Spring Cleaning: Plant Edition

Spring is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. After a gray, cold winter, spring comes in with warm breezes, brightly colored flowers, and longer days full of sun. (Oh, sweet, sweet sunshine!) This winter has seemed to drag on especially long, with snow coming to Ohio all the way into April.

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April showers bring May flowers…

Another aspect of spring that I love is spring-cleaning. I am a self-professed neat freak and a serious germaphob. Add those two together with my Type A personality and…well, you get the picture. Every spring, I look forward to purging unneeded junk we have acquired over the winter, washing every single sheet and towel in sight, and organizing all of our closets, dressers, and cabinets.

There’s another aspect of spring-cleaning that has been on my mind this year – especially after all of the home renovations we have done over the winter – and that is cleaning my plants. Despite my best efforts to dust them off here and there during the winter, or occasionally give them a good rinse in the sink, many of my plants have a fine layer of drywall dust covering their sweet leaves. With the dust blocking the sun’s rays from the leaves, the plants can’t properly photosynthesize, which inhibits their development and could even cause them to die.

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Poor, dusty leaf…

**I’d like to add that I never thought I would use the word “photosynthesize” in my life – ever – so shout out to Mrs. C, my sophomore year biology teacher, for enduring all of my attitude, eye rolls, and attempted manipulation to not do any work. Turns out I learned something after all!

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Here I am at age 16 with the infamous Mrs. C (dressed as “Proton Woman”), and my BFF – a picture of a picture right out of my high school scrapbook!
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Another shot of “Proton Woman”

Well, that was a fun little aside. *clears throat* ANYWAY….

Needless to say, spring-cleaning my plants has been at the forefront of my mind. However, as this is my first spring with plants, I wasn’t quite sure of the best method(s) to clean them. I read up on many different products and methods, and thought I would give some of them a try!

Spraying with Water

Have you ever watched a four-year-old wash their hands unattended? I watch it – literally – everyday. My son is the worst at WASHING his hands. He thinks that by putting one squirt of soap on his hands and instantly washing it off, he has done his due diligence and his hands are “clean.” (Guys, kids are gross. If you have them, then you understand. If you don’t, then you should be forewarned. Gross. Gross. Gross.)

This is what I feel like happens when I spray my plants with water to clean them. All the water does is move around a little of the dust and dirt on the leaves, but as soon as the water dries, the dust is still there, just dried in the shape of water droplets.

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Old dust and dirt dried in the shape of water droplets on my peace lily

While this method feels easiest and might give you the vibe that something good is happening, I don’t really think it’s very effective in actually cleaning the leaves.

Washing with Water

I have, however, found that washing my plants with water is an effective way to clean the leaves. Typically, I put some water on my fingers or a soft cloth; then gently rub the leaf – both top and bottom – clean. When I’m done with all the leaves, I spray the plant down with the sprayer on my sink, just to rinse off any extra dust or dirt that I might have loosened.

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Peace lily much cleaner and happier after an actual WASH in the water!

I would like to add that both of the water cleaning methods are best done in conjunction with watering. If you wash them in addition to watering your plants, there’s a good chance that they will get overwatered and/or possibly flood.

Dusting Glove

For Christmas, my mom got me a microfiber dusting glove as a joke. She forgot, however, with whom she was dealing. I love the glove, and I actually use it frequently when cleaning around the house. My kids think it’s hilarious, and since the glove is big and blue, we refer to it as the “Cookie Monster Hand.”

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Poor monstera…all covered in dust…

I decided to try the microfiber side of the dusting glove on my plants to see if it might effectively remove dust. I feel like this method is preferable to many of the other methods I tried, and it doesn’t include any products that might potentially block the leaves pores, which clearly does more damage than good.

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All ready to soak in that gorgeous spring sunshine!

Overall, I felt like this method was effective – especially on my plants with bigger leaves such as my monstera, snake plants, or pothos. However, for any plants that have smaller leaves, I’m not sure that the big, bulky glove is as effective, as it can’t get into small crevasses. For smaller leaves, I have found that a microfiber cloth does a great job!

Milk and Water

This is a method that I read about on Instagram. One of the accounts I follow (and please forgive me, I cannot remember whose account I saw this on!) said that she was cleaning her leaves with a mixture that was equal parts water and milk. I had never heard of this (and was also pretty skeptical, as I didn’t want my entire house smelling like sour milk), so I decided to do a little research.

Turns out that this is actually a thing called foliar feeding. Apparently, if you have an empty milk container, you can add water to it before throwing it away and can water your plants with that. Or, you can dilute the milk and spray it on the leaves. (If you have skim milk, you can supposedly put that directly on the leaves.) This process is said to give the plants a nutritional boost; additionally, the milk can serve as an antifungal, and and can even potentially cure some of the fungal issues to which some plants are susceptible. (I found this information here.)

