Do Seasons Matter to Indoor Plants? (& How They Know)

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: May 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

You might think that season’s don’t matter to indoor plants. After all, you’re running the AC (or heat) most of the year anyway, so what do they know?

You might be surprised that seasons matter a lot to indoor plants. They’re still (usually) aware of what time of year it is and are able to adjust accordingly to the changing seasons based on what they would typically do in their natural habitat.

Do seasons matter to indoor plants?

Mostly yes, but this question has a complex answer. The answer depends on where you live, where the plants come from, and how you control your plants’ environment.

For example, plants that are kept on the porch or in a sunny window may react to seasons slightly differently than plants under a grow light in a room that is completely sealed off from the outside.

Light that your indoor plants are receiving from outside through the nearest window is a huge factor in how they recognize the seasons.

Fresh Cut Flowers in a Vase | Photo 28274548 © Jruffa |

Light is a major factor in how plants are able to adjust to different seasons. During the spring and summer, days get longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. This allows a plant to produce more energy through photosynthesis, and so the plant starts its growth cycle.

In order to thrive indoors, plants need a warm environment, good humidity, and lots of light. This light can come from either an artificial source or a natural source (i.e. the sun).

If your plants are getting light at least in part via a window, you can expect them to experience seasons at least somewhat normally.

In winter, the quality of light decreases, causing plants to slow down to save energy. During this time, most plants need less water. It’s also a good idea to avoid over watering and fertilizing during these months to prevent the onset of root burn.

When spring rolls back around, the plant will start receiving more and stronger light again. This will let it know that spring is arrived and that it should shake off its winter dormancy.

Do Plants Grown Under Artificial Light Experience Seasons?

So far, I’ve mostly focused on how plants prepare for seasons based on light cues. That’s not the only way that plants realize seasons are changing.

Even plants grown completely under artificial light may still experience seasons. This is because another signal that plants use to prepare for the change of season is temperature.

Vertical Farming Under Grow Lights | Photo 198793897 © Photomall |

To a certain extent, temperature change indoors is limited due to AC and/or central heating. There is still typically a range of temperature between where heat stops being turned on and air conditioning starts running that will cause somewhat of a temperature shift between the warmer months and the cooler months.

Most indoor plants come from tropical regions where the change in temperature between the seasons is limited anyway. This means that dormancy is less a concern than knowing when to start preparing to flower for reproductive purposes.

Plants that do come from an area where they would typically go dormant (or slow down their growth) during a season have often evolved to need this slow period even if they’re sheltered from any signals that the seasons are changing. In these types of plants, it can be beneficial to change the amount of light they’re receiving based on what time of year it is to keep them healthy.

Poinsettias are one type of plant where this is particularly important, for example. During a few weeks of the year, they need complete darkness so they can change the color of their bracts to the characteristic white or red color these plants are known for.

What is the Growing Season for Indoor Plants?

It is important to understand that indoor plants have their own growing seasons, which will be different for each plant species. As a general rule, most plants begin to put out new shoots when the winter ends. This is when they are in the growing season.

The temperature warms up (at least a little bit), the days get longer, and the sun gets brighter.

Typically, this still corresponds with spring in the local area where you’re at. It may even start early, since they’re inside and shielded from the effects of the cold for the most part.

Plants that would typically be most active during the winter should still experience their growing season during the winter for this reason.

How Do Houseplants Know It Is Spring?

You might have wondered if your houseplants know when spring has arrived. This is a question that can be answered by observing the way that their leaves change. Some indoor plants can even detect changes in daylight and temperature. They will respond to the longer hours of daylight, the shifting angle of light, and the increasing warmth. 

Most plants have some form of indicator that spring is here, and you can tell when they’ve decided that they’re ready to start growing again. When the days get longer and the light from the sun gets more powerful, they’ll start photosynthesizing more effectively. This will help them to start preparing for the upcoming spring and summer months, and they’ll start putting on new growth (or putting it on more quickly)

As a responsible plant owner, you’ll want to take care of your little ecosystem during this transition. For example, clean your plants of dead or decaying leaves. The fresher they are, the more they’ll be able to photosynthesize light.

You can also start adding fertilizer to give them the nutrients they need for the new growth they’re putting on.

Do Indoor Plants Grow More During Spring & Summer?

As a general rule of thumb, indoor plants are more likely to grow during the spring and summer seasons. In the warmer months, they will grow faster and bloom for a number of reasons, including increased temperature, more light for longer periods during the day, and increased humidity.

During spring and summer, you can take advantage of the more pleasant weather by moving your houseplants outdoors so they can get a few hours of brighter light than what they would normally get indoors.

Not all plants can handle direct sun, but you can still give them some better light by putting them on a porch or somewhere that may receive better light than where they are at indoors.

How Does Winter Affect Indoor Plants?

Red & White Poinsettias | Photo 28298301 © Volgariver |

Most tropical plants that don’t require a dormancy period in their native area will continue growing with little change during winter – though they may grow slower and need less water if they are receiving less sunlight.

In some parts of the world, winter is a brutally cold time of year. In such climates, plants are forced to stay dormant, which means they need to be watered less often.

Plants that would normally go dormant to cope with winter conditions are likely to still need that dormancy period, and dropping temperature in your house as well as the sun getting lower in the sky (if they get their light from the window) is likely to trigger that dormancy period even indoors.

Not all plants go dormant in the winter, however. Some plants can’t handle the heat of summer, so the cooler months are the best for them. These plants will start growing and potentially flowering during the winter months.

Cyclamens, for example, flower in winter. In addition, cyclamens are able to grow during the winter months because they thrive in dark, cooler conditions.


You might be under the impression that indoor plants won’t be able to tell what season it is just because they’re indoors.

This is far from the case, however. Plants are pretty smart, with the ability to remember what season it is based on the position of the sun in the sky, length of the day, temperature change, and change in humidity. (Probably in addition to many other small cues we don’t even think about on a daily basis.)

Most of these changes still take place indoors, giving the plants all the information they need to be aware that seasons are changing and they need to be ready.

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