13 pointers on watering and cleaning your houseplants

From keeping them moist when you're away to giving them the nutrients they need, here are 13 pointers for caring for the houseplants that provide your home with essential greenery.

13 pointers on watering and cleaning your houseplants

1. Give them a good soaking

In spring or summer when the weather is warm and dry, give plants a good soaking at least once a season; it's the easiest way to leach out excess salts and thoroughly moisten the inside of the root mass.

  • Place the plant in the sink or a pail of water and leave it for 15 minutes, or until no more bubbles come to the surface.
  • Let it drain well before putting it on a saucer.

This is also a great way to rehydrate plants that have dried out badly.

2. Insulate before you vacate

Limit moisture loss from your potted plants.

  • Cut rings from several layers of newspaper and moisten them well. Water your plants thoroughly, then place a ring on the soil in each pot.

3. Give plants a wash

Wash away dust, smoke and other residues by giving your plants a shower with lukewarm water. You can also dislodge dirt, especially on fuzzy or prickly leaves, with a hair dryer set on cool or low.

4. Going on vacation?

  • Water your houseplants thoroughly and arrange them, without saucers, on a dampened plush towel in your sink or tub; make sure the drain holes are in contact with the towel.
  • Turn on the cold tap until water drips slowly onto the towel and leave the water on; the moisture in the fabric will be drawn up by the roots.

5. Must you mist?

Contrary to lore, squirting foliage with water is not an efficient way to increase humidity for houseplants.

  • A humidifier works better, for both plants and for people.
  • Misting does, however, help keep leaves clean and fresh, and it's a good way to provide moisture to cuttings that are slowly developing new roots.

6. Feed your ferns

Schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns, gardenias and other acid-loving houseplants.

  • Substitute brewed tea when watering or work wet tea leaves into the soil to give the plants a lush, luxurious look.

7. Give plants a group shower

  • Group together plants that need high humidity and enjoy being spritzed with water.

Keep them separate from cacti and such fuzzy-leaved specimens as African violets, gloxinias and gynuras, whose foliage will discolour if subjected to slow-drying water droplets.

8. Make flower pots hold water longer

  • If your potted houseplants dry out too quickly after watering, when repotting, tuck a damp sponge into the bottom of the pot before filling it with soil.

It will act as a water reservoir and may help prevent a gusher if you accidentally overwater.

9. Shampoo houseplants by hand

Houseplants get dusty, but unlike furniture, they need to breathe.

  • Make a soapy solution with a few drops of dishwashing liquid added to a pot of water, dunk in a cloth and wring it out, then wipe those dusty leaves clean.

10. Give plants a mineral bath

  • Don't throw out that leftover club soda — use it to water your indoor plants.

The minerals in the soda water help green plants grow.

11. Hydrate plants with egg water

After boiling eggs, don't toss the cooking water down the drain.

  • Instead, let it cool and water your houseplants with the nutrient-filled fluid.

12. Never run short

  • Keep a filled plastic water bottle tucked away among groups of houseplants so it will always be handy.
  • If plants are hard to reach, try using a bulb-type turkey baster to dribble water into their pots.

13. Use ice cubes to water

Place them around the soil, but not touching the stem. The ice will melt slowly, releasing water gradually and evenly into the soil.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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