What Houseplants Go Dormant in Winter? Is It Dead or Dormant?

We are in the thick of winter and probably you are wondering what to do to keep your houseplants safe and healthy during the cold season. In case you didn’t know, most plants, including houseplants, go dormant in winter.

During this period, they naturally stop growing and conserve their energy, which they use when the conditions get better. 

Here is a list of houseplants that go dormant in winter and a few tips on how to keep them alive during the cold season.

List of Houseplants that go dormant in winter

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

The Chinese evergreen, aglaonema, is one of the most popular houseplants. People love this tropical foliage plant since it is so easy to grow. 

Besides, caring for the Aglaonema plant does not require much effort, and it can withstand harsh growing conditions such as drought, poor lighting, and dry air.

The most interesting bit about Chinese evergreens is that they can go fully dormant during winter and then come back to life once you begin to water them in the spring.

Calathea Beauty Star (Calathea Ornata)

As suggested by its name, the Calathea Beauty Star is a lovely plant that you should consider growing in your house. This houseplant adds charm and splendor to any room, thanks to its vivid colors.

It is beginner-friendly and easy to maintain as long as you find the right spot for it. You can easily tell when it’s thirsty for water or when the leaves begin to curl.

They also tend to shed their leaves and go into dormancy once the cold season sets in. To ensure the plant stays alive, you only need to keep the soil moist during the winter.

You may consider using coco coir for houseplants.

Dracaena Lisa (Dracaena Massangeana)

Although quite huge, the Dracaena Lisa is another popular, low-maintenance houseplant. Its most conspicuous feature is the dark glossy foliage that spills out from the top of its slim trunk.

The only downside about this houseplant is that it doesn’t tolerate cold weather very well. For this reason, you may have a hard time keeping it alive when it goes dormant during winter. 

Placing the plant on a spot that receives medium natural light, mulching, and occasional watering every 15-30 days might go a long way to preserve the Dracaena Lisa through the winter.

Marble Queen Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)

The Marble Queen Pothos, also known as Devil Ivy, is one of the many houseplants that go dormant in winter. The plant features long vines and green leaves with yellow or white marbling. 

It thrives in low light and it doesn’t require much watering. This explains why it is one of the most popular hanging house plants. However, if you have pets, you should avoid the Devil Ivy since it is toxic to cats and dogs.

Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)

The Aloe Vera plant does not require any introductions. You can grow this famous, short-stemmed shrub indoors or outdoors, depending on your preferences. 

The plant thrives in dry conditions, meaning it can survive for ages without water. During winter, the Aloe Vera goes into dormancy, but you have to keep the temperatures above 30 degrees Fahrenheit for it to survive.

Philodendron Green Wonder

The Philodendron green wonder is a strikingly beautiful tropical houseplant that traces its roots to Central and South America. Its heart-shaped leaves make the green wonder the go-to option as far as houseplants are concerned.

What you will love the most about this plant is that it does not require too much water.

Although it goes into dormancy every winter, it only requires indirect sunlight and occasional watering to pass through the resting period.

Other popular houseplants that go dormant in winter include:

  • Alocasia Amazonica
  • Alocasia Zebrina
  • Monstera Deliciosa
  • Fiddle-leaf fig
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Snake plant

What does winter dormant mean?

Winter dormant is a phrase used to describe plants that stop growing during the winter season. The plants slow down their growth or stop growing completely when the conditions for healthy growth are limited or become unbearable. 

Poor lighting, low temperatures, and limited moisture are some of the adverse environmental conditions that could force your houseplants to go dormant. 

Going into dormancy is crucial to the survival of winter-dormant plants since it allows them to rest and conserve enough energy required for future growth.

During this period, some plants might need watering while others need less water. If you decide to water your houseplants, do it sparingly to avoid root rot.

How do you keep houseplants alive in the winter?

