Leaves yellow or drop dead — this is a subtle reaction in many houseplants as the temperature plummets. Plants are biological organisms that have evolved to harvest sunlight as their primary food source and natural heaters. With the commencement of winter, most crops naturally adapted to the equatorial belt can suffer tremendously and could mean death. They need a little assistance during these trying times, and no one wants to lose their plant, right? If you are afraid of the cold season's fatal consequences, continue reading this specially-made article as we discuss how to keep plants warm in winter.
Ways of Keeping Plants Warm in Winter
Keeping plants warm in winter is a great responsibility for someone that owns an extensive collection of cold-sensitive plants. To combat the problem, here are the possible ways:
- Reduce watering. As most plants switch to the dormancy stage, watering is deemed unnecessary or at least cut back to half or a third of its usual volume.
- Stop fertilizing. Plant food promotes new leaf growth, which is not bad. The curse starts when these new, fragile leaf blades quickly succumb to cold damage with the winter.
- Place in a warm spot. When you are cozy indoors, so are your plants. Place your plant in the living room or any insulated space, and she’ll be fine! Just protect it from being hit directly by heating radiators and fireplaces.
- Artificial illumination. Another option is to provide your plants with artificial light: fluorescent lamps are the most common solution. It will give a sufficient illumination level at a distance of no more than 15-20 cm. We recommend not using incandescent lamps, as they dimly shine and dry the air. You can turn on the additional light with the onset of darkness for 2-3 hours.
- Cover plants. Putting old blankets or plastic sheets at the coldest point of the night or placing soil mulches on the pot are possible ways to cover your plants. This would trap the heat while protecting them from chilly winds; just make sure to unwrap them during the day.
- Insulation. Small and medium-sized pots can be warmed up by placing them in larger pots with previously added foam on the bottom. The remaining free space on the sides can also be filled with foam, old newspapers, dry grass, or leaves. You can put sawdust or leaves on the ground - this way, the heat inside will remain longer. To make the pot look more appealing, you can wrap it in fabric or burlap and tie it with ribbons.
- Cluster plants. Two elements are conserved here: heat and humidity. The leaves and dense canopy should hold more air, moisture, and heat as they are closely packed together.
- Humidity. During the heating season, the air becomes arid, and the plants lack moisture. Various humidifiers will help you with this; if you do not have one, you can spray the plants several times a day. For winter, you can install plants in trays with moistened expanded clay, gravel, or pebbles or place plants nearby these constructions. It will be easier for them to maintain a humid microclimate around them.
Plant Warmer Supplies
Various supplies come in handy on how to keep plants warm, and you might need to employ one of these:
- Aluminum foil
- Bubble wraps
- Heated mats
- Heated lamps
- Chip bark
- Grass hay
How to Keep Plants Warm in the Cold Step-By-Step
“Oh no! I have no idea how to keep indoor plants warm in winter!” Chillax, we’ve got you covered! If you want to keep plants warm in winter, the following lights up your path:
Indoors make it a safe haven for plants, and the tips below on how to keep house plants warm in winter will guide you through:
- Move your plant at a distance from the windows; the leaves should at least not brush the glass.
- Place it in a room with relatively constant temperatures.
- Avoid putting it near fireplaces, heating vents, or radiators where it can get scorched.
- When ventilating the room, distance your plants from the windows.
Plants outside are highly exposed and need the most protection; hence we have listed the essential steps on how to keep outdoor plants warm in winter:
- Add thick organic mulches or make use of commercial plastic mulches to the soil to conserve and trap heat.
- If snow or frost is forecasted, throw some old blanket or fleece to cover your outdoor plants.
- Small, delicate bushes and young trees can be covered with burlap nets or plastic tarps.
- Wrap tree trunks with burlap nets using frames and stakes
As potted plants are less warmer than ground-planted plants, conserving heat takes extra effort, which includes the following:
- Know the plants in your zone that can withstand outdoors and indoors.
- Perennials that can tolerate the outside environment (roses, peonies, hibiscus) and are planted in plastic or fiberglass pots can be earthed and covered with mulch for extra warmth. Terracotta or unglazed pots should not be buried because they can crack in cold weather.
- Unearth them during spring as the temperature begins to rise.
- For tender plants, pack them closer together.
- Wrap the pots with burlaps and a plastic tarp and shelter them under a porch or improvised greenhouse.
Can Tropical Plants Survive in the Cold? How Long?
The arrival of winter is the doomsday for tropical plants. Cells begin to form ice crystals and poke through the walls as the temperature reaches subfreezing points. On the other hand, some hybrids have been bred to cope with the numbing coldness, as low as 10 °C, by crossing with their sub-tropical and temperate plant relatives. To be safe, it is crucial to not let them be exposed below 15-18 °C.
How to Keep Tropical Plants Warm in Winter
With the frigid temperatures, tropical plants can sustain irreversible damage and can even result in death. The following list is a guide on how to keep tropical plants warm in winter:
- Bring them inside. As tropical plants are perennials but often behave like annuals in temperate and subtropical climates, putting them indoors will make them stay green all year. Bright windows or glass doors are ideal places to place tropical plants while putting them close to the heat sources should be avoided.
- Keep the humidity high. Relative humidity drops as the temperature plummets. Because this element is essential in tropical plants, spray them constantly or install an air humidifier. For smaller plants, putting a glass bell chamber or used plastic bottles conserves air moisture and traps heat.
- Dig them up. Tuberous perennials may be dug if you experience snow, allowing them to stay dormant until spring. However, it would be best to just pot them and place them indefinitely indoors, with constant cozy temperatures.
- Cover with thick sheets. Some tropical plants can withstand light temperature drops, but not in the long run. Thick bed sheets or old blankets can help them stay warm.
How to Protect Trees From Freezing Temperatures?
Many trees succumb to icy winds that constantly bombard their trunk during storms. To keep them nice and happy, here’s how to keep plants warm outside:
- Wrap the trunk. Like humans, blanketing the exposed parts, such as trunks, will shield the tree from frost damage. Many materials can be used to encase it, such as commercial tree wrap, plastic tree guard, burlap nets, or old potato sacks.
- Tuck in the canopy. Keeping the leafless or evergreen canopies is recommended for young trees for at least 1-2 winters from planting. Simply enclose the entire top with plastic to protect from freeze burn, keeping them warm throughout the harsh weather. Similar materials can be used when wrapping the upper branches.
- Construct a wind barrier. Building a barrier as a plant warmer for winter, made of various porous materials like burlap, mitigates the cold damage from wind gusts to the trunk and young trees.
- Cover the roots. The plant’s anchorage organ must also stay cozy. Put a heap of shredded bark over the tree surface, making a few inches of space from the main trunk until the outer canopy level.
What Temperature Is Too Cold for Plants?
Plants have variable temperature tolerance ranges, but for most houseplants, it is safe to assume that anything 18 °C is cold for them. Modern hybrids often have lower temperature limits, while some, called microtherms, can withstand 0-14 °C.
How to Protect Plants From Cold at Night?
The best way to mitigate frost is to bring them in a greenhouse or indoors. Alternatively, cover your plants with bubble wraps, plastic tarps, mulches, old blankets, and burlap nets.
How Long Can Tropical Plants Tolerate Cold?
Tropical plants cannot last long in the cold, especially if temperatures below 15 °C are sustained. Specific plant metabolism can hardly function in the icy environment and may start to lose leaves after exposure.