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Spring Cleaning For Your Plants

Spring cleaning for your plants
Spring is a magical time of year. Finally, after months of cold weather and gloom, the sun starts shining and new motivation springs up in us.
The turn of the season isn't just good for animals, though; your garden needs a little TLC as well. Below I list some of the basic care to give your plants the best start into the warmer seasons.


Leaves gather dust over time, and as that dust thickens it gets harder and harder for the plant to photosynthesize properly. Lack of good light and photosynthesis can mean an eventual death of the plant.
All plants can benefit from a good shower, and I do mean a literal shower. You may have seen photos on Instagram where people drag all their 30+ plants into their shower, but that's honestly kind of a pain to do it all at once, and usually just done for the photo. It's easier to gradually bring a plant or two into your shower each day. A detachable shower head comes in handy for unwieldy large-leaved plants like fiddle-leaf figs or birds of paradise.
Having your water at the right temperature for this process is VERY important. Freezing cold water can shock the plants and steaming hot water can burn them. You want to aim for room temperature.
If the plant you're watering isn't very quick to dry, like a big fluffy fern with a lot of surface area, consider doing your rinse at night so your plant will be dry by morning and won't have missed out on any daylight.
If you have really hard water and water spots on your plants drive you nuts, consider putting distilled water in a large mister ( like this one) and rinsing them thoroughly in the shower this way.
What about just wiping down the leaves?
If you have plants that are too large to drag into the shower, so many plants it would take you a week to complete, or if you just don't feel like doing the heavy lifting, you can use a damp soft rag or sponge to wipe away dust on leaves. Though this works great for broad leaf plants (like Mother in Law's Tongue), it gets pretty complicated when There's a ton of bushy foliage like ferns or grown-out vines. If you're about to wipe off the leaves, go for it! If it's too much of a task, try the shower method.
QUICK TIP! don't forget to remove any dead or hanging-by-a-thread foliage before showering your plants. Removing this debris before makes clean-up afterward a lot easier so you're not picking wet leaf litter out of your bathtub.

Soil & Pots

Leaves tend to fall in and around the pot as the hardships of winter wear on tropical plants. Low light and dry air take their toll. Dead leaves in the pot may make for good compost some later day, but they're unsightly, so I remove them.
I also like to give my plants a good flush of distilled/RO/rainwater when spring starts to free them of any salt build-up. You can see the salt as it begins to look like a white crust around the top of the soil and the pot.
Spring is also the perfect time to re-pot plants. Even plants that don't appear to be growing in the dead of winter may be working on their roots beneath, and I find many of my plants become root-bound over fall and winter. These plants are begging for bigger pots by early spring! If you see roots snaking out the bottom of your pot, it's time to size up.
Not sure how to re-pot a plant? Tina walks you through it in this video:

Plant Spaces

  By the time spring arrives, your plants have made themselves at home, and their surroundings are probably pretty dirty if you haven't been keeping up with them all winter. Sweep up leaf litter and spilled soil, and if you had any pest infestations over winter, clean EVERYTHING. You never know where crawlers or eggs might be hiding.
Scrub saucers, floors, everything in the area. I even washed the curtains a plant was gently leaning on after I conquered scale insects.
Cleaning saucers and pots is also just generally a good way to spruce up the space. Saucers get especially filthy over time.
Macrame plant hangers are, if you have pets, a surprisingly efficient fur trap; run them over with a vacuum attachment or hand vacuum, and be careful not to suck up string or plant leaves.

Plant Care

Increased light means it's finally okay to fertilize regularly again! Spoil your babies. It's also a great time to propagate, if you enjoy that.
More light also may necessitate moving some plants into new spots. A southern window may have been great for a low-light tropical plant in the dark Michigan winter, but in summer, that same spot in the same window may burn leaves.
Move high light plants into southern windows and lower light plants into east and west exposures.
Warmer weather also means more pests, so keep a watchful eye out and be ready for battle.
The following link from provides a number of details about cultural and pest problems with houseplants:

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