Adapting your living space to accommodate the needs of your plants goes hand in glove with learning more about what the plants can tolerate.
Much as trying to grow plants outside their comfort zone seems intriguing to many people, growing tropical plants in significantly colder regions may not be a wise decision. This has to do with the USD Hardiness Zone map, so you want to ensure the plants you want to grow perform well in your local area. Still, even if you are cultivating houseplants that favor your local conditions, there may be times that your plants get too cold.
Luckily, they will show the signs they are cold and prompt you to change something in the existing growing conditions. Let’s see what the signs are and what to do about them.
- Signs That Plants Are Too Cold
- Signs Plants Are Too Cold
- Ideal Temperature for Indoor Plants
- Maintaining Constant Temperatures
- Cold Temperatures or Something Else
- Final Word
- Frequently Asked Questions
Signs That Plants Are Too Cold
Now that you have purchased a plant, you want to adapt it to the changes in the environment and this period is called acclimatization. Acclimatization refers to the gradual process of adapting to changing environmental conditions, such as light and temperature.
You want the change to be gradual rather than sudden. For instance, plants that are moved outdoors in spring and brought back indoors in fall need to be acclimatized to the changes in light, temperature, and wind. If a plant loses a leaf off in the process, that’s perfectly normal.
Although most indoor plants will thrive quite happily in our warm homes, they might suffer in extremely warm or chilly spots. These are the signs to look out for if a plant is too cold.
Related: Temperature Guide
Signs Plants Are Too Cold
Plants can get cold both during spring and winter. Temperate gardeners can see their warmest season shortened by a cool spring, and soils may stay too cool for tropical roots. You certainly don’t want that to happen. So, watch for these signs and strive to eliminate them.
Falling Flower Buds
Are flower buds of your plants falling off unopened? The reason for this is wrong temperature levels and cold drafts.
Cold air from doors or windows lower the room temperatures and humidity around the plant, resulting in slow and hardened growth. Tender plants can’t survive cold drafts. So, position the plant further into the room with a constant temperature.
Yellowing and Falling Leaves
Another sign your plant is living in a cold environment is if the leaves are turning yellow and starting to fall off. No plant likes fluctuating temperatures, right?
So, provide constant temperatures without sudden drops. Keep plants away from cold draughts such as hallways and remove them from cold windowsills at night, in winter.
You might think of this as an attractive occurrence, but now that you know the reason behind it, namely cold temperatures, I doubt your perception of it will remain the same.
Reddish leaves are the symptom of cold draughts and what you should do is move such plant to a warmer area.
Plants shed leaves for a number of reasons, including overwatering, underwatering, and changes in light and temperature. In addition, there may be a very sudden leaf fall and that’s simply an indication of the stress of being given a new spot.
Plants need some time to acclimatize to their new growing area and many plants shed leaves in the weeks immediately after changing their location. Wait patiently for a couple of days and your plant should recover promptly. However, if the plant continues to shed leaves so, check temperature and light levels and inspect the soil.
Sometimes, leaves may look deformed owing to a drop in temperature hindering normal plant growth. To solve the issue, keep your plants away from cold spots such as windowsills and hallways, particularly during freezing winter nights.
Leaf discoloration is another indicator that your plants grow in freezing conditions and cold drafts. You might notice some yellow, brown, or red tones on the leaves, but the causes can also be nutrient deficiency, wet and poorly-draining soil. Always take into account a number of possible causes before determining how to treat the plant. Think of it as a diagnosis and you want to make a reliable one.
Blackening foliage is a symptom of overwatering in combination with cold air and cool temperatures. Inspect your plant and you will probably see the roots rotting, resulting in the blackening of the foliage. This is the final stage in which a plant cannot be saved, so dispose of it.
Ideal Temperature for Indoor Plants
Different indoor plants have different temperature requirements, so you always want to check the individual requirements for each of your plants.
For example, tropical houseplants favor consistently warm environments and few of them would be able to cope with extended periods of very low temperatures. On the other hand, orchids need significantly cooler temperatures at night in order to promote flowering, namely a drop of more than 10 degrees at night.
