little water and extra care may be all plants need to survive Minnesota’s long and severe winter.
Indoor plants are indirectly affected by the falling temperatures, said Deb Brown, a horticulturist with the University Extension Service. Windows and heaters, the source of life-saving light and warmth, can also cause life-threatening damage to foliage, she warned.
Dry air from furnaces, cold areas near windows and potential pests have the most negative effects on indoor plants during the winter, she said.
“During the winter, pull your shades and drapes at night and never allow house plant leaves to touch the glass on windows,” Brown said.
The chilling glass from the windows can cause water-soaked spots on the leaves or wrinkly leaf growth.
The limited hours of daylight during the winter can also have a major effect on plants.
“Going from 17 or 18 hours of daylight during the summer to nin and a half hours during the winter plays a role in the plant’s growth,” Brown said.
Washing leaves will prevent house plants from collecting dust — another factor that limits plants’ ability to receive light, she added.
Another important factor in keeping plants healthy is to make sure they are watered properly, Brown said.
“Touch the soil; when it’s dry, it’s time to water,” she said. “Keeping plants watered properly lessens the chance of moisture stress and makes the lower humidity less of a problem.”
Mari Maack-Magnusson, an administrative assistant for Territorial Hall, said having indoor plants brings nature inside.
“During the winter your plants just need a little extra attention,” she said.
Maack-Magnusson said she changes her normal plant care routine during the winter months — she doesn’t fertilize her plants — in order to keep the plants healthy.
“It’s their rest time,” she said.
Brown agreed, advising plant owners only fertilize their plants during periods of high growth, which is uncommon for indoor plants during the winter.
Maack-Magnusson also said she doesn’t mix others plants with her own because of the potential pests which might be on the other plants.