Spring Clean Your Houseplants With These 7 Tips

Hello and happy Tuesday! 

Kendall here, with another post about my favorite topic — plants!

Spring is here and that means longer days, warmer sunshine, and happier plants! While I’m always tending to my houseplants (I have grown quite the collection over the past few years), I really step up my game when spring hits. Just as others get the urge to deep clean their places around this time, I become inspired to up my plant game and get them ready and looking their best for their favorite season. 🤣 

Because most plants go dormant during winter and don’t grow much, now is the perfect time to check in with your green babies and set them up for major growth success! I spent last weekend getting all of my plants ready for spring, and today I’m sharing how I “spring clean” my plants to keep them healthy, grow new ones and set them up for optimal spring growth. 

Let’s jump in!

7 Steps for Spring Cleaning Your Houseplants

Dust leaves

First things first, I literally take a page out of the regular spring cleaning playbook, and I straight up clean my plants. It sounds silly, but when leaves collect a lot of dust, they don’t absorb as much sun. Grab a damp cloth and wipe down leaves for a clean slate! If you have especially dusty plants and/or small plants that can easily be moved, I highly recommend washing them off in the sink to save time. Be sure to check plants that are in corners or dark spaces where you might not notice the dust build-up — trust me, it’s there! 

Prune and trim

Now that you have a blank slate to work with, inspect branches and leaves and remove any dead, yellowing, or straggly parts that developed over the colder months. Doing this helps the plant become more efficient and allows it to focus its energy on healthy leaves and branches and new growth. Plus, it’s very satisfying!

Consider propagating

Now that your plants are rocking their best features, consider propagating! Because spring is a great time to supercharge plant growth, propagating is more likely to be successful and root quicker. If you’re not familiar with propagating, it is essentially cutting off part of a plant to create a new plant. (I break down the process in this post). Decide if you’d like to propagate a plant if a) it’s getting too long for your liking, b) you’d like another plant that looks exactly like it, or c) it’s looking a little sad and you want to take out an insurance policy in case it doesn’t make it — or all of the above! I propagate pothos all the time (see below for cuttings that all came from the same plant,) but this year I’m excited to try propagating a fiddle leaf fig and a ZZ plant!

There are a few different ways to propagate and the best method might depend on the type of plant you’re working with, but I’ve had the most success by placing cuttings directly in a cup of water. I store it in a spot with indirect light and make sure to change out the water every few days. After roots form, which usually takes around 3 weeks, I plant them in soil and they’re good to go! 

Assess pots 

Next, check your pots to assess whether a plant needs to be repotted. If you notice visible roots or your plant has stopped growing, it might be time to give it a bigger home. If that’s the case, you’ll want to repot into a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger in diameter. Repotting houseplants is a great way to ensure your plants stay healthy (avoids root bound, where roots are visibly wrapping around the plant because they have nowhere else to go), gives it the space to keep growing (more soil for a stronger root system), and avoids disease (overwatering plants, which is easy to do when they are root bound, can lead to root rot and subsequent diseases).

How to repot a plant:

  1. Water your plant to ensure it’s nice and hydrated. This will make it easier to maneuver. 
  2. Gently remove the plant. If it’s a large plant, try placing it on its side. You might need a friend to help hold the pot. 
  3. Carefully loosen the root ball and shake away excess soil.
  4. Place into a new pot and fill in with fresh soil. Water lightly.
  5. Don’t water again until a week later to let the plant recover from the shock of repotting. 

Swap out soil

After that, give your plants some fresh soil. Over time, houseplants deplete all of the nutrients and organic material in their soil. When this happens, it doesn’t hold water as well and can be susceptible to a host of damages. Pick up some soil from your local nursery and swap for the old soil. This is also a great time to see how good your watering skills have been. Is the bottom of your plants’ soil soaked? If so, you might want to pull back on the amount of water you’re giving it. 

Add fertilizer

Fertilizer, or plant food, is a great way to promote healthy growth. Adding fertilizer at the start of spring gives plants all the nutrients they need to supercharge growth. I’ve been using this fertilizer for more than a year, and I do see results, but I’m excited to try this plant food when I run out! 

Rotate and rearrange 

I like to rotate my plants every few months so the plant receives even sunlight and doesn’t lean too much as all plants lean toward the sun. Turn your plants 45 degrees every season for an easy way to remember when and how much to rotate! Lastly, consider rearranging your plants. Whether the sun hits differently in your place with the new season, or you moved plants away from a draft/heater over winter, now is a good time to assess whether pots need to be moved around for optimal sun conditions. 

Ongoing Maintenance: 

Plant drying out? Yellowing? Or browning? The “picture this” app is super helpful–you take a picture of your plant and it will tell you the best way to care for it and what you might be doing wrong! 

I hope this was helpful! Happy Spring!

You might also like:

(Am I Doing This Right?!) Why you should propagate your houseplants now + how to do so!

(Am I Doing This Right?!) How to decorate with houseplants (and keep them alive)

How to (finally!) stop murdering your houseplants

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Jasmine Monroeau
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