A layer of dust on the leaves can block the light and stress your plants
You are dust and you will become dust again … that’s why I don’t dust my house: it could be someone I knew. Dust gives spectacular sunsets, among other things, but dust can be a killer for your houseplants.
Because plants produce chemical energy from sunlight, a layer of dust on the leaves can block light and stress your plants. When this happens, houseplants give off less oxygen and you lose some of the health benefits of having houseplants. Lack of sunlight will eventually kill the plants.
How often you dust your plants depends on how dusty your house is. Open windows and dry temperatures tend to create more dust inside.
For plants with smooth leaves, simply use lukewarm water and a soft cloth, and gently wipe the leaves. A soft sponge or soft microfiber cloth like the one used to polish cars may be ideal. Rinse the sponge or microfiber cloth regularly to avoid spreading damp dust on the leaves. If the leaves are particularly dirty or have encrusted dirt, you can add a drop or two of mild dish detergent to the water. Finish off with plain water and make sure to wipe off any soap residue.
You can put hardy plants in the sink and rinse them under a gentle stream of lukewarm water. Adjust the water pressure so that it is low enough not to damage the leaves or break the stems. Large plants can be gently rinsed in the shower. Let the houseplant dry in the sink before putting it back in its usual place.
A feather duster or even a small brush are great for dusting succulents, cacti, or hairy leafy plants like African violets (Saintpaulia). Lightly brush dust from the stem outward onto the leaf.
Never use leaf shine products to polish the leaves of houseplants, as they often clog the pores of the leaves and stop photosynthesis.
When dusting the plants, support each leaf with one hand so you don’t accidentally break or damage the leaves or stems.
While you are dusting your plants, this is a good time to inspect them for pests as well as dead or broken leaves and stems. Insects often hide under the leaves, so gently bend the leaves and look for insects. Pay special attention to where the leaves attach to the stems, as this is a common place for insects.
If you find straps, it could be a sign of spider mites. Diseases often appear as spots on the leaves, so be on the lookout for spots or discolored parts of the leaves.
Fallen leaves are not only unsightly; they can harbor parasites. Cutting off dead leaves not only improves the appearance of the plant; it allows more nutrients to reach the remaining leaves. Trimming stems and dead leaves also allows for better air circulation and prevents mold.
Clean around your houseplants and dust them regularly. You will enjoy healthier plants that give off more oxygen. After all, you don’t want them to die, or as cowboys say, to bite the dust.