Even the most dedicated plant enthusiasts sometimes forget that their houseplants are living, breathing creatures and could use a little extra TLC.
One of the most common issues that an indoor plant faces is dust buildup.
Too much dust on a plant’s leaves can clog the stomata, which are tiny pores that absorb carbon dioxide, and may also absorb harmful gasses such as formaldehyde if the plant is an air purifier.
Dust can also cause the plant to look dull and affect variegation as the layers block out more sunlight and require the plant to activate different chloroplasts.
Commercial leaf shine products are a popular option but don’t really benefit the plant.
Instead, consider cleaning your leaves using neem oil.
How To Use A Neem Oil Solution To Clean Plant Leaves
You can use a neem oil spray on a soft cloth to clean, shine, and protect your plants all at once.
Simply spray the cloth and wipe down the leaves for great results.
The Basics of Leaf Cleaning
Unlike the ones in your garden, indoor plants lack the benefit of rain, which serves to naturally bathe the plant and keep it clean. More on Cleaning Houseplants.
As a result, you’ll need to clean your plants at the beginning and end of their growing season for plants with numerous tiny leaves (such as pothos or spider plants) but may need to wipe some large-leafed plants (ex. varieties of peperomia and heartland philodendron) monthly.
A lot of guides suggest sticking the plant in your shower, but this is a bad idea for plants that are easily waterlogged, as excess water may cause stem or root rot.
Instead, it is a good idea to carefully wrap some plastic wrap around the base of the plant to cover the roots and soil, then use a spray bottle filled with warm water to thoroughly dampen the plant.
Note that plants with numerous small leaves will often only need to be sprayed, but those with larger, dust-attracting leaves will need an additional step.
Dampen a soft cloth and go over the plant, wiping down each leaf gently and frequently rinsing the cloth until the plant is dust-free.
Why Choose Neem Oil?
The neem plant, Azadirachta indica, is the sole producer of neem oil, which is primarily extracted by cold-pressing the seeds of the Neem tree. But the oil is also present in the neem leaf, branch, and fruit.
Pure Neem oil contains five active insecticidal compounds, the most famous of which is Azadirachtin.
In many cases, the Azadirachtin is extracted from raw neem oil for use in other pesticides, resulting in clarified hydrophobic neem oil.
Clarified neem oil contains trace amounts of Azadirachtin and is sold in .5 to 3% percent concentrations.
This version of neem oil has less chance of causing damaged leaves or stems due to chemical burns or allergic reactions and is the primary form used for topical application.
Applying Neem oil foliar sprays helps kill a number of harmful insects, such as spider mites, without leaving behind a residue as insecticidal soap does.
Best of all, neem is perfectly safe around humans, cats, and dogs, making it an ideal treatment method for most indoor plants.
Using Neem as a Leaf Shine
To use neem oil as a leaf shine you’ll need some clarified neem oil, pure Castile liquid soap or Dawn dish detergent to act as an emulsifier and a gallon of water.
Mix a tablespoon of your soap into the water to break down the surface, then add four teaspoons of concentrated neem oil and pour into a spray bottle.
Spritz a damp cloth (preferably microfiber) with the neem oil and gently wipe down the entire plant – each leaf, top, and bottom.
The benefits include instant death to any pests that you didn’t spot (as well as some fungal spores), shinier leaves, and a happier and healthier plant.
Never expose a plant to the direct sun after putting its leaves in water, as this can result in damaged leaves from sunburn.
There are a lot of benefits to both you and your house plants when cleaning them on a regular basis.
It can act as a great way to de-stress and improves the overall health of your plant while allowing it to clean more dangerous toxins and carbon dioxide from the air, resulting in better sleep and health for you and your family.
Also, if you talk or sing to your plant while you bathe it, the stress relief will be even more pronounced while the CO2 you’re releasing encourages the plant to grow.
Just don’t let your family tease you about it.