With outdoor conditions turning colder, and the hours of daylight decreasing, it can be a challenge to keep tropical houseplants looking lush, during the winter months.

Try to maintain optimum light for your plants. Move sun-loving plants, such as palms and ficus varieties, close to a window. You can also increase light levels, in poorly lit locations, by adding plant grow lights.

Spot grow bulbs are available at most local hardware stores and are great for supplementing light for tropical houseplants, small herb gardens and indoor seedlings.

Reduce nutrient levels throughout winter months. In general, use the regular summer fertilizer formula and divide by four. Plants, especially in the Yukon climate, tend to become dormant during the winter months, thus requiring lower nutrient levels to maintain their natural balance.

Grotek Life is an excellent 100-per-cent organic plant fertilizer. Derived from fermented plant materials that are free from chemical contamination, Grotek’s organic fertilizers supply all the essential major and micro nutrients to the plant’s soil.

In winter months, turn down the watering. Plants require less moisture during a dormancy period. Allow the soil of tropical plants to become completely dry between watering. To encourage healthy root growth, water tropical plants through saucers at the bottom of planters.

Tropical plants love moist air and will especially benefit from a humidifier in our Northern climate. Certain plants, such as orchids and amaryllis bulbs, will experience a natural dormancy or dry period where no watering is necessary. Read up on your specific plant life cycle and care information.

If your plants have spent the summer outdoors, chances are they may have been exposed to insects. Check your plants regularly for insect problems as bug problems will spread quickly to surrounding plants. Neem oil is a great all-natural organic alternative to chemical insecticide.

Be mindful of the micro climate in your home or office. Adjusting to subtle changes in indoor temperature can be a shock to a plant’s system.

Effects of cold temperatures tend to show up slowly on the surface. Leaves may begin to curl downwards. Excess heat can also be problematic for plants. Hot, dry air through heating sources and poor ventilation can cause damage to plants. Heat stress will cause leaves to turn yellow.

Plant tips will turn dark brown and become brittle. Plant growth may become spindly or stretched. If your plant experiences these conditions, move it to a different location.

In their natural environment, most tropical plants experience temperature fluctuations between day and night. If you are used to turning down the heat at night, your plants will also enjoy a time to cool off.

Plants are a great addition to the indoor winter environment. With much of our time spent indoors during the winter months, tropical plants are also great for filtering toxins and pollutants from the environment.

On days when we would love to take off to the tropics, tropical plants in our homes and offices help us all to appreciate warmer climates.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at [email protected]