Should I Water Outdoor Plants In Winter

The weather is freezing, and your landscape needs water. Winter has officially come. And even though your landscape has gone into dormancy, it nevertheless occasionally becomes dry. Let’s talk about winter watering advice and how to keep your plants alive. (Tip: Watering is required!)

Simple Advice for Gardening in the Cold Your plants need to be watered occasionally even though they are wilted and brown. Plants that don’t water during the winter frequently die before April. In addition to increasing landscaping expenditures during the warmer months, this can also harm your plumbing. How so? Plants that don’t get enough water in the winter go looking for it on their own. who is the most common victim? your drain pipes. Underground pipelines may attempt to be penetrated by roots, necessitating messy and expensive repairs.

  • Select a day that is warm, with a high of at least 40 degrees F.
  • Make sure the ground is not frozen.
  • When temperatures are higher, try watering in the middle of the day so that it can soak in before it freezes at night.
  • From November through April, water your landscape once or twice a month.
  • In the months of March and April, new roots begin to grow. During these months, watering is especially important.
  • In winter gardening, new lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowers need the most care.
  • Priority should be given to well-established turf and trees, especially those in sunny, windy, or exposed locations. Watering keeps them from drying out because of the particular environmental circumstances.
  • Additionally benefited are mature shrubs, blooming plants, decorative grasses, and groundcovers.
  • Cacti, succulents, and buffalo grass shouldn’t be watered.
  • The majority of automatic sprinkler systems are switched off during the winter to avoid freezing damage. Use a watering wand or hose-end sprinkler to avoid this annoyance.
  • After watering, detach the hose from the spigot. If the hose is left in place, water may freeze in your pipes, resulting in costly damage.
  • Water for brief intervals, letting it absorb before reapplying.
  • After watering, watch out that the ground doesn’t remain moist for too long. Your prized plants could be killed by root rot as a result of this.
  • Place cups in your yard to capture part of the water to help you gauge how long to water. Add water to the cups until you can measure 0.5 to 1 deep. When you reach this point, you’ll be able to gauge how long to water for subsequent sessions.

The significance of winter watering cannot be stressed when it comes to having a lush environment in the spring. When warmer weather arrives, your garden will express its gratitude if you use these techniques for gardening in the cold.

How long after summer should I stop watering my plants?

It’s time to cease watering when the air and soil temperatures are consistently below 40 F. As soon as the top few inches freeze, the earth is unable to absorb water. Up until this time, keep watering your plants to give them the best chance of staying hydrated throughout the winter. That might mean the difference between your plants living and dying.

Continue watering throughout the winter, exactly like you did in the fall, if you live somewhere where the ground doesn’t freeze.

Adjust Your Watering Routine

Although it may seem contradictory, the majority of indoor plants require less water in the winter. Despite the fact that winter air is dryer, plants develop more slowly and some even fall into complete dormancy during the colder months. As a result, plants require less water to maintain their hydration, and overwatering can cause root rot. Remember that different plants require varied amounts of water. Drought-tolerant cacti and other succulents may not require any watering, whilst certain tropical plants may still need more frequent watering.

Winter months can cause surface soil to dry up more quickly, but it isn’t necessarily a sign that the plant needs water. When the soil is dry an inch or two below the surface, test it with your finger; if it is, it’s time to get the watering can out.


Do not water your houseplants with cold water. To prevent shocking the roots of the plant, use water that is close to room temperature. In some winter climates, tap water can become very chilly; thus, wait several hours before using it to water your plants. This kind of gradual warming also enables dissolved gases, such chlorine, to evaportate from the water.

Alter Humidity Levels

The largest challenge that indoor plants face throughout the winter months is often low humidity levels. Plants like a humidity level that is closer to 50%, which might drop to 10 to 20% in heated homes during the winter. If your home has a humidifier, move your plants there so they can benefit from it. If you don’t have a humidifier, find another way to increase the humidity.

Start by clustering your plants in groups. Plants naturally release water through their leaves through transpiration, thus combining them will make good use of that moisture. Because they absorb moisture from showers and cooking, bathrooms and kitchens are the greatest places to keep plants.

The age-old method of putting your plants on or close to a tray of water is another excellent choice. But avoid letting the plants submerge themselves in the water. Put stones or pebbles in the tray to elevate the pots’ bottoms above the water line, then set the pots on top of the stones. By doing this, humidity levels will rise without encouraging root rot.

Instead than helping the plants, misting usually works better at making the gardener feel good about themselves. You might believe that spraying your plants will provide them with some comfort, however misting just provides a brief burst of moisture. Because indoor temperatures allow moisture to evaporate quickly, misting is necessary several times a day to be effective. Try misting if you only have a few plants and believe you will be really diligent about it. An indoor plant may rarely be over-mist. Misting plants in humid summers can result in fungal issues, but this shouldn’t be a concern in the winter.

Pay Attention to Temperature

Like most people, most plants thrive in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night and between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Keep your plants away from heat sources like radiators, ovens, fireplaces, and electronics in order to give them that, as well as from chilly drafts. Houseplants can die from temperature changes just as quickly as from extended exposure to heat or cold.

Follow the Sun

In addition to having fewer daylight hours, wintertime sunlight also comes in at a lower angle. Your houseplants might need to be moved to a brighter location or even given more light. An all-day sunny window with a south or west orientation is an ideal location. Moving plants next to a chilly window, however, should be avoided since they might experience a draft.

Every time you water your plants, rotate the pots by roughly a quarter of a turn. This prevents some branches from reaching for the light, allowing the plant to grow evenly and receive some sun on all sides.

The amount of light that reaches plant leaves can also be diminished by layers of dust. This dust can be removed from leaves with a moist cloth, giving plants more access to light during the winter.

