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Monstera next to wrapped plant Photo by Severin Candrian on Unsplash

How to buy houseplants in the winter

If you're new to plants (welcome to the club, plants are amazing) and it happens to be winter when you start getting into plants, you might want to read this guide before you go out and buy the most beautiful plant you can find.

Buying houseplants in the winter doesn't come without a few challenges you have to overcome. When you buy plants in the summer it's easy, it's warm outside and getting them home safely is usually no problem. However, in the winter it's cold and getting your plant home can be a challenge by itself. In this guide, we're going to cover some of the challenges you have to overcome in order to get your plants home safely and make sure it doesn't die on you. These challenges include:

  1. Bringing plants home in the winter
  2. Little to no growth in the winter
  3. Taking care of your plant during the winter

Let's get into these challenges and some tips to overcome them, so you can go to your favorite plant store and get that beautiful new plant...or more than one, because let's be honest, you're going to get more than one plant.

Bringing plants home in the winter

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Frozen plant in the winter Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash

Bringing the plant home safely seems like an easy step, but this can be a real challenge in the winter. If you get any plants, especially tropical plants, and you live in a place that gets cold in the winter, exposing this plant to the cold weather for as short as a few minutes can be fatal. Your plant goes through a big temperature change in a short time and this could put it into shock. Plants that go into shock take a long time to recover and risk being infected by pests or even die.

You can overcome this challenge by wrapping your plant in multiple layers of plastic and/or paper to (temporarily) protect it from the cold. These layers help to insulate the air inside to keep the temperature a little higher than the outside temperature. This slight temperature difference could mean the difference between having a healthy plant and a plant that's struggling to stay alive. The layers of paper help to make the temperature change a little more gradual in the short term. If you're wondering what it looks like to wrap your plants, the photo at the top of this guide is a great example.

If you're buying plants in the winter, be sure to drive a car to the plant store, because walking or taking a bike will expose the plant to cold air for too long and this will most likely kill your plant. The plastic and/or paper wrapping will protect your plant against the cold winds, but it won't protect your plant against the ambient temperature for very long. The layers won't be able to keep your plant warm for more than a few minutes, so having a warmer environment like a car is vital when bringing your new plant(s) home.

Little to no growth in the winter

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Sansevieria growing babies

When you buy your plants in the winter, it's likely they're dormant, which means they will be "asleep" for months at a time. Like many animals, your plants can go dormant for the winter. This helps them recover from the rapid growth in the spring and winter and preserve energy to keep them alive during the "harsh" winter months.

If you've bought houseplants in the summer before, you'll know that they'll grow quickly when you bring them home. However, this is most likely not the case in the winter. Your plant is probably asleep and won't grow (a lot) at all. In fact, it might drop a few leaves to recover from the trip between the plant shop and your house. This seems scary, because it'll look like your plant is dying, but this is not the case if you've kept it warm on the journey home. Your plant is simply going dormant and will be back to it's former glory in the spring. Now, during the spring it'll start growing quickly again, like nothing happened.

Taking care of your plant during the winter

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Sansevieria with a scarf

Plant care in the winter is different than plant care in the summer. Most plant care guides are aimed towards plant care in the summer, so take the advice in these with a grain of salt if you've bought your plant in the winter. Your plant will require less water, more sunlight, and less fertilizer than these guides will mention. If you want to go more in-depth about taking care of plants in the winter, be sure to read "How to care for houseplants in the winter".

Persistence is key

The reality of taking care of plants in the winter is that it'ss a lot less exciting than taking care of plants in the summer, but this shouldn't stop you from getting the most beautiful plants you can find. All the effort you put into taking care of your plant in the summer is instantly rewarded with new growth, while this hard work seems to get you nowhere in the winter. This can be discouraging, but don't give up.

The goal of plant care in the winter is not to make your plant grow as quickly as possible, but to simply exist and maintain it's current size. If you succeed to take care of your plants in the winter, coming spring will be where your hard work pays off double. Your plants will now have an amazing start and will show you how well you took care of them by growing quickly.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: winter, humidity, water, sun-loving

Posted on: Nov 21, 2020

Frequently asked questions

Can you buy houseplants in the winter?
Yes, you can buy houseplants during the entire year. However, when you buy houseplants during the winter, you should make sure your plant stays warm when bringing it home.
Does wrapping your plant in the plant shop help in the winter?
Generally, wrapping your plant in a few layers of plastic or paper helps to keep cold air from reaching your plant. However, this will only protect your plant temporarily. Exposing your plant to this cold air for a longer period of time (more than 5-10 minutes) cold kill your plant if it's sensitive to cold air.
Should you buy plants in the winter?
If you've taken care of plants for a while and know how to care for plants in the winter, there is no harm in buying plants in the winter. However, if you're a plant beginner, it's best to wait until spring to buy your plants. It'll be much easier to keep your plants alive in the spring and summer than the autumn (fall) and winter.

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