One aspect of plant care that people often don’t consider is washing them. Yes, washing your plants is actually very important. It doesn’t take long for dirt and dust to accumulate on leaves, and the grime will begin to block sunlight. Plants need sunlight to make their food, so you’ll eventually have a stressed plant that cannot feed itself properly. Since stressed plants are much more susceptible to disease, failing to keep them clean can invite some pretty major health problems. Washing your plants regularly also helps to remove pests, which attack and weaken them.
How often you’ll need to wash your plants will depend on how much dust is in the air around your home. Those who live in busy construction areas or roadways may find that they need to wash their plants much more often. A good rule of thumb is to rub the leaves with your fingers. It’s time to wash your plants when you can see or feel more dirt than you can blow off the leaves.
So how do you wash your plants? It’s actually quite simple. You’ll need to use lukewarm water, since very cold or very hot water can damage sensitive leaves. Water alone can be helpful but simple mixtures give the plants exactly what they are looking for. Mix about one teaspoon of mild dish soap with one quart of water in a spray bottle, and spray the leaves of your plants thoroughly. Be careful not to use a soap that contains a degreaser, because this ingredient can cut into the leaf cuticle and damage it. You can rinse with the garden hose if you wish, but be careful using a hard spray on delicate plants.
Remember that washing your plants is a preventive measure. It will take a few minutes out of your day, but it can be a real time saver (and money saver!) in the long run. While you’re washing your plants anyway, go ahead and use this time to inspect them carefully. If you see signs of advanced disease or a pest problem, call us and we’ll be happy to help you get your plants healthy again.