Winter is a challenging time for plants as the weather changes, and this triggers changes in the environment which can affect their overall health. Similar to humans, they need some extra attention during the cold months.
Philodendrons are tropical plants which means they don’t naturally enjoy cold temperatures. If these plants are exposed to the cold for too long, they will become frozen and die. Depending on the variety of philodendrons, some can survive colder temperatures of 55°F in certain regions.
The good news is that this article will give you some tips for looking after philodendrons in colder climates and how to spot freeze damage on your plant.
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What Temperature Is Too Cold for Philodendrons?
For the most part, philodendrons need warm, humid environments. Generally, the lowest temperature this plant can grow in is 55°F. Although, the best temperatures are between 65-85°F for optimal growth.
Initially, philodendrons are from rainforest climates in Mexico, Brazil, and the West Indies. Nowadays, this plant species is found all over the world, but their low cold tolerance has stayed the same.
So, how can you tell if the cold damages your philodendron?
Signs of Cold Damage
If the weather becomes too cold for your philodendrons, you’ll be able to spot if your plant is damaged just by looking at it. Here are the most common symptoms to watch out for when growing your plant.
Drooping leaves almost always indicate something is wrong with your plant. Now, before you can determine if it’s freeze damage or not, you should inspect your plant.
The leaves will curl and droop when there is cell damage. If the temperatures are below 55°F and you notice drooping, it’s most likely due to freezing damage.
Discoloration of Leaves
Another sign of freeze damage is when the leaves change color. Philodendrons come in various sizes and colors, but if you see white spots or yellow/red marks on the veins, it could be because of the cold weather.
If the cells have died and frozen, white spots and discolored marks will appear on the leaves. The effects of freeze damage might not be evident initially, but if the plant is left in the cold for too long, the leaves will harden and fall off.
Drooping leaves and discoloration are two main issues to be aware of when caring for philodendrons, but your plant could be affected in other ways by the cold weather. For instance, the water inside the plant will freeze.
Think of freeze damage like this; typical side effects consist of water freezing in the leaves, which makes the plant cells harden. However, if the freezing temperatures lead to drooping or discoloration, you must take action and prune the leaves or move your plant.
After all, you wouldn’t leave any other living organism in a freezing climate if they are not acclimatized, so the same logic applies to plants.
How To Look After Philodendrons in Winter?
The way you look after philodendrons will depend on where you live. For example, if you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 9, your plant will need to be covered at night. Plastic and blankets are the most common materials used for covering philodendrons.
A freeze cloth is a quick and efficient choice if you can buy one at a local garden store or online. However, you can also use a lightweight blanket if you’d instead use a DIY method. The only downside of blankets is you need to tie them down to prevent them from flying away.
You can use heavy rocks or twine to tie a blanket to a nearby fence. The same setup can be used with a plastic sheet as well.
For extra heat, some gardeners even place Christmas lights under the cover to give their plants a little more heat. This can help limit the potential of freeze damage in the winter.
If you decide on using Christmas lights, you should be careful about the placement of the wires and ensure they are safe and not at risk of creating a fire hazard.
Pruning can also help restore your plant’s health if they have experienced a light freeze.
To prune your philodendron, you’ll have to wait for spring as that’s when the last freeze has taken place, and you can be sure there will be no more freeze damage.
Next, you should identify the parts of your plant that have been damaged. The signs mentioned in the previous section will help you with this stage, but you should also keep an eye out for any other symptoms of illness like water spots.
Finally, you’ll have to get a pair of pruning sheers and sanitize them before cutting the damaged leaves off your plant. Just remember to leave the healthy parts intact.
The easiest way to prune your philodendron is to cut along the stem and stop before the leaf. Then, you can compost the damaged debris.
You should adjust your watering schedule when the season shifts from summer to fall. As philodendrons enter dormancy during winter, they won’t need as much moisture to keep growing.
If you’ve been watering your plant every week or so, you’ll only need to water it once every two weeks from autumn onwards.
Of course, it’s essential to check the soil’s texture before deciding whether to water your plant. You can water your philodendron when the top layer of soil is dry, even if that means it needs to be watered less or more every two weeks.
The water should be at room temperature when pouring into the soil to prevent it from being shocked by temperature fluctuations.
Where To Place Philodendrons in Winter?
Philodendrons can be kept outdoors or indoors, but if you want to continue storing your plant outside, you’ll need to use a cover.
Otherwise, you should think about moving your philodendron somewhere warm. You should avoid places with drafts such as windowsills and areas with extreme heat like radiators. A moderate temperature is best for this plant, so think carefully about the location.
Here are some essential tips for moving your philodendron plant in winter:
- Bright spot with moderate temperatures
- Avoid cold drafts and windows
- Make sure humidity levels are stable
You can keep your philodendron in kitchens or bathrooms are these usually are areas with the correct climate for this plant.
If you’re concerned about light levels, you can always use LED lights to boost the brightness of your plant. As mentioned, Christmas lights are popular, but you can use other lamps or string lights if you prefer.
Do You Need to Fertilize Philodendrons in Cold Climates?
Typically, it’s not necessary to fertilize plants in winter. For philodendrons, it’s good to apply a fertilizer every 6-8 weeks to keep the leaves healthy and provide enough nutrients to the roots.
If you fertilize in small doses, your plant will be healthy and happy.
Common Problems in Winter
Even though freezing is a top concern for plant owners in winter, there are other problems to learn about when looking after your plant, especially if you’re new to plant care.
Over-watering can lead to brown leaves and root rot. So, you must be vigilant with your watering schedule.
If there’s too much light, your philodendron might become leggy. Using artificial lights and moving the location of your plant can help you avoid this.
In addition to over-watering and too much light, you shouldn’t fertilize your plant excessively. If you apply more fertilizer than necessary, the plant will become stressed, and the roots will become affected.
Luckily, all of these issues can be cured with correct caring techniques and proper care. That way, when spring comes around, your plant will grow beautifully!
Philodendron Varieties and Temperature Tolerance
This section will give you a breakdown of the ideal temperatures for several philodendron varieties, so you know exactly how warm or cold the climate needs to be when looking after your plants in winter.
So far in this article, we’ve covered the primary information for split-leaf philodendrons, which is the most popular choice for houseplant collectors. Here is the temperature information for other philodendrons…
- Philodendron Xanadu: 65ºF minimum
- Philodendron Pink Princess: 55ºF minimum
- Philodendron Brasil: 60ºF minimum
- Hope Philodendron: 60ºF minimum
- Silver Philodendron: 65ºF minimum
- Philodendron Mican: 65ºF minimum
- Philodendron Moonlight: 55ºF minimum
Symptoms of cold damage are the same for all types of philodendrons, so it’s a good idea to write a checklist ahead of winter to ensure you can spot any problems.
The most important thing is to keep your philodendron out of drafts and avoid placing it near burning hot radiators. If you look after your plant correctly, you should make it through winter without significant problems.
So, enjoy growing your philodendrons at home over winter!