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Known on social media as the “apartment botanist,” Alessia Resta likes plants better than people. Throughout the past four years, she’s amassed a jungle in her home on New York’s Upper West Side, with some leaves hailing from as far away as Thailand. Now she’s sharing her self-taught expertise with the masses in her book Plants Are My Favorite People (out February 1 by Clarkson Potter).

Given the bone-chilling temps of late, we thought it only fitting to excerpt Resta’s lowdown on her holy grail of winter plant care: a healing box.

It’s normal to struggle with indoor plants during the colder months. The leaves yellow, growth might slow down, and some won’t make it through the dark times. Depending on where you are in the world, winter can be rough on indoor plants. As long as you can meet your plants’ primary needs (light, water, good soil, and humidity), they shouldn’t have any problems, no matter the season. 

But when the temperature drops and plants slow their growth, mistakes can happen. Overwatering and cold drafts are the top killers during the winter. With an apt name, the healing box has brought back many of my plants from the brink of death. 

Courtesy of Alessia Resta

In short, a healing box is a closed, clear plastic box that you keep plants in, helping promote growth through high humidity. The condensation that gathers on the inside walls provides ample humidity for the plants within. If you’re interested in going this route, find a large, clear storage box with a lid; these are sold at any home goods store and come with grow lights. The lid locks the moisture in and the grow lights encourage more growth. 

Courtesy of Alessia Resta

Make sure to remove the top once a week so the plants receive fresh air; you can even set up a mini fan to help increase air circulation. Water the plants once a month and clean the box regularly. You can remove the plants once you feel they have grown or healed sufficiently. If you’re using the healing box for propagation, they’re ready when the plant roots have grown at least 1 to 2 inches long.

Reprinted with permission from Plants Are My Favorite People: A Relationship Guide for Plants and Their Parents by Alessia Resta. Copyright 2022. Illustrations copyright 2022 by Lucila Perini. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.