The Importance of Keeping your Leaves Clean

The Importance of Keeping your Leaves Clean

The Importance of Keeping your Leaves Clean

Love it or loathe it, cleaning is one of life’s certainties. We clean the house, the car, the clothes, and the dog, but did you know we need to clean our houseplants too? Over time, they collect dust and dirt which inhibits vital life processes, not to mention dusty leaves are not the prettiest thing to look at. Having one more thing to clean may seem like a chore, but trust us, your plants will be happier, healthier, and infinitely more beautiful as a result.

Why should I clean my plants?

Improves photosynthesis

Like most surfaces in your home, leaves collect dust particles over time which block the sunlight that all plants need for photosynthesis. This crucial process is how plants transform nutrients and water into energy. Without adequate sunlight, they become significantly weakened (Dobrijevic, 2022). Clearing dust build-ups regularly means your plants will photosynthesise efficiently, creating healthy, stress-free plants (Barbano, 2021). 

Allows plants to breathe

Just like us, plants need to ‘breathe’. Their leaves are studded with tiny pores called stomata, which act as mini lungs, enabling both oxygen respiration and transpiration of water vapours (Earth Smart, 2017). If these pores are smothered in dust and dirt, your plant will struggle to ‘breathe’ efficiently, becoming weaker over time and leaving it susceptible to a whole host of other problems such as root rot or fungal disease.

Prevents pests and disease 

Proactively cleaning your plants eradicates the dust and debris that pests just LOVE to lay their eggs in, as well as any bacteria that could develop into fungal diseases. It also removes any dormant eggs or larvae before they hatch (Anon, 2021). Pay special attention to the undersides of leaves when cleaning, since this is where most pests lay their eggs. For extra protection, add a little Neem oil to your normal cleaning routine occasionally. This organic oil has residual anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that protect against future problems and leaves foliage irresistibly glossy (Vinje, 2022). 

How and when to clean my plants?

Try to get into the habit of cleaning your plants regularly by incorporating it into your normal weekly or bi-weekly household cleaning routine. It’s also a good opportunity to check up on the overall health of your plants as you inspect them while you clean. 

Give smooth-leaved plants a thorough clean by wiping each leaf and stem with a lightly wet microfibre cloth. They will pick up dust and dirt easily with their irregular texture, whilst being soft enough not to damage the plant. If you're a houseplant hoarder with a huge collection, you can save time by cramming several into the shower at once, or giving them a good hose down outside and allowing them to dry fully afterwards.

For delicate plants or intricate foliage, soft dusters, soft-bristled brushes, and even paintbrushes are ideal for reaching all the nooks and crannies in irregular or fragile leaves. Not all plants tolerate wet foliage, so use a dry cloth, brush, or duster for any moisture-averse plants like Orchids. Similarly, plants with fuzzy or uneven leaves are notorious for holding on to moisture, which can then breed harmful bacteria or fungus, so stick to a dry wipe for these as well (Abramson, 2022). Before you know it, your plants will be restored to their thriving, glossy green glory!

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