Winter is usually a hard time for most houseplants. Some houseplants may begin to shed their leaves while others will turn yellow as they prepare to go into dormancy. Worse still, some of them may die if they are unable to cope with the harsh winter weather.

The good news is that we have a few tips that can help you keep your houseplants green and alive in the winter.

Know when to water

Watering your indoor plants during winter can be tricky since too much water in the soil could lead to root rot or even kill the plants.

Remember, most houseplants require less water in the winter. You should therefore check the level of moisture in the soil to decide whether or not you need to water your plants.

Stop fertilizing

Many houseplant parents add fertilizer to their plants hoping to make up for the unfavorable growing conditions. This could be counterproductive since most plants are not actively growing.

Understand lighting requirements

Your houseplants may get leggy and frail if they do not receive sufficient light. Since natural light from the sun is rare in the winter, you can consider using artificial light to keep your weary plants alive.

Also, keep your windows clean to allow as much light as possible into your home.

Turn the heat up

Most houseplants are tropical, meaning they cannot withstand temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. With this in mind, do not hesitate to keep your plants warm by cranking up the heat.

You can use a space heater to heat up the room but make sure the plants are away from the heating vents to avoid damage.

Maintain humidity

Humidity is one of the basic requirements for healthy plant growth. Plants require about 50-60 percent humidity to thrive. The low humidity levels experienced during winter can lead to leggy plants. 

You can avoid this by placing your plants on a pebble tray filled with water to increase the moisture in the air. You can also use a humidifier to increase humidity to the desired level.

Check Ways To Increase Humidity for Houseplants.

Dust your plants

The leaves of a plant have tiny, little pores known as stomata, which they use to breathe. Dusting your houseplants regularly will ensure that these pores remain unblocked for easy breathing.

Clean leaves will also allow your plants to absorb light more efficiently for healthy growth during winter.

Get rid of pests

Bugs and pests can be a real nuisance to your plants in the winter. They can destroy your plants or cause diseases that compromise the health of your indoor plants.

Make a point of inspecting your plants regularly and use appropriate pest control products to treat the plants accordingly.

Using neem oil on houseplants helps much to keep bugs and spiders away.

How do you keep plants dormant?

As mentioned earlier, allowing your plants to go into dormancy is crucial to their survival. Plants go dormant during winter to conserve nutrients and energy for future growth.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your plants dormant during the cold season.

Apply winter mulch

Just before winter, you should water your plant and then apply some mulch to keep the soil moist and provide protection throughout the cold season.

As the plant goes dormant, the mulch will ensure it has sufficient moisture during this period.

Mound soil over your plants

Another way to keep plants dormant in readiness for the new season is to mound the soil around them.

This age-old technique, also known as hilling, will keep the plant safe throughout its dormancy. You should hill the soil 10-12 inches high around the plant for proper protection.

How do you tell if a plant is dormant or dead?

Knowing whether your houseplants are dormant or dead can be a huge challenge, especially if you are dealing with plant dormancy for the first time. Here are a few natural tests you can use to tell if a plant is dormant or dead.

  1. Conduct a snap-scratch test

A snap-scratch test is the easiest way to tell if your plant is dead or dormant. All you have to do is to snap a twig or branch. If it breaks easily, then the plant is dead.

You can also scratch the bark using a sharp blade to look for the white-coloring or fleshy green beneath.

  1. Examine the roots

Another way to tell if a plant is dead or dormant is to inspect the roots. When a plant goes into dormancy, the roots will remain healthy and alive.

If the plant is dead, the roots will probably be rotten and have a sewer-like smell.

At what temperature do plants go dormant?

The temperature at which plants go dormant varies, but most houseplants go into dormancy once the temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do dormant plants need light?

Dormant plants can survive without light. However, this depends on the plant species since some houseplants like the Chinese evergreen, still require low light to return back to life once the winter is over.

Final Thoughts

Growing houseplants that go dormant in winter is a smart choice that will help keep your plants for longer. Also check What Houseplants Grow In Shallow Pots?