Keep Your Houseplants Clean

house plant flickr

Photo courtesy of saschaaa at Flickr.com.

If you’ve ever snickered when you noticed someone carefully cleaning the leaves of the potted plants scattered around an office building, the joke’s on you. While it may seem silly to dust a plant’s leaves, there’s actually a reason for it that goes beyond mere tidiness.

You see, plants inhale carbon dioxide through tiny openings in their leaves called stomata. They then use light, in conjunction with chlorophyll, to break apart the carbon and oxygen molecules and mix them with the hydrogen from water to create carbohydrates and pure oxygen. This is known as photosynthesis, and it’s the basis of our planet’s entire food chain. When a plant gets dusty or grimy, the stomata become clogged, and sunlight has a harder time penetrating the leaves to power photosynthesis. Basically, it begins to starve.

So believe it or not, if you dust your houseplants regularly, this will not only make them look nice, it will stimulate growth and help them resist any pests that might make their way indoors. What’s in it for you? Besides the beauty of healthy plants, you get to enjoy fresh, clean air. Houseplants do a bang-up job of filtering out indoor pollutants and upping the oxygen content of a room—and all they ask in return is some water, the carbon dioxide from your breath, and a little attention.