Freshen Up Your Houseplants
- spring cleaning tips for healthy houseplants -

Posted on March 12, 2018

Freshen Up Your Houseplants

Whether they live indoors or outdoors, most plants take a break over the winter months, when colder weather and shorter days slow their growth. Even though houseplants aren’t as actively growing, the months of dry indoor air and dim light can take a toll. Your plants will eventually flourish again, once the hours of daylight grow longer, but you can easily give them a healthy head start for spring. This is a great time freshen up your houseplants and reassess how they best fit into your home décor.

Cleaning houseplant leaves

The first step is to give your houseplants a good spring cleaning. Wipe dust and grime from leaves with a damp sponge or paper towel. Rinse the sponge in mildly soapy water in between plants, or use a fresh paper towel, to avoid the possibility of spreading pests. Take time as you clean to check for the most common houseplant pests: spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale. Examine the top and bottom of the plants' leaves for discoloration, webs, or any sort of sticky or dirt-like substance. These could be a sign of pests. If you suspect pests, use a handheld magnifying glass to look for eggs, cast-off skins, or the pests themselves. Also, some insects secrete a shiny, tacky substance on the leaves. You should continue to wipe down any pest-infested plants every time you water, until all signs of the insects are gone.

Use a magnifying glass to inspect houseplants for pests.

Plants with dead leaves or damaged stems should be cleaned up. Use sharp pruners, scissors or, for tender growth, you can pinch off the dead part with your fingers. Even if they look healthy, some houseplants benefit from a spring pruning, either to shape, control growth, or collect cuttings to grow new plants for you and your friends. Research your houseplant's specific pruning requirements before you start cutting it back, and remember, always pinch back just above a leaf node to encourage fullness in your plant. Do not prune blooming houseplants until after they have completed flowering, otherwise you might clip off tiny flower buds that are just forming.

Trim dead foliage off of houseplants.

You may have laid off on fertilizer during the winter months. The best time to begin fertilizing again is in the early spring when you see new growth starting. As the weather warms up and the nights stay consistently above 55 degrees F (13 C), you can consider putting your houseplants outside. Place your plant in a partially shaded location. After months of living indoors, even tropical houseplants will do better placed out of the direct sun.

Spring is a great time to repot houseplants. Soil left too long can develop an unhealthy buildup of salts and minerals, harbor diseases and pests, and become too compacted to drain well. Repotting is also a chance to pick out a new container - a simple, inexpensive way to spruce up your home décor with a new color or style! Check here to learn how to repot your houseplant.

Repotting a houseplant

New pots aren't the only way to give your houseplants and your home a fresh look. Consider moving your houseplants to a different room, investing in a stylish indoor potting bench or stand on which to display them, or hanging a few with trendy, retro 1970s-style macramé plant hangers. And don't be afraid to replace a tired old plant with a new one. Over time some plants just get scrawny, leggy, and unattractive. Spring is a great time to try something new!

Spring means new life, and that doesn't have to be restricted to the garden. By revitalizing your houseplants after winter, you'll be preparing them for a season of healthy growth and bringing the beauty of nature to your home décor.

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Common Houseplant Pests

Mealy Bugs

Mealy Bug

White cottony masses found along the stems and underneath the leaves are actually soft-bodied insects. Mealy bugs use their sharp mouth parts to pierce plant tissue and feed on sap.

Spider Mites

Spider Mite

Plant symptoms include webbed areas and yellowing foliage. Spider mites feed and lay eggs on the underside of leaves. They’re quite tiny; use a magnifier to inspect plant.



Smooth, rounded bumps along stems and on leaves are the protective shells of the scale insect. Scale use their needle-like mouth parts to feed on plant sap, so they can remain in one location for a long time.

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