However, there is conflicting opinions about this method. Some people contend that using this method might attract pests and potentially make your house smell like sour milk. (NO THANKS!) Another argument against foliar feeding is that, while using food products like milk might make your plant have shiny leaves, it’s not actually doing anything helpful for the plant itself.

I debated trying this process of cleaning/shining leaves with the milk/water solution, but decided against it. I couldn’t run the risk of my house smelling like sour milk or attracting any unwanted pests. (We are currently facing a “lovely” invasion of springtime ants…so I am currently focused on making my house as un-bug-friendly as possible.)

Vinegar and Water

According to the Garden Report website, a good way to remove hard water stains from leaves is to use a weak vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water). This site claims that if you spray the hard water stains and wipe them away with a soft cloth, this will remove the stains.

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Hard water stains on my Christmas Cactus

I have a Christmas Cactus that I purchased at IKEA that has hard water spots (plus dust on top of that!), so I decided to give it a try. I was really nervous to spray something as acidic as vinegar – even in a diluted form – onto my plants (plus it doesn’t smell great), but I went for it.

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A much cleaner and happier Christmas Cactus

I sprayed the solution on my cactus, and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I was pleasantly surprised to see the hard water spots disappear! I’m honestly not sure if the spots disappeared because of the pressure I used when wiping the leaves , or because of the solution. However, this is definitely a method I would try again.

Treating Scale

I currently have a rubber tree that is fighting scale. It is so sad to watch the spots appear on the under sides of the leaves and then watch the life slowly drain from the leaf. I read online that you can use rubbing alcohol to treat the scale spots, which I have been doing for about a month now. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any improvement.

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Scale up close – GROSS! (Image via BugGuide.net)

My next idea for treating scale was to give neem oil a try. If you haven’t heard of it, neem oil is well known around the plant community, and according to the Today’s Homeowner website:

Neem oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which is native to India. Since ancient times, the neem tree has been prized as a sacred remedy and important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. In the garden, neem oil boasts a powerful insecticidal ingredient, azadirachtin, which makes it a great organic choice for controlling a variety of problems.

Because of all of these fantastic properties, neem oil can be used to combat insects, fungus, and even some kinds of plant disease. Additionally, it’s nontoxic (meaning that it won’t hurt predatory wasps, honeybees, earthworms, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and adult butterflies, as well as being nontoxic to humans, birds, and other animals), organic (meaning it’s plant-based and it’s easy to find a brand that is organically grown), and biodegradable (meaning it breaks down easily and has no lasting residue).

The jury is still out on if the neem oil is going to help with the scale…I’m going to keep applying, though, and will see if I can save my poor little rubber tree!

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After all of these cleaning experiments, I’m pretty sure I have the cleanest plants in Columbus, Ohio. (HA!) But seriously, I have learned a lot, and have gathered some new methods of keeping my plants healthy and happy. I am hoping that all of the cleaning I have done will  help all of my plants have a healthy, happy summer!

What methods do you use to clean your plants? Is there a product that I didn’t try that you swear by? I hope that you’ll take the time to tell me about it in the comments below.

– the {house}plant momma

 

Stump

Before my family and I were even thinking of moving to Columbus, Ohio, I had already scoped out the plant scene here. As part of my search, I stumbled upon Stump’s Italian Village location. The moment I walked into the store, I was surrounded by what can only be described as “art.” The dark walls and carefully placed lighting accentuated the incredible greenery and handmade ceramics all around. I could instantly tell this was a special place.

While I have visited Stump on multiple occasions, including a workshop I took in the fall, I had only had a chance to chat briefly with owners Emily and Brian Kellett. It was a pleasure to sit down with them several weeks ago and learn more about Stump. With Ray, the sweetest shop “mascot” you will ever meet, lying sleepily on the floor at their feet, Emily and Brian shared their story with me.

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Ray was thoroughly unimpressed with my attempts to take her picture…

Before Emily and Brian met, Emily went to school for industrial design with a focus on design research; as part of one of her projects, she researched what the future of garden retail could potentially look like. At the time, many garden centers across the country were having difficulty remaining relevant year-round, as almost all of their sales were made in the spring. Additionally, many garden centers struggled with appealing to people of different generations, ethnicities, etc. Emily traveled around the country, visiting different garden centers, and interviewed owners, employees, and customers about their experiences.

Around that time, Emily and Brian met when some mutual friends invited them both out for drinks. Brian was teaching full-time, going to Ohio State University for his doctorate, and was working to help with the design of Rockmill Brewery. However despite both being insanely busy, the two hit it off and began dating. With their corresponding backgrounds, they dreamed of starting a plant business together.

