Indoor Flora in the Winter Months


We have plants everywhere in our 100-year-old house — mainly on the third floor, where there are three large skylights plus north- and south-facing windows and even a small window facing east. There is so much light up there and the plants love it so much that it’s beginning to look a lot like a jungle! But the rest of our house is pretty full of greenery as well. It’s one of the first things people comment on when they come into our home for the first time, so I thought I’d do a post about keeping plants alive and healthy (especially in the darker winter months).

For five years, we’ve had the same succulents on a rolling cart on our landing, which happens to have huge floor-to-ceiling east-facing windows. It’s a spot that gets good morning sun, but not intense direct light. Most indoor plants do not do well with too much direct light. It can burn their leaves and dry things out too fast. I water these guys about once every week (or two weeks, more often). I water an amount that will soak them and leave a bit of water in the clear trays underneath them. *It is very important to get pots with drainage holes in the bottom. I have tried ones without and fail every time, no matter what the type of plant. Drainage is very important. DSC_0009DSC_0013

In the winter months, it’s really fun for kids to grow flowers inside. These marigolds have been going strong, continuing to bloom and re-bloom since Thanksgiving! Milo planted them from seeds and we keep the soil moist. They are in a south-facing window which gets a lot of direct sunlight (flowers typically need plenty of direct sunlight, just like the veggies we grow in our garden). DSC_0066

We tried our luck with a fiddle-leaf fig (shown above, left) and it has doubled in size since I picked it up a year ago. It will be ready for a bigger pot soon. One tip I’d like to share is that you will have the best luck with plants grown at a professional nursery rather than a place like Home Depot or Lowes. In the past, I’ve tried to save money by buying plants from these places, but they always end up dead long before their time. They are often diseased or malnourished. Go to your local nursery and ask the people who work there to help you choose something — they really do know what they are talking about, and can often give great suggestions or advice about growing plants indoors. Plus, if you go in the winter, the greenhouses are warm and humid and remind me of summer. It’s like a breath of fresh air. DSC_0015

Air plants are also a good thing! They need to be soaked in a glass or bowl of water, completely submerged, for about 20 minutes once a week. I usually set a timer and do this while I’m cooking dinner so I don’t forget and let the thing drown. I love air plants because you can get creative with whatever vessel you choose to put them in. This one is hanging in our living room (a room that doesn’t get a whole lot of light, so we’re testing it out) in a beautiful glass globe a friend got me for my birthday. I love the color and shape of it. DSC_0042DSC_0005

Because our living room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, I’ve resorted to fresh flowers. It really cheers things up and I think it’s worth it if you can find them for cheap. Trader Joe’s sells calla lilies for $6 per bunch and they can last for up to two weeks if you keep the water fresh. Totally worth it! DSC_0002DSC_0004

These spray roses are also from Trader Joe’s, same price. I fancied them up by putting them in a short glass of water, then inside this brass vessel that I found antiquing.

If you love plants but don’t have a very light and bright house, or aren’t sure if you’re going to kill them, I suggest changing how you think about indoor plants. I read once that if you think about a small house plant as just a bunch of flowers that last a bit longer, you can get over the guilt you feel if the plant doesn’t make it in the long run. Toss it into the compost and try again with a different variety.

And if all else fails… go outside! DSC_0018DSC_0020

Happy growing!

9 thoughts on “Indoor Flora in the Winter Months”
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  1. I love our fiddle leaf fig – and I agree, it’s completely worth it to go to a local nursery that only does plants. We got ours at Rolling Ridge Nursery in Webster Groves. I wanted a tall, tree like shape and they took notes on what I wanted and within a few weeks, they called and told me they had three in for me to choose from. Ours is probably seven-eight feet tall now, maybe higher. Our ceilings are 11′, so I’m hoping that it will touch the ceiling eventually and then grow across the ceiling!

    One of the things I’m most excited about with our new addition is all the light we’ll have – I plan to fill it to the brim with plants, and hopefully more edible ones as well!

    Stay warm!

  2. As much as I love our house/neighborhood, the mature trees in our south-facing front yard, and the close-quarters of our small city lot, means that we don’t get a lot of natural light, so my plants have definitely struggled here! I like the idea of thinking of them like fresh flowers, and I’ve taken a few to my office where they do well (I have to relocate them to another office during the summer months, but it’s worth the hassle).

  3. I can’t survive winter without plants! I’ve for some reason had good luck with my Ikea Fiddle-leaf and Bird of Paradise. I just read this though and realized I am watering my air plant wrong- I just run it under the faucet haha. It’s still alive but probably thirsty.

  4. Kristen — my advice for a fiddle leaf fig is to keep it in indirect bright light, to water once a week and let the soil dry out between waterings, and in the winter, allow it about 30 minutes of direct sunlight since the sunlight is generally less intense during winter months. If you see leaves beginning to yellow, that generally means not enough sunlight, or you are overwatering. Get a small one to see if it likes your house, and go from there. Plus, the plants that you grow from teeny tiny feel like your babies, and it’s fun to see them take over once they are happy!

  5. Love all your plant life! Immalways impressed with air ferns, and haven’t ever had one.

    I’m right on the same page, I can’t live without plants. We actually have two aloe plants that are dying right now… I have to do some research and figure out what’s up. I don’t understand people who don’t love having plants in every space. For me, it’s right up there with operable windows.

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