Date: April 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Horticulturists
Dust quickly accumulates on leaves of most indoor green plants. You should regularly dust plant leaves to improve growth and appearance.
Leaves covered with dust do not function efficiently. A thin layer of dust will reduce available light and reduces the plant's ability to make food. This results in reduced growth and unattractive leaves.
You can clean leaves once or twice a month. Use a soft camel's hair brush, a damp cloth, a sponge or simply spray plants with room temperature water. Place small and medium sized plants under the faucet in the kitchen sink or given them a shower in the bathtub.
An added benefit for cleaning plants is that you can remove many insects from the plant. This is true for many of the sucking insects such as aphids and two spotted mites. You can simplify your insect control program with bimonthly applications of a forceful stream of water.
Several chemical leaf polishes are available from retail stores, but remember to thoroughly water the soil several hours before applying them. Apply a very light film to mature foliage. Heavy coverings, especially on young leaves, tend to stunt further development of the foliage.
Use a soft cheese cloth on large specimen leaves to get a high shine and to remove dust. The natural oils in leaves help produce a high and attractive gloss. This provides a much more natural look than many of the chemical leaf polishes.
Remove yellowing and dead leaves from the plant. This will improve the plant's appearance and prevent some common disease organisms from attacking weakened portions.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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