Watering plants in winter is an important task in our zone 4 climate.
We heat our houses in the winter and when you add in the cold dry air that equals a tough environment for plants and people for that matter.

For us people it is easy to tell when the air is too dry … chapped lips, scratchy skin and dry nasal passages all tell us when the air is dry. And it’s relativity easy for us to have another glass of water or grab the lip balm or skin lotion. But for plants it may not always be obvious. After all the effect of chapped lips is felt every time we open our mouth or lick our lips but how often do we check the plants.

One thinking that can make things easier for people and plants is a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to the air in the form of mist, steam, and by evaporation aided by a fan. Using a humidifier would probably be a good idea, but like everything else in life, there are many opinions on which one is best. All we can say is read up on them and ask those who use one how they feel About the type they use.
Just keeping pans of water on the heat registers will add moisture to the air and in the old days there was a pot of water on the back of the stove to do the same duty.

Water vapor in the air can make a big difference in how well plants do. Try putting a few plants on the window sill over a kitchen sink and you will see how much better they do compared to plants left in dryer areas. Of course the plants right in plain sight and within easy access to water are bound to do well.
Plants respirate or breath through tiny holes in the bottom of the leaves. During the day the plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen and at night they use a little oxygen and give off carbon dioxide and water vapor. So even when they are taking in water vapor they are giving off the water that is drawn up from the roots to the leaves.

Naturally some plants will like it dryer than others. Today we re-potted some geraniums that were unceremoniously pulled up by the roots and crammed into plastic bags, last fall. Geraniums are succulent plants and related to cactus and like cactus the geraniums can go a long time with just a little water. On the other hand you may have plants that need watering twice a week. Ad to that some days will be dryer than others depending on the weather.

A good way to make sure all the plants are happy is to go around at least twice a week and look at each plant. Dig a finger into the soil to see how dry the plant is . Most house and garden plants want to be a little moist but check your varieties to be sure. Remember that water requirements will vary with the plants life cycle. New planting and seedlings do not want to dry out, but as soon as the true leaves develop the watering can be cut back a little.

When watering try to use room temperature water that does not have chemicals or pollutants. Leaving the water out lets chemicals line chlorine to dissipate. If you are on your own well with no chlorine you should have your water checked frequently but leave it out for the plants anyway. Water containing chemicals like benzine will damage or kill your plants so make sure your source is pure.

One trick to keep both you and your plants hydrated is to set the pots in shallow trays filled with small aquarium stones and keep water in the trays. The water will evaporate and help keep the plants and the house hydrated.

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