How to clean indoor plants

20. Cleaning the houseplants
The green thumb

The leaves of our indoor plants have to be freed from dust and airborne debris every now and then. Since no rain falls on the indoor plants, the natural cleaning mechanism of the plants in apartments does not work.

After cleaning, the plants not only look better and more vital, but they can also breathe better thanks to the pores that have now been freed from deposits and dust. The cleaning thus also serves the health of the plant and is an important measure to prevent diseases and plant pests. The intervals at which you should clean your indoor plants depends on their location.

In densely populated cities, the leaves of plants can quickly become dirty or even greasy if you don't clean them every two to four weeks. In some rural areas or near the coast, a visible layer of dust takes months to deposit on the leaves. It makes sense to check your plants at least once a month and then ideally clean the leaves right away. On this occasion you shouldn't miss to examine the houseplants for a possible infestation of diseases and plant pests.

Showering the houseplants

Small plants can be showered quickly and easily with lukewarm water in the tub or shower. The shower should have fine jets and the water should be at room temperature, if possible. No additional detergent is required. When showering the plants, it is also important to rinse the underside of the leaves thoroughly. After the shower, let the cleaned plant stand for a few minutes in the shower tray so that excess water can run off and does not collect in the saucer.

Large plants with heavy planters are a little more difficult to clean. If they still fit in the shower, you should use this option. In summer you can also shower the plants on the terrace or in the garden. It is not recommended in winter, the cold shock would cause serious damage to the beloved plants.

If the plant cannot be removed from its place or is very difficult to remove, the leaves must be washed off with a sponge or a soft cloth. The individual sheet is supported with one hand while carefully wiping the surface and underside with the other hand. The undersides are usually not so heavily soiled with dust, so you only wipe them lightly.

Young, tender leaves should not be cleaned like this, as they are too soft, brittle and sensitive. In addition, no large drops of water are allowed to stand on the leaves, on branches or in the axils between the shoots and petioles of the plants. Drops of water that dry there can lead to staining or, in the worst case, to rot.

Indoor plants that are difficult to clean

Indoor plants with hairy or scaly leaves and plants with a waxy or powdery hoop are harder to clean. Plants with should not be roughly showered or even wiped off. It is best to spray these plants lightly and then shake the remaining drops of water from the leaves.

Scaly and waxy or powdery leaves must not be wiped off under any circumstances. Such plants are particularly carefully sprayed and a slight shaking off the moisture is the utmost that such an easily vulnerable surface can handle.

Leaf gloss

Some people find glossy leaves on indoor plants more attractive. Old home remedies for rubbing the leaves are milk, beer, or vegetable oil. We strongly advise against such treatment, as it can cause considerable damage to the plants in a wide variety of ways.

We also give the same advice for commercially available leaf gloss agents that are applied with a cloth or sprayed on the plant. Such agents give the leaves an unnatural shine and lead to discoloration of the leaves of some plants - especially at low temperatures.

If you still don't want to do without such products, you should treat your plants with them as rarely as possible. Under no circumstances should the undersides of the leaves be sprayed. This would clog the stomata; the plant is prevented from exchanging gas.

Clean planters and the surface of the soil

When examining and cleaning your houseplants, you should also use this opportunity to check the pots and soil. Old fallen leaves and plant residues are carefully collected as they offer good hiding places for pests and promote diseases such as fungi or mold.

If the surface of the earth is covered with a white crust, this can be a sign of very hard irrigation water or salinisation due to excessive fertilization. White, crusty deposits on the outer wall of clay pots indicate the same grievances. In such a case, it makes sense to repot the plants at the next opportunity and put them in a fresh substrate.

A furry algae coating on the ground or a low coating of liverworts on the substrate is usually due to excessive watering or poor drainage. In this case, the plant will be watered more sparingly in the future, or the sagging, compacted substrate will be replaced with fresh, loose soil.

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