Houseplants attract dust when you keep them near a window or on a balcony. Due to this, inexperienced gardeners pick different methods to clean the plant leaves, including spraying them with olive oil, milk, lemon juice, etc.
However, cleaning plant leaves with olive oil is not recommended. It blocks the pores on the leaves and prevents them from absorbing the required sunlight. Eventually, it impacts the growth of the houseplant.
So, check out the following guide if you want to know more about it or still want to give it a shot.
What Do Experts Say On Using Oil On Plants?
The gardening experts and researchers resonate with the above recommendations for using olive oil on plant leaves.
Here’s what they say –
The Effects Of Oil On Plants
The researcher J. M. Baker shares his analysis –
“After penetrating into a plant, the oil may travel in the intercellular spaces and possibly also in the vascular system. Cell membranes are damaged by the penetration of hydrocarbon molecules, leading to leakage of cell contents, and oil may enter the cells. Oils reduce transpiration rate, probably by blocking stomata and intercellular spaces.”
As you can see, the oil does cause a significant issue for the leaves. If you use it regularly for cleaning or any other purpose, it can damage the plant greatly, and you may not be able to save it later.
Using Vegetable Oils As Herbicides
There is another research on whether you can use some vegetable oils as herbicides. According to the research report –
“The results suggest that culinary oils could reduce the biomass of weeds in an environmentally friendly way that is permissible to organic growers. However, the herbicidal activity of these oils appears low, and the quantities required to obtain substantial weed control may not be economically viable in all instances.”
So, there aren’t many benefits of using it as a herbicide. It’s just not an economical solution for such plant issues.
Will Olive Oil Hurt Plant Leaves?
Olive oil doesn’t hurt the plant leaves directly. It