Fall is in the air. Here in Portland, that means it’s cool and damp, and we’re bringing out our coziest wool flannels and sweaters to keep warm.

As the leaves are changing outside, your indoor garden is feeling the onset of fall as well. Just as you’re changing your wardrobe, so too do you have to change your fall houseplant care regimen to keep your little guys happy and beautiful through winter.

We’ve broken down exactly what you need to do for each of our three main indoor plant families – cacti, succulents and tropicals.


Philodendron selloum, one of our favorite tropicals.

The lush leaves of your prized tropicals can wither and brown in the dry winter air. Keeping a moist, tropical environment will ensure sure those leaves stay bright, shiny and green.

  • Light: Keep light as consistent as you can, which may mean moving plants to a new exposure. North-facing windows are particularly dim during winter months – consider giving your tropicals east or south light, especially ferns and hoyas.
  • Temperature: Tropicals don’t want to feel the cold. Move them away from drafty windows and doors, and keep your house temperature above 55.
  • Water: Like their succulent and cactus friends, tropicals need less water during winter. The best way to know if your plant needs water is the finger test: when the first 1-2 inches of soil feels dry, it’s time to saturate your plant.
  • Humidity: Heaters and fireplaces are devastating to tropicals. Mist your plants every few days to encourage humidity. Consider placing particularly susceptible plants like begonias on a tray of pebbles. Keep a layer of water at the bottom of the tray to create a humid microclimate for your plant.
  • Food: Tropicals don’t need much fertilizer through fall and winter. Once every two-three months should be plenty.


Crassula ovata (Jade plant), one of our favorite succulents.

Succulents earned their name by their ability to store water in thick, fleshy leaves and stems. Honoring their name is the key to keeping these plants happy and healthy through winter.

  • Light: Bring any succulents that you moved outdoors during summer into your home. Keep your succulents in your brightest spot – most will tolerate indirect light, though all would prefer 3-4 hours of good sun.
  • Temperature: Though some succulents are cold hardy, most prefer that temperatures don’t drop below 50-55 degrees.
  • Water: Succulents need far less water in winter. Water succulents deeply, but infrequently– about once a month.
  • Food: Fertilize your succulents one last time at the end of summer (read: today!). They won’t need another feeding until spring – in fact, doing so can promote rot (read: plant death).


A collection of cacti

Most cacti grow actively in spring and summer, but essentially go dormant during fall winter– benevolent neglect is key.

  • Light: Bring any cacti that you moved outdoors during summer into your home. Keep your cacti in your brightest spot. This may mean moving your plant a few times over winter, as the angle of the sun changes as winter approaches.
  • Temperature: Cool temperatures are actually best for your cactus’s winter dormancy. No need to stress about rooms getting too cold — as long as your house stay above 45 degrees, your cacti will thank you. Windows and unheated porches make great locations, as temperatures tend to be 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest of your house.
  • Water: Cacti need very little water during fall and winter. When we say very little, we mean just a slight moistening every few weeks. Overwatering is the easiest way to kill a cactus, especially in winter!
  • Food: Don’t fertilize cacti during winter – they don’t need it and it can kill your plant!

Have any fall houseplant care tips or stories? Share them with us in the comments, or join the conversation on facebook!

Pistils Nursery