It is also worth mentioning that most houseplants can cope with a relatively wide temperature range and the safest one is between 12-25 degrees C, so this range is convenient for most of them. Despite plants’ ability to cope with certain temperature fluctuations, plants won’t be able to tolerate temperatures that fall below or exceed their minimum or maximum range for longer time periods, since this will indubitably harm your houseplants. Make sure there are no significant fluctuations and no sudden drops.
Besides the plant itself, the temperature levels you should provide also depend largely on the current season, time of day, as well as light and humidity levels. The nighttime temperature should be lower than daytime temperatures, but daily winter temperatures shouldn’t be drastically different from the daily summer temperatures. The good news is that most house plants have adjusted to colder climates and colder temperatures by becoming dormant in wintertime, so they need to be moved to an unheated area.
Check the USD Hardiness Zone map or classify your plants as relatively cool, pleasantly warm, or highly tropical. This can be your guide as to what temperature range to follow.
Maintaining Constant Temperatures
To maintain constantly warm temperatures, you need to identify different sources of heat and draught in your home. Then, find the best location to showcase your plants when it comes both to indoor and outdoor temperatures. Here are some tips.
- Bring plants away from drafty windowsills, doors and hallways during colder months, because they can fluctuate significantly in temperature, be very hot in summer, yet very cold in winter.
- Position plants at a reasonable distance from hot and dry areas near radiators, open fires, air conditioners or heaters.
- Bring plants indoors after a summer vacation outdoors when temperatures drop. They might shed a leaf or two but that’s normal at this stage.
- Cover plants that are growing outside to protect them from biting frost and cold winds.
- Use cold frames and warming mats under the plants to keep roots warm.
- Heat your growing area, but move plants away from the heating sources.
Nailing the right temperature for a plant indoors can be a bit challenging. Ideally, you want to place your plants at a short distance from a sunny window and further away from sources of heat.
Cold Temperatures or Something Else
While these are the common symptoms of plants growing in cold areas and being exposed to cold currents of air, these symptoms can also be the cause of some other occurrences, such as nutrient deficiency, overwatering, underwatering, or inadequate levels of light.
You want to consider a number of possible options before making a definite diagnosis. Are the roots healthy? Is the plant receiving adequate light levels? Are you following a sound watering routine? Have you provided the best temperature for your individual plants? Eliminate one by one and you will arrive at the solution.
Once you have chosen a spot that is suitably lit for your plant, you want to consider what kind of temperature it likes. In general, indoor plants won’t survive frost, but there are a good many that don’t mind a winter drop, although most will be happier with an average room temperature between 12 and 25 degrees C. The winter temperature should be lower than summer because plants need a resting period but avoid any temperature drops.
Nevertheless, plants don’t like being exposed to extreme alterations of temperature. They don’t like extremely cold nights or very cold weather in general. A steady temperature is best, so avoid draughts. Put yourself in the plant’s position and think how you respond to the cold wind – plants are the same and we have a common bond.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know If My Plants Are Too Cold?
If your plants are too cold, the flower buds are falling off, their leaves are drooping, yellowing and falling off. The leaves also look deformed and plants start shedding them, sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly.
What Temperature is Too Low For Plants?
For most house plants, the safest range is between 12 and 25 degrees C. That means that temperature below 12 will be too low for most houseplants, like tropical plants. However, orchids love a nice drop in temperature at night during the winter because it induces flowering. That said, each plant has a preference when it comes to high and low temperatures, so always check them.
What Plants Can Tolerate Cool Temperatures?
If you can provide cool room temperatures, you can’t grow most plants that produce fragile flowers such as Cape Primroses or African violets. Still, your cooler temperature ranges are conducive to cultivating lily of the valley, pansies, and primrose.
How to Tell if a Plant is too Warm?
Warmer temperatures are good for blooming plants in your indoor garden, but there may be times your plants are too warm. Some symptoms of very warm temperatures include browning leaf tips, wilting stems, and leaves, falling flower buds or no buds at all, as well as curling leaves. To safeguard against this, position your plants away from the fierce, direct sunlight, open windows to let the air in and water more frequently. Position plants away from heaters.