Plants will need to be exposed to the grow lights for extended periods of time in regions where the winter sun is essentially nonexistent and where the majority of their light comes from supplemental lighting. If a plant needs six hours of direct sunshine, it can also require an additional 12 or 14 hours of light to provide the same amount of energy. Grow lights are far less strong than sunlight, thus plants require more time under them to absorb enough energy.

Put Your Houseplants on a Diet

Because they are not growing as quickly in the winter, the majority of houseplants don’t require any fertilizer. Stop feeding them until early spring as continuing to do so would only disrupt their natural cycle. When you start to see signs of new growth or the existing leaves appear to be greening up, resume fertilizing to give them a boost for the growing season.

Some tropical plants, especially vining climbers or trailers, grow quite actively all winter long, and these may still require some feeding, though usually at reduced rates.

When is it too chilly outside to water plants?

In cold winters, desiccation can occur in a number of ways, including dry soils, frozen soil/water, and water loss from strong winds. Even during the coldest months of the year, plants continue to absorb water even though they use less water in the winter. Particularly with regards to evergreen plants (plants that retain their leaves in winter such as spruce, junipers, rhododendrons, hollies, etc).

The easiest way to prevent outside plants from drying out is to keep them well-hydrated. Check the soil’s hydration and add water if necessary when it’s warmer than 40 degrees (be sure to avoid over-watering). Take advantage of the opportunity to keep the plants hydrated when the weather is regularly warm in the fall and winter. Water will freeze and become unavailable to the plants if you water while it is below 40°F or if continuous freezing temperatures are predicted within the next 24 hours.

Anti-desiccant sprays can also be used to shield evergreen foliage from excessive water loss. The majority of garden centers sell these sprays. By minimizing water loss from the foliage, they function. Follow the instructions carefully if you use an anti-desiccant. Anti-desiccants can be beneficial, however they cannot take the place of moisturizing the soil.

Do I need to water in the winter?

Although it may not seem like it, plants still use water in the winter, just less of it. The cycles of freezing and thawing also drain the soil of moisture. Don’t forget about how drying winds can deplete soil moisture as well.

In conclusion, winter soils are frequently on the dry side. Healthy plants will last the winter and grow stronger and more established in the spring and the rest of the summer.

  • Simple winter irrigation advice is provided. As long as the soil is not frozen and the temperature is above freezing when applying, you are permitted to water at any time during the winter. Even if it gets below freezing after the treatment, the plants won’t suffer because of the frozen water in the soil.
  • Recent plant plantings are the ones that are most vulnerable. Due to their propensity to lose more moisture in the winter, evergreens are also negatively impacted.

The good news about watering plants in the winter is that they do not lose moisture as quickly as they do in the summer. Depending on the moisture patterns, a complete deep soak should last a month or longer.

  • Remember to maintain your grass. Lawns are susceptible because of their shallow roots. A lawn that received adequate moisture over the winter will also begin to turn green early in the spring.
  • Do not forget to unplug the hose from the exterior faucet and drain.

Have inquiries? A trained EMG volunteer or member of the Extension staff will answer your inquiries on the Garden Hotline.

In the winter, how often should I water my plants?

During their dormancy, your plants won’t require as much water as they do in the spring and summer, but make sure to deeply hydrate them a few times a month.

Smaller plants can be watered anywhere near their crowns, but trees and bigger landscape perennials should be watered between the trunk and the drip line for optimal results. Just watch out that the ground doesn’t stay wet, as this poses a major risk for root rot and suffocation in plants.

As a general guideline, water when the soil seems dry to the touch, the temperature is not below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), and if at all possible, the wind is not blowing. The water you’re trying to provide to the roots of your cherished plants may be significantly diminished by drying winds.

Do you water winter-dormant plants?

  • Make sure to allow 1-2 inches around the plant’s base when mulching.
  • These plants won’t require much extra water after a thorough initial soaking and mulching upon planting until new growth starts to appear. Compared to plants that are actively growing, dormant plants require less irrigation. (If growing in a low desert zone, it could be necessary to irrigate once every two weeks if the daytime high temperature is high.) Search beneath the mulch. Water lightly if the soil feels dry.
  • Watering once every 7 to 10 days is sufficient when plants start to produce new leaves until the weather warms and the plant starts to grow actively. following water as required.
  • Use the Root Stimulator Combination Pack once or twice more after planting, spaced two to four weeks apart.

How should outside plants be cared for during the winter?

In all honesty, you could probably just let hardy outside plants take care of themselves during the winter, and they’d probably be fine. (Can you tell that I practice pretty laissez-faire plant parenting?) However, if you’re a superb plant parent, follow these simple instructions to ensure that your outdoor plants have the most relaxing winter hibernation ever.

Know Your Plants

You should first inventory all of your current plants. Determine which plants are annuals and perennials, if you don’t already know. Annuals have a single growing season and won’t return after the winter. Common annual flowers that can be easily removed and composted include geraniums, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias.

Bring any tropical or subtropical plants inside as well. Even though they may thrive outdoors in the summer, ferns and palms aren’t sturdy enough to endure winter conditions like snow and freezing temperatures. Just be careful to inspect them for bugs before you bring them inside, or else you run the risk of having bugs infest all of your other plants (a mistake I’ve made several times).

How can outside plants survive the winter?

I’ve only recently started gardening in the winter, so I was concerned that the cold would kill my plants. This is the result of some time I invested in research and testing several ideas.

You must give outdoor plants enough of water if you want them to survive the winter. Mulch the soil after it has been watered to keep the moisture and warmth in. To avoid frost, cover and enclose the plants as needed.

Different plants will require different care, and there are proper and wrong ways to go about it. If you follow the appropriate instructions, keeping your plants alive during the winter is not difficult.