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Caring for Houseplants | My Routine

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The common houseplant is a great way to add life to your home with relatively little maintenance. BUT (isn’t there always a “but”?) you may be surprised to learn that grooming your houseplants can be one of the most time-consuming parts of caring for them, and with good reason. Proper grooming takes time and keeps plants healthy, which significantly enhances their appearance. So whether you already have one, two, fifty, or ZERO houseplants…what I am about to share is essential.

Plants Require Care

It’s true. They are alive and much like you, me or our pets…they require love, care, and nutrients (food, sunshine, water, cleaning, etc.). So, if your life is too full right now with other responsibilities, give this serious thought–your future plant deserves that. If you are new to growing and raising houseplants, before you buy one single plant, make sure your mindset is healthy. What I mean is that if you continue to keep telling yourself that you have a “black thumb” or that you’ve killed every plant you’ve ever owned, snatch those thoughts and flush them down the toilet. You will want to enter this new adventure with a positive outlook, because trust me: our words influence our outcomes.

The Benefits of Plant Care

Benefits for the plant:

Benefits for the plant owner:

Clean leaves help with photosynthesis.

Clean leaves are essential for the well-being of plants.

Clean leaves reduce pests.

How often do I need to clean my plants?

It depends on how much dust is in your air. If you live around dirt roads, construction, or have a lot of wind, you will need to clean your houseplants more often. The best way to tell if a plant needs cleaning is to rub your fingers on the leaves. If you can feel or see dust more dust than you can blow off the leaves, it’s time to clean. I always check mine as I water them.

This plant was relatively clean plant to the naked eye… as you can see, there was a lot of dust on the leaves, which slows down growth as the dust blocks photosynthesis.

How to clean your plants

Over a period of time, indoor plants will accumulate dust. If your collection of antique milk jars collect dust, why wouldn’t your plant leaves?  Keeping the pot, soil, and leaves of your plants free of dust and contaminants makes them not only look more attractive (healthy), it helps with pest control. Thoroughly examine all plant parts and containers every time you water the plant. I recommend a magnifying lens, as some pests are tiny.  A ten-power hand magnifying lens is helpful when looking for pests. There are also magnifier apps for smartphones.

Be aware of cross-contamination

To avoid cross-contamination, be sure to make the following suggestions HABITS.

Tools I Use for Plant Care


Paper towels or lint-free rags

Rubbing alcohol solution

Neem oil solution

Spray bottle of plain water

My routine for cleaning my plants.

  1. Bring the plant to a well-lit area.
  2. Thoroughly check the plant for pests: top of leaves, underneath the leaves, the crotch where the leaves attach to the stems, the stems at the base of the plant, the soil, and the plant pot itself.
  3. If the plant is free from pests, I use plain water and a rag to clean the leaves.
    • I spritz the leaves with water and dry each one with the cloth. I prefer not to use any leaf-shine products, since a lot of them clog the pores of the leaves.
    • Check to see if the plant needs watering.
    • Look for any possible signs of issues, the health of the leaves and roots.
  4. Clean any dried and dead debris from the base of the plant. Dead leaves attract issues.
  5. Remove any dying or diseased leaves.
  6. If it gets a clean bill of health, return it to its home.

My routine should I find pests.

  1. If you spot a pest, know that where there is one, there is more, so it’s appropriate to give the plant a treatment.
    • Take the plant to the sink, tub, or outside, and spray the plant down with lukewarm water.  Spraying plants with a forceful stream of water can be effective in removing and drowning insects such as aphids, mealybugs, crawlers (scale insects), and spider mites. Focusing the stream of water on the undersides of leaves where most insect pests are found is essential. If the soil is already wet, wrap plastic wrap around the base of the plant to avoid overwatering the plant during the process.
    • Next, I spray the plant with an alcohol solution. Be sure to spray the top of the soil and the potting container as well. Bugs like to hide. If you suspect an infestation, water the plant (if needed) then pour 1 cup of the alcohol solution into the soil. Don’t just dump it in one spot; water the complete top of the soil. The alcohol will help kill the eggs/larvae, and it also aerates the soil, which brings oxygen to the roots.
    • Spray it with the neem oil solution. I saturate it, so it’s best to do this either outside (weather permitting) or in the tub/shower. Be sure to soak the top of the soil too.
    • Isolate the plant, so the pests don’t spread.
    • When applied as a preventative, neem oil should be applied every 7 to 14 days. To control a pest or disease already present, a 7-day application is recommended.
  2. Plant trimming: If a pest infestation is severe, the injured parts of the plants can be removed to permit regrowth and recovery. This method works best when followed by repeated washing or pest control.
  3. Plant disposal: If the plant is heavily infested with a pest, disposing of it may be the best solution. It will be a sad day, but one must view the quality of life and move on.

I hope you found all of this to be helpful. There is so much to learn when it comes to plant care. My routine may differ from yours, and that’s okay. Please leave a comment below and have a blessed day, amie sue

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