Winter Care For Indoor Plants

A few nights ago, the warning alarm on my husband’s cell phone pulled me from a deep sleep.  I blinked at the clock (3 a.m.), slowly realizing that sirens were shrieking in the darkness outside.  The wind was hissing past our house with unnatural speed.  Tim checked his phone – a tornado warning for Nashville proper.

No basement.  No friends with basements. Crap.

I hunkered in the claw foot tub for an hour, listening to the weather radio until the storm passed on.  Luckily the house and neighborhood were fine, a few downed branches and a story to tell at work.  But two days later I woke up to a powdery, Nebraska-like snow covering my car.  The nearby elementary school was canceled for a snow day, though that afternoon I could have laid out in the yard to tan.

Two days after the tornado warning, my yard is a snowy wonderland for the first time this winter. Weather is weird.

Two days after the tornado warning, my yard is a snowy wonderland for the first time this winter. Weather is weird.

What I’m saying is this — weather patterns are unpredictable, even in the most predictable of environments.  Despite maintaining (in theory) a standard indoor temperature, inside plants are affected by the changing seasons too. Most plants hate the cold and despise low light.  I moved to Tennessee with five plants in tow.  Two of them are still alive, and it’s been musical chairs trying to find each plant’s happy spot.


  1. Airplane Plant
Airplane Plant

Airplane Plant

I received my Airplane plant as a cutting from my mom, who cares for a dinosaur-sized Grandmother Willow type back on the ranch.  For the first few years, my Airplane plant couldn’t help itself – it grew, thrived, multiplied like it didn’t know any other way of being.  I had to trim it every few months to prevent owning my own dinosaur.   When I moved to Nashville, I was surprised to see it wilt and regress.  I kept in on my bedroom dresser for the first month and decided it needed a change when several leaves started turning brown.  The airplane plant needed more light, so I moved it to the laundry room window.  It perked up immediately.

2. Philodendron

(Type of) Philodendron

(Type of) Philodendron

My husband received this Philodendron from a Jesuit, who in turn received it from a summer conference and couldn’t take it home with him.  The Philodendron has been a happy camper in the dim, bedroom corner where I placed it temporarily until I could find a more permanent plant solution.  No fuss, regular water, and content to live in a cooler house climate with low light. (Unlike my other three plants, which promptly died in protest.)

Failure To Thrive:

I planted a basil and tomato plant in small planters to keep indoors over the winter.  I kept them in the laundry room near a window, but it was too cold for either to thrive.  Misinterpreting the basil and tomato’s inability to grow past 1.5 inches as a reaction to poor sunlight, I tried to transfer them to the outdoor cold frame. Boom! Dead. Temperature was the problem, not light.  Lesson learned for next winter.

Experiment #1: Tomato and Basil in the Cold Frame (With the Lettuce) = Boom, Dead.

Experiment #1: Tomato and Basil in the Cold Frame (With the Lettuce) = Boom, Dead.

During my last year of college I lived in an apartment that had an entire wall of windows.  My living room overflowed with a dozen or more house plants that loved the winter sunlight.  My Nashville home has smaller, poorly place windows and, now that I’m paying for my heat, a cooler climate.

Next winter I’ll be buying Pepermonia, Dieffenbachia, and Snake Plant for the house.  All three thrive on low light and a 60• climate.  Lucky for me, two of these three plants (Snake Plant and Pepermonia) are alive in my parent’s house, left over from my college years.  Just as long as they can survive the drive from NE to TN…

Happy Sunday! Cowgirl boots and Cleaning for this girl :)

Happy Sunday! Cowgirl boots and cleaning for this one :)


2 responses to “Winter Care For Indoor Plants

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