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At first, Emily and Brian considered running a plant booth at a farmer’s market or owning a plant truck that would host pop-ups in the Columbus area. However, when a retail space became available about two and a half years ago – the space where they are now located in Italian Village – they took a leap of faith and decided to launch their business as a brick and mortar space instead.

“The outside [of the building] was kind of a mess, but it had potential” Emily says, laughing. The building was light gray with green trim, and had lots of cracks in the exterior finish. The inside featured lime green walls and fluorescent lights. (Sounds lovely, right?!) After some TLC from Emily and Brian, along with their friends and family, they transformed the space, and within a month, they opened the shop. (Fun fact: Stump opened its doors exactly one year to the day from when Emily and Brian met.) Less than two years later in February 2017, Stump opened its second location in German Village.

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Stump’s German Village Location

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Working together at Stump only brought Emily and Brian closer together. (Let me tell you how LUCKY they are…because I’m not so sure I could work in such close proximity to someone I also lived with…ha!). Last month, in March 2018, Emily and Brian eloped to Rocky Mountain National Park!

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Woohoo! Congratulations Emily and Brian! (Image courtesy of Stump)

Something else that makes Stump really special is that they carry an ever-rotating collection of curated, handmade ceramics. When they first started, they facilitated several artist residencies, where ceramic artists came into the shop and created pieces of art on the premises. These pieces of art bring something special to the shop, and work to compliment the beautiful plants that they hold.

Emily and Brian are currently expanding Stump with the recent purchase of 10 acres of land outside of Columbus. They are planning to build a greenhouse on there so that they can keep extra inventory on hand, as well as grow some of their own plants. They also plan to reinstate the artist residency program once they build a ceramic studio on that property.

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Before ending our time together, I asked Emily and Brian if they had any tips for those just beginning their plant journey. One tip they had was to select a forgiving plant to start. Stump always keeps ZZ plants and snake plants in stock, as they are some of the best plants for beginners. They also have extremely knowledgeable staff members on hand that are able to advise customers on the right plant for their own, personal space.

Another thing that Stump does to make their customers have a successful plant experience is that they fill out a plant care card for every plant they sell. The card indicates the name of the plant, how often the plant should be watered, and the type of light the plant needs. This is fantastic for any plant owner – especially new ones!

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Emily and Brian are seriously some of the nicest people I have met during my time in Columbus. Case in point: Emily ended our interview together with a hug. I love getting to know the people behind the plant stores I love, and getting to know Emily and Brian a little has only made me want to shop at Stump even more.

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If you are from the Columbus area or are ever visiting, you must check out one of Stump’s locations! They are located in Italian Village at 305 E. 5th Avenue (Monday thru Saturday, 11:00-6:00 and Sunday, 12:00-5:00) and German Village at 220 Thurman Avenue (Monday thru Friday, 11:00-6:00 and Saturday/Sunday, 10:00-5:00). If you stop by, be sure to tell them that the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Stump…
Website: http://stumpplants.com
Instagram: @stumpplants
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stumpplants/

– the {house}plant momma

Products I {Heart}: Water Propagation Stations

If you’ve been following along with my plant journey, you know that I find the propagation process to be absolutely magical – especially water propagation. (You can read my thoughts about it here.) However, I also find the process beautiful. I love sticking little snippets of greenery into different water-filled vessels, and watching the roots emerge.

Another reason I think that water propagation is so lovely is because I enjoy adding propagation vessels to my home. There are so many options out there – bottles, jars, vases, test tubes – and each one adds something special to your space. The options are virtually limitless. As long as the stem and roots of your plant are able to get light, then you should be able to use almost any container for water propagation.

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My favorite water propagation station in my house…

If you are new to the propagation process and want some inspiration for a water propagation station, then look no further! Here are some of my favorites found ‘round the internet.

Test Tube Water Propagation Station

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Image via Etsy

Round Bud Vases 

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Image via Amazon

Glass Orb Vase Himmeli Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Etsy

Milk Bottles – Vintage milk bottles make great water propagation stations! My momma gifted me with these from her childhood, and I love the nostalgia they add to my house house, coupled with the beauty of my plants. You can find similar ones here.

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Vintage milk bottles from my momma

Wooden Water Propagation Station Cylinders 

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Image via Etsy

Square Bud Vases 

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Image via Amazon

Hanging Succulent Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Etsy

Hanging Cylinder Vase – I have several of these hanging cylinder vases hanging around the house that I use for propagation. I love how they showcase my clippings, but using them also makes it easy to change up little portions of my décor when I switch out the clippings.

