As part of our feature series, Plant Parent Basics, in this article you will learn about the essential plant parent task of dusting.
What does “dusting” my plants mean?
Dusting your house plants simply means to wipe down their leaves (and sometimes stems) to keep them free of dust and debris.
Why is dusting my plants important?
Dust is an enemy of plants in several ways:
It can spoil the appearance of the plant’s leaves.
It blocks leaf pores so that the plant can no longer breathe properly.
It forms a light-blocking screen so that the full effect of daylight is lost, meaning essential processes like photosynthesis cannot function.
It may contain plant-damaging chemicals.
How do I dust my plants?
Small plants can be immersed in a bucket of water, but it is more effective we find to sponge the leaves with clean water. Wash plants early in the day so that they can dry before nightfall. When the foliage is very dirty, it should be lightly dusted with a soft cloth before washing with a sponge. Failure to do this can result in mud when the water dries.
Remember to support the leave in your hand while you wash. Avoid dusting young leaves. Cacti, succulents and plants with hairy leaves should not be sprayed or washed. Instead, use a soft brush (small broom or toothbrush works well) to remove dust.
How often do I need to dust my plants?
It is necessary to dust your plants when it becomes obvious on the foliage (leaves).
What about polishing?
Leaves, even when clean, tends to become dull and tired looking as they age. There are many plant polishing products available. We recommend a product that is specially made for plants, such as a wipe-on liquids and aerosol sprays are available. Aerosols are simple to apply and are the preferred method where there are lots of small leaves. Leaf-shine liquids can be safely used on a wide range of smooth-leaved house plants.
Remember to always read the label instructions; you will find a list of plants that should not be treated with specific products. Also, never polish young leaves by hand and never press down on the leaf’s surface.