Local News

February 4, 2013

Caring for houseplants in winter takes some effort

PLATTSBURGH — Houseplants are often a popular holiday gift, but they bring with them the need for proper care during the winter months if they are to survive into spring.

It is not that difficult to successfully care for a houseplant, but it does take a conscious effort and consistent strategy to help that plant survive without a lot of sunlight in a typically dry North County winter home.

“There are a few basic things that make a huge difference as to whether a plant survives, thrives or is just ‘eeh,’” said Jolene Wallace, horticulture program assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County.


“The amount of sunlight a plant receives depends on the house,” she said. “I have just one window facing south, so I don’t have a lot of bright light. Other people have a lot of south-facing windows and have more opportunity for proper amounts of sunlight.”

Since a lack of sunlight is a significant issue, it is a good idea to choose houseplants that do not require a lot of direct sunlight.

Picking the right window for your plant is also critical, said Dianne Rodgers, a master gardener for Cooperative Extension

“The sun is also not as strong in winter, so the light is weaker for photosynthesis,” Rodgers said. “Also, plants are always behind windows (during the winter), and that cuts down on the amount of light reaching them. It is very important to choose south windows rather than north windows.”

Houseplants that will do the best in northern zones typically require a lower amount of light, Rodgers noted. Most plants that are available for purchase locally during the holidays and through the winter months are species that do not require as much light, she added.

The amount of water a plant receives and the temperature of the environment the plant is in are also important factors in keeping the plant healthy, but a plant will not be as active in the winter as in summer, no matter how healthy it may be, Wallace said.

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