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Hanging cylinder vase, located in the entryway of my home

Quad Cradle Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Things by HC

Beaker Water Propagation Station

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Image via Etsy

If you would like to learn more about propagation in general, please check out these two fantastic articles.

Do you feel inspired yet??

I would love to see what YOU are using for your own water propagation stations! Please tag me – @thehouseplantmomma – on Instagram to show me your propagation stations. I will be featuring some of my favorites on an upcoming version of my #FeaturedFriday Instagram Stories!

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I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

– the {house}plant momma

My Favorite Plant People

If you’re part of the plant community, then you already know…plant people are literally the best! I have been part of a lot of groups, clubs, and organizations throughout the years – be it church groups, mommy groups, music groups, etc. – but never have I seen the level of openness and kindness that I see in this community.

Being part of the plant community has opened me up to many new friendships, found around the world. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite plant people with you. Please take a few minutes to read about these amazing folks; then give them a follow on social media, check out their websites, buy their amazing products – just give them some love!


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Favorite thing about plants: Propagating! There is something so magical about being able to create new plants from cuttings. It makes me feel like a plant-magician!

Fun facts:
– I wear many hats owning my own business, but my favorite part across all aspects of my content is photography. Challenging myself to be a better photographer always brings me joy and excitement.
– I love playing video games and my favorite is League of Legends!

Why she made my list: When I first started my plant journey, Alessia was super-encouraging; she even sent me some clippings from her own urban jungle! Her Instagram account is absolute eye-candy, and she is really engaged with her followers. This is a plant lover you definitely want to get to know!


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Favorite thing about plants: I am obsessed with beautiful foliage and plants that interact with the environment (e.g. Oxalis triangularis). They bring joy and serenity to me; a green space reminds me of nature and how it gives generously.

Fun fact: I’ve always been a fan of Biology (it’s my favorite subject) and fancy plants a great deal. My love for them grew exponentially when I received a succulent from my mum. From there, things sky-rocketed. I deeply enjoy planting and interacting with the plant community on Instagram.

Why he made my list: Marvin is not has a beautiful Instagram feed and a fellow plant lover, but he is also a top-notch guy! He frequently gives me positive feedback and advice about my own plant experiences. I have also really enjoyed watching his plant journey – even if it’s halfway around the world!


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Favorite thing about plants: I love how it seems like they each have their own personalities and quirks. There’s always new things to learn about each one!

Fun facts: 
– I actually have my masters in Interior Architecture & Design, but soon after college my love for plants and my need to help others with their plant journeys took over. I was way happier inside with the change.
– I’m pretty obsessed with Corgis. I follow about 20 different ones on my personal Instagram account. The day I finally bring one home will literally be the best. day. ever.

Why she made my list: I initially met Alicia through a group of plant lovers on Instagram, and was thrilled to discover that she sells plants on Etsy. Her store, Land of Alice Studio, sells excellent-quality plants at fair prices; plus, Alicia is able to get ahold of plants that I am not able to get locally in Ohio. Oh, and did I mention she’s a total sweetheart??



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Favorite thing about plants: How much they have taught me – patience, mindfulness + intentionality, and letting go.

Fun fact: I was born on Valentine’s Day!

Why she made my list: I also met Eliza through a group of plant lovers on Instagram. She is a wealth of plant knowledge, and has an awesome blog. (You should totally check it out!) Another thing I love about her is that she is a mom, so we can sympathize with #momlife things together.


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Favorite thing about plants: Learning, exploring, sometimes failing, the bewilderment and magic, sharing and connecting with others doing the same. Not to mention the beauty it brings to any environment!

Fun fact: I make pretty decent sushi.

Why he made my list: Jonathan manages a an absolutely gorgeous Instagram feed. If you are not following him, you should be! He also has been a big encouragement to me throughout my plant journey. So thankful for this Insta-friend!


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Favorite thing about plants: Watching them grow and nurturing something so innocent and pure, and they way they bring life to any space!

Fun facts about me: I’m an only child. I have MANY creative outlets and started my blog so that I could honor them all instead of choosing just one. I love working with crystals to bring more balance and serenity into my life. Currently saving up for some new tattoos and a puppy.

Why she made my list: If you have had any interactions with Joi, you know that she absolutely radiates positivity and kindness. In my early Instagram days, Joi and I forged a friendship as newbies to the Instagram world and “beginning bloggers;” I am so thankful that we have formed a fast friendship since then. It’s amazing when online friends become REAL friends!


Have you met any amazing people in the plant community? How have they impacted you? Please tell me about it in the comments below!

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And if there’s a new Instagram account, Facebook account, or blog that I should be following – let me know! I’m always excited to meet new friends, learn new things, and invest even more in the #plantlife!

– the {house}plant momma