Winter can be tough on all of us. It's been brutally cold here in PA for a few weeks with temps dipping into the single digits. BRRRR! It's great to be inside and out of the elements, but home heating systems can really dry out our skin and hair. And if they're having that effect on you, imagine what they're doing to your houseplants.
So if you're yearning to do a bit of gardening, why not give your houseplants a spa day?
Houseplant leaves get dusty just like other items around the house. And simply dusting them with a feather duster just won’t cut it. (In fact, using a feather duster can transfer tiny insects and eggs from one plant to another – Yuk!)
The dust doesn’t just look bad, it can clog the pores of the plant leaves making it difficult for the plant to ‘breathe’. Dust also filters out the sunlight plants use for photosynthesis. And the dust and dirt can attract tiny insects.
So what’s a plant owner to do?
For plants with large smooth leaves, you can simply wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. And if insects have been a problem in the past add a bit of insecticidal soap like Neem's Oil Spray.
For plants with smaller leaves, take them to a sink and gently spray with a hand sprayer. Or you can put them in the shower and turn the water on using a gently spray setting.
In both cases, the water you use should be lukewarm – never hot or cold as this can shock the plant.
(The one exception to this are African Violets. They react badly to drops of water being left on their leaves. To remove dust from them, wipe their leaves with a slightly damp cloth or gently use a clean paintbrush reserved just for this task.)
While you're giving your plants this much needed moisture treatment, check for any dying leaves and trim those off. Also remove any dead leaves that may have fallen into the pot. Check the leaves for any insects and remove.
Take a look at your trailing plants. If they are getting leggy, trim them back. A good 'haircut' can allow the plant to put its energy into filling out from the center. Make your cuts at the junction of the leaf on a stem rather than in the middle of a stem. Shameless plug: our Relaxed Gardener Clippers shown here are perfect for the job. Click here to learn more.
Finally, look at the size of the plant in relationship to the pot. Eventually plants outgrow their pots. If you're not sure if a plant is ready for replanting, notice how quickly the soil dries out after watering. If it happens very quickly, it's time to repot.