Along the Garden Path: Winter maintenance for your plants


Like any piece of furniture, your houseplants can get dusty also. Keeping plants clean will also prevent disease making for healthy houseplants!

Now is a great time to give your plants a bath. Months of dry, dusty indoor heating, low humidity and lower light have stressed these plants, and many would be grateful for a nice rinse in the tub or shower.

You can remove dust from plants with a soft-bristle paintbrush, soft toothbrush, or pipe cleaner. Stroke from the base of the leaf to the tip to dislodge dust and other debris. You can also clean the leaves of large houseplants by simply wiping them with a moist cloth or damp cotton. Support the leaves with one hand to avoid bruising or cracking them. Do not use oils or polishes to make houseplant leaves shine; they can block pores, which can interfere with a plant’s ability to breathe. Wash houseplants often in lukewarm water to rid them of dust and insects. Don’t use cold water; it may spot leaves. Mix a little dish soap with water and wash the leaves and stems of the plant. Make sure to wash the underside of the leaves as well as the top. Place small houseplants in a sink; wash larger houseplants in a shower. Let plants drip-dry before placing them in the sun.

Remove withered blossoms to keep your houseplants healthy and encourage further blooming. Pick up any flowers that fall on the soil to prevent mold and disease. Additionally, remove all dead or yellowing leaves regularly from your houseplants.

Insects occur when plants aren’t grown under ideal conditions, including poor humidity, lack of or too much light or improper watering. Common insects can be controlled with regular bathings or washings once a month.

Mealybugs are insects that produce a white cottony mass around their body. They distort the new tissue and leaves due to sucking on them. Mealybugs are common on cactus, succulents and many flowering plants.

Spider mites are microscopic spiders that feed by sucking on the underside of leaves and often spin fine webs between leaves and limbs. Spider mites are so small that the only way to determine that a plant is infested with them is to shake the leaf over a white piece of paper.

Scales are brown hard-shelled insects that are about the size of a pin head. They suck the sap from plants, which ruins the new plant tissue.

Rejuvenate your home décor by adding a tropical look with Orchids and Bromeliads. Both plant varieties are an ever-popular potted plant that is readily available in the garden centers and groceries. These tropical plants will give color and beauty for several months and get you into spring when we enjoy those spring time flowers.

By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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