Having been stuck indoors for the whole winter, your houseplants may need a little spring cleaning. Once you’ve cleaned them off, they’ll be ready for your patio.
Remove Dust and Dirt
Getting all the grime off your plants is very important. Dirty leaves can’t photosynthesize, which means that the leaves can’t absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food for the plant. The easiest way to get your plants shiny is to give them a shower. It will also help remove any insects. To get your plants ready:
- Put the pot in a plastic bag and tie the bag tightly around the base of the plant without injuring it. You want to be sure the plant doesn’t get over watered in the shower.
- If your plant has multiple stems, lay extra plastic bags between the stems.
- Put the plant in the shower and set the water temperature to tepid-neither hot nor cold.
- Let the shower sprinkle the plant for a few minutes.
Mineral Build up
If your plants look dull after its shower, there may be mineral build up from the water. To clean the minerals off hard-surfaced (not hairy) leaves, wipe with a dry, clean rag. Support each leaf with your free hand as you wipe. Another method: Gently scrape the minerals off with your thumb.
Cleaning plants with hairy leaves is a little trickier. First give them a gentle dusting with a feather duster and then hit the shower, as above.
Don’t Forget the Pots
Those white mineral deposits that show up on the inner rim of the pot and on the soil surface can be toxic to your plants. Gently scrape from the soil surface and the inner rim of the pot. If you have an extreme case of mineral build up, put the pot in a sink, where it can drain freely and run a lot of water through the soil to remove the minerals. (Don’t do this during times of low light or dormancy, however. Plants should be actively growing; otherwise they may develop root rot.)
Let There Be Light
After the plants have had their shower and their pots cleaned up, allow them to dry thoroughly right in the shower stall. You can set them on paper towels or old newspapers until they’re not dripping anymore. Don’t return them to direct sunlight until they are dry as direct sunlight can burn wet leaves.
Be sure the window you set your plant in is clean so that the plant will get optimal sunlight.
Cleaning a cactus requires a gentle touch-not only to prevent skewering yourself, but also to protect the waxy coating that helps the plant conserve moisture in desert climates. Stick to misting your cactus with a spray bottle filled with water and only clean the areas of the plant that are showing dirt or dust.
Make the cleaning quick and gentle and let the cactus dry before putting it back into direct sunlight. You can also use long tweezers to carefully pick off any dust particles.
To clean succulents with fuzzy leaves, use a soft paintbrush or feather duster to remove dust. The fuzziness protects the plant in arid conditions and washing can be hazardous to the leaves.
Into the Sun
Your houseplants will get a boost being outside but you need to get them acclimated a week or so before placing them in direct sunlight. Start off in a semi-shady spot for between seven to 10 days before placing them in the full sun. You have to find out what each individual plant needs. Don’t assume that all your tropical houseplants will want to be in direct sunlight. Some will actually do better in the shade. Move your plants around until you find the right mix of sun and shade and then sit back and watch them grow.