‘Spring is here! I’m so excited I wet my plants.’
Ahhh, Spring! It’s one of our favourite seasons for so many reasons, one of the main ones being that as the days get longer, brighter and warmer, our houseplants are going to be getting ready and raring to go for their time in the sun.
Haircut and wipe down
For the majority of houseplants we have in the UK, Spring marks the start of their main growing season - this is the time when you’re getting to get lots of lush new leaves bursting into life (and maybe even some flowers if your plant is of that persuasion), and if you’re feeling like flexing your green fingers then there’s plenty of things you can do to maximise this.
As well as Spring being the best time to repot, it’s also a great time to clean up your plant act - give your plant babies a spring clean with a good haircut and wiping down big leaves will not only make your plant look a lot tidier, it will help boost growth too.
So where to start? First things first, giving your plant a trim. It can be hard to hear, but any leaves that have gone brown or yellow, or stems that are bent or wizened aren’t coming back - the best thing you can do is remove them. When someone points out a brown leaf, I point at one of my split ends. What would you do? Cut it off!
"When someone points out a brown leaf, I point at one of my split ends. What would you do? Cut it off!"
Always remove dead or broken leaves and stems – it stops the plant putting their energy into old leaves and allows them to concentrate on new growth. Cut as close to the stem as possible but never right against it. If you’re pruning for growth, step back and look at its shape and imagine what you want it to be.
Don’t get too over excited and try not to cut off more than a quarter of your plant. Remember - plants are living things and are susceptible to infection and bruising just like us, so always sharp, clean scissors or secateurs to ensure a nice clean cut that will heal (and regrow) quickly!
Time to get cleaning
Once you’ve given your plant a trim, it’s time to get cleaning. It’s important to keep leaves clean. First, so they can carry out their important job of photosynthesis and second, because it makes them look good.
This is really a job you want to keep on top of all year around, but let’s be honest, most of us don’t dust as often as we perhaps ought to, so a thorough clean once a year will help allay any guilty feelings you may have towards your dusting habits.
You can tackle dust on plants just as you would on an ornament, get the dust buster out – aka a damp cloth. A little warm water should be fine, but if the dust won’t budge and they need a good scrub, try a one-third soap-to-water mix. Support the leaf in one hand and gently wipe down with the other.
For succulents and hairy leaves, use a soft toothbrush. If you want to turn over a new leaf with your dusting habits, I’d recommend investing in a feather duster and giving them a once over with it every week or so to keep on top of things.
The cherry on top
Finally, once you’ve dusted your leaves down, you can put the cherry on top with a bit of plant polishing. Polished leaves are your fast track to a super-slick plant baby, and the key to those super glossy plants all over social media that make you green with envy.
Any broad-leafed plants like monsteras, philodendrons and alocasias will benefit from this kind of glow up, and there are lots of different methods to help you achieve an Instagram-worthy green gang.
There are some great plant-safe leaf shine sprays available which are a really quick and easy fix, but there’s also plenty of natural options out there too which work just as well and are cheap and easy to get hold of.
"Think of it as a nice relaxing facial for your houseplants"
My nonna liked to use milk on her fig. Mayonnaise or olive oil are other inexpensive shiners – just watch out for dust as it can be a bit sticky. Simply apply to the topside of the leaf and wipe off with a clean dry cloth - wax on, wax off. Leave the undersides and young leaves alone and make sure you are really gentle, there’s no need to press down too hard, think of it as a nice relaxing facial for your houseplants.
It might sound like a long list of tasks to add to your Spring cleaning schedule but it really is quite a quick fix for the returns you’ll get, we promise you that your plant babies will really thank you for the special treatment!
By Nik Southern
Thanks to Nik Southern, founder of Grace & Thorn, for writing for this post.
About Grace & Thorn:
Grace & Thorn are the rule breaking florist renowned for off-beat approach to floral and plant styling. We have a flagship store in Hackney full of wonderful fresh and dried flowers, houseplants, pots and a wonderful range of lifestyle products (including the Anther + Moss Dalton Pot - which we adore!
When founder, Nik Southern, opened Grace & Thorn in 2011, she was tired of seeing uninspiring rows of houseplants in plastic brown pots next to flowers forced into tight bouquets struggling to breathe, so she decided to do her own thing and bring out the best in plants, ready for their next home and encourage flowers to dance and sing! Since then Grace & Thorn’s philosophy has been simple: help people to see flowers and plants in a different way.