Inside or outside it is time to get our hands dirty. Gotta love spring! After having been closed up through the winter here in Michigan and dreaming of things to do this season in the garden outside it seem that all of a sudden the snow is gone and the dirt is warming up. I remind myself that my houseplants also need attention so I have a list of what I can accomplish before heading outside.
Take a look at which of your plants have produced babies, runners, side shoots, etc and decide what you may want to divide and repot into several pots or decide what plant may just need a bigger pot if overcrowded. Locate new or clean pots, have proper medium ready for proper plant and get busy.
Clean the dust off the leaves so the plant can circulate oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor in and out of the tiny openings called stomata in the plants stem and leaves so it can ‘breathe’ and grow.
The leaves of my Clivia, shown here, are often in need of dusting as they are so wide and firm and collect the living room dust more than the table it sits on. These can be wiped gently with a cloth dampened with water.
If it is a very warm spring day, 70+, you can set nearly any houseplant – remember they come from nature – out in a gentle spring shower. You could even put your plant in the bathroom shower. Be sure to bring it in before the sun returns or the temps get too cool.
If you bathe your plants every few weeks through the winter months you will have an excellent start against the battle of the bug so it’s a good practice year round. A plant with soft, delicate leaves require a very gentle touch. You can fill a bucket with water a temperature warmer than the room, hold the plant upside down being careful to put your hand, or aluminum foil perhaps, over the dirt so it does not come out of the pot and gently swirl it around in the water. Do this job early in the day then let your plant dry in a place with good air circulation and away from direct sunlight. The sun can burn the leaves when they’re wet. Plants with very fuzzy leaves like an African Violet need more than a gentle touch. A feather duster or soft paint brush will do it. No water for their leaves. For dust on your cactus, watch for dust you could remove with tweezers or mist with a spray bottle of water. Cactus, too, will burn in the sun when wet so wait until dry before placing in the sun.
Both you and your plants will appreciate the spring cleaning chore of keeping your windows clean so they will benefit from the best sunlight.
Once your houseplants show new growth activity or if you’ve had sufficient time to increase the watering schedules of more dormant plants like the Clivia or Caladuim and see new growth there you can clean the soil of built up mineral deposits, that white crust on the surface of the soil, by placing your plant in a sink, or outside if warm enough, where it can drain. Then run a lot of tepid water through. Other than re-potting into fresh medium this is a fine way to temporarily freshen up the soil.
If your pot has a thick unsightly build up of mineral deposits you may choose to re-pot the plant with fresh medium and thoroughly clean the pot before re-potting. Gently remove the plant, clean away the remaining dirt and debris. Soak the pot in water a few minutes and wipe with a rag. Saucers need cleaning too. For serious deposits you’ll need to get serious. This can be done with white vinegar bought by the gallon. Fill a bucket or sink with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water or for really tough deposits more vinegar. Soak your pot for a few hours. If they don’t wipe clean you may have to use some elbow grease and a toothbrush or scrubby. Rinse with clear water and air dry.
For any pot that you have worries of fungus or other disease you could go the extra mile and bake the pot in the oven if baked clay or a run through the heat of your dishwasher if small enough. Your pot is ready for fresh soil and your plant is ready for spring.