13 February, 2012

Cleaning house plants

My January's "TO DO" list included taking care of plants and I was planning on giving my house plants a good shower.  When I finally did, I took some photos to share this "tutorial" on how to clean house plants.

Let me begin by mentioning that not all house plants benefit from this type of cleaning.  Cacti and succulents as well as plants with "hairy" leaves (ex. violets) should not be showered.
If you are not sure whether you should be cleaning your plants using this method, consult a florist or do a Google search.

One of my very dusty plants
Leaves play a very important role in plants' well being: they are used for the plants' "breathing" and "eating" processes.  Grey, dusty leaves can not absorb a lot of sunlight, which is crucial for plants' life cycle.  Dusty and oily residue fills up leaves "pores" (stomata), preventing them from getting and releasing oxygen and carbon dioxide.

This plant was in dire need of good cleaning

Every month or so leaves need to be "dusted".  The process is quite simple: use a dump small rag (a piece of old cotton t-shirt works great for this) to carefully wipe off any dust or residue from each leaf.  Make sure to rinse the rag often (use tepid water).

Every 6 months or so your plants would benefit from a shower.  The process is simple but could be time-consuming.  Here is what you will need:

I've mention several supplies on the image above.  For a simple shower all you really need is  ... well ... a shower.  If you want a more thorough cleaning you might need:
1 - a big brush and a smaller brush (toothbrush works great) to clean the outside of pots and to wash flower pot plates
2 - shears to cut off dead and damaged leaves
3 - soft cloth (a piece of old t-shirt) to clean extra dirty leaves

Clean plant = happy plant

  • Place your plants in the bathtub
  • Use tepid (not too cold and not too warm) water
  • Set your shower to delicate spray - you do not want to damage weaker and smaller leaves
  • Wash plants by moving the shower head up and down.  Make sure to get bottom leaves nicely clean

  • Most plants would get clean by this method, but extra-dirty plants would benefit from additional wiping
  • Simply wipe each leaf with a cotton cloth and rinse the plant with a shower once again
  • Once the plant is clean take time to remove any dead or severely damaged leaves
  • Clean the outside of the pots with a brush.  This will help to remove dust and some salt build up but would not replace a thorough pot cleaning (for instructions on terracotta pot cleaning click HERE)
  • Clean flower pots plates

  • Let plants stand in the bathtub for 10-15 minutes to drain extra water
  • Carefully lift the plant (it will be much heavier since its soil is fully saturated with water) and put on the plate
  • Avoid placing freshly-washed plants under direct sunlight - small droplets of water act like magnifying glass and can cause leaf burns.

Your plants are now clean and happy and will continue doing their hard work - purifying air of your house.

Previously on SAS-does {Gardening}: CARING FOR TERRACOTTA POTS

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