Published on March 5, 2020

Maybe you accidentally kept a sun-loving monstera in the shade for too long or overwatered your ponytail palm; light- and H20-related slipups are common. But according to Bloomscape’s resident plant mom, Joyce Mast, there’s a lesser-known care tip we’re overlooking. Are you dusting your plants? 

Frequent leaf cleaning is imperative in the winter, when your plants go into a state of dormancy and find themselves more vulnerable to insect attacks. “They love to hide out in the dust on the leaves,” says Mast. The fix is simple: Wipe the leaves down regularly with a damp cloth, and be sure to remove any dead (or yellowing) greenery with a pair of sharp scissors to nip the problem in the (very literal) bud. 

Here’s the thing: We love our houseplants, but not to the extent that we’re always hovering nearby with a dishcloth at the ready. We figured there must be some preventative steps to take—and Mast delivered. She shares her tips for keeping the dirt (and accompanying bugs) to a minimum.

Do: House Them Strategically 

It should go without saying, but don’t keep your plants in the attic. Similarly, enclosed areas like closets or small, windowless bathrooms are a no-no; instead, opt for open, humid environments like the kitchen or even the laundry room.  

Don’t: Think All Greenery Is Created Equal

As charming as they may be, fiddle-leaf figs have a bad track record when it comes to insect problems. “Their extra-large leaves hold more dust,” explains Mast. To cut down on the upkeep, choose greenery like ZZs and sansevierias. “Not much affects either of these bulletproof plants,” says the expert.

Do: Treat Them to a Spa Day

Houseplants deserve baths, too. Mast suggests placing them in either the tub or sink at least once every four weeks, making sure to spray down the foliage with lukewarm water each time. “The gentle rain will remove debris from the leaves and give them some moisture,” she notes. Between showers, give them a quick spritz. Similar to how your 4 p.m. facial mist gives you a jolt of energy, it will give your potted pals a nice little boost. 

Don’t: Discount the Power of a Humidifier

It will prevent your skin and your pothos from drying out—especially during the colder months, when heaters and fireplaces make for quite the arid environment. Mast also likes to layer pebbles in a shallow container for the plant to sit on top of. As the liquid evaporates, it will increase the moisture in the air. 

To take it a step further, group a bunch of greens together to form a microclimate of sorts. It will also create a mini greenhouse in your very own living room, says Mast. The more, the merrier. 

See more plant-care tips:
5 Things I Learned From a Session With an NYC Plant Doctor
Your Plants Are Singing—Are You Listening? 
I Discovered This $8 Plant Hack by Accident—But It Actually Works

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