Grooming Houseplants Keeps Them Healthy

Regularly grooming houseplants is necessary to keep them healthy and attractive.

Keep plants looking good by neatly trimming off brown tips, removing all spent flowers (deadheading), dying leaves, and any dead and yellowing plant parts.

It is also critical that you remove any debris that could harbor bacteria from the soil. This will reduce the chances of pests and diseases.

A pair of handheld pruners can be used to snip off dying leaves and flowers. Use sharp scissors to trim and shape brown leaf tips to a natural look.

Keep plant pores open because they breathe through the pores (stomata) in their leaves. Remove grease and dust off large leaves with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water.

Wash small-leaved plants with a gentle spray of warm water and mild soap -- except those with fuzzy or hairy leaves. These plants don't like to get their leaves wet (use a soft brush to remove dust).

Grooming Houseplants for Balance

Plants have a tendency to grow toward the source of light which could cause them to become lopsided and may topple over. To avoid a distorted plant, rotate them occasionally -- more frequently if they are fast growers. It is good practice to give a plant a quarter turn each time you water it.

Pinch for Growth and Beauty

Pinching is done by using the fingernails of the thumb and forefinger to remove about a half inch of the growing stem tips. Pinch buds to promote compact, bushy plants and produce more buds to yield an abundance of flowers. This is a great way to keep plants attractive, especially for plants like coleus that are grown for their colorful leaves.

Mulching Indoor Houseplants

Mulch can be organic and lightweight Spanish moss (gray) or sheet moss (green), bark chips, pebbles or glass rock. Mulch from coconut works great for indoors also. Cedar mulch keeps insects out of the plants and it has a nice fragrance.

Grooming houseplants by mulching is good for reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. It gives a clean appearance to the plant by hiding the dirt and preventing the soil from washing out when you water.

Plus, it adds a finishing touch to give plants that “dressed-up” look when used as decorative focal points. It is good for preventing pets from digging in the soil and decimating your plants.

Note: Be careful not to overwater when using mulch with indoor houseplants. Use a moisture meter to thoroughly check the moisture level, because it may be dry on top and soaking wet at the bottom. Remember, overwatering will cause root rot and kill your plant.

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