Spring cleaning for your indoor plants

There are all sorts of benefits of owning indoor plants which you may or may not have heard about.

Aside from making your living space more attractive, indoor plants may help reduce stress levels, sharpen your attention, improve your mental health and boost productivity.

Interestingly, studies have found being able to look at plants may speed recovery from illness, injury or surgery, while in a workplace setting they can boost productivity and creativity.

With so many wonderful wellness perks, it’s no wonder people are increasingly becoming foliage fanatics and decking out their homes with greenery. In fact, last year Australians bought more plants than ever, with indoor plant sales rising nine per cent.

So, how do you keep your household plants surviving and thriving? Here are some spring-cleaning tips.

Do a check-up

The first step is simple: just check in with how your plants are doing.

Poke your finger into the soil down to the second joint to test whether it is dry or wet. If dry, adjust your watering habits accordingly.

Consider the appearance of the leaves – are they turning brown or do they look healthy? Is the plant wilting?

Does the plant appear to have outgrown its pot?

Are there signs of pests or diseases that need to be addressed?

Review their lighting needs

Next, consider moving your household plants around, based on how much sunlight they will need in the coming months.

Most plants come labelled with information about their sunlight preferences (bright, indirect or low light), but if you’ve lost the label, do some online research. 

If you own varieties that don’t like too much sun, you may want to reposition them before the harsh Australian summer kicks in.

Clean the leaves

The tiny holes in your plants’ leaves can get blocked by dust, making it difficult for the plant to ‘breathe’. For this reason, it’s important to give your plants’ leaves a thorough clean at least once a year.

  • Big, shiny leaves: Use a damp cloth to gently clean each leaf.
  • Hairy or fuzzy leaves: Use a soft paintbrush to carefully remove dust and build up. Water is best avoided, as it can leave spots.
  • Cacti: Use an air-compressor to remove dust. Again, water is best avoided for plants like these that thrive in hot, dry conditions.
  • Other plants: Wash them down in the shower with lukewarm water or outside with a soft hose.

Repot if ready, refresh if not

Your plant may have outgrown its home if:

  • The roots are poking out of the drainage hole
  • The plant is pushing up and out of the planter
  • The growth rate has slowed
  • The soil is drying out quicker
  • You can see salt and mineral build-up on the soil

When repotting, choose a pot that is one size up from the existing one. Too big, and the plant will not be able to dry out the soil between watering.

If your plants seem happy where they are, you can still give them some love by removing yellow, brown or dead leaves and aerating the soil.

Tip: Use a chopstick or something similar to poke holes in the soil and ensure nutrients reach the roots. Next, add some fresh potting mix to give your green babies a boost.

Consider adding fertiliser

Like all living things, plants need nutrients to thrive. You may need some fertiliser to help in this department.

There are a range of options available, from liquid and soluble fertilisers, to organic fertiliser and slow-release fertiliser or specialised ones. There are also natural solutions like ground up eggshells. Talk to your local nursery for advice. 

As the weather warms up, it’s safe to move, dust, repot, fertilise and water your plants without risking too much shock. Give your houseplants some TLC in the spring to gently bring them out of dormancy and keep them looking at their best – a little love will go a long way!

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