I read that many plants go dormant in winter. I live in the Netherlands, and while outside temperatures are between -3 °C and 10 °C in winter, the temperatures in my room are always between 15 °C and 20 °C.

I have aloes, cacti, and a Dracaena Massageana (Corn Cane). They are right next to a south-facing window, and I have noticed some of them (especially the Dracaena) putting out new growth during the winter.

My questions:

  • Would these plants actually go dormant during winter in my room's climate?
  • If they've gone dormant, why are some of them still growing?
  • Should I keep watering them with the same frequency during winter, assuming they didn't go dormant?
  • Should I still only fertilise these plants in spring and summer?
  • Plant cycles are both temperature and light sensitive. Depending on the plants, you can control them with either or both.
    – J.P.M.
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:01
  • 1
    Agreed with J.P.M. The shorter days trigger dormancy. Living in a somewhat similar zone, I follow the 3rd week of September to the 3rd week of March rule with much success. Not a drop of water between this period unless you see obvious signs of dehydration. This should be true too for a mature Dracaena with a substantial cane.
    – Brenn
    Feb 15, 2017 at 3:06

1 Answer 1


Indoor plants, plants in green houses get confused big time come winters. Some plants (not the ones you have) actually NEED to go dormant for their health. Indoors during the winter is tough because the heating sucks the moisture out of the air, the plants relying on light from windows are getting 'told' climate has changed because of the hours of daylight versus night time. Houseplants go into a 'sorta' dormancy with these environmental changes, slowing their growth. Watering should be less and definitely no fertilizing. This is a good reason to use an extended release fertilizer such as Osmocote. Fertilize twice a year the last to be in the late summer or fall.

People with artificial lighting and humidifiers can overcome the shortening of daylight hours to precipitate flowering and more growth. Any plant in 'shade' conditions should not be fertilized as much as their peers in the sun. Plants need a 'rest'...using artificial lighting one has to give their plants a nighty night time. During the spring and summer when temperatures are consistent, I always take my indoor plants out onto a shaded porch. They get lots more light. Doing this the plants are able to store more food (they make for themselves) and thrive...persist longer especially through the dark dry winters. Just the ambient light getting to the plants on a shaded porch will help them make more food to last the winters when brought back indoors.

In the plant world industry, indoor plants are considered long term perishables. Giving your plants good potting soil, drainage, light...fertilizing is critical but kept at a minimum will make one more adept keeping your house plants vigorous. Don't expect fruits or flowers indoors. Watch the watering. Winter indoors is dryer and the soil dries out faster. Weird, huh. But do not overdo! Keep plants away from forced air heat or any radiant heat sources. Taking your plants outside to a shaded porch during the summer when there is no chance of freezing temperatures, helps indoor plants to become much more longer term perishables...putting your indoor plants into the shower for a nice long rain shower once per month will make you their savior!

  • I agree with all said here except to not expect indoor plants to flower...I’ve had many of my plants, including an Aloe Lavender Star, bloom indoors. I live in zone 5 and my plants are in a southwest window that has a lot of trees blocking the sun but some sun does still shine through. It is true with fruit though, as most indoor plants will not fruit. Flowering is absolutely possible indoors. Oct 7, 2018 at 2:27
  • Some plants can flower in low light conditions. That is true. Indoor plants are a category of tropical plants that can stand dry air, low light conditions. But flowering will never be more than a bonus from your indoor plants. Fruits follow flowering. Your aloe plant is an exception not proof of flowering indoors. It is certainly a bonus.
    – stormy
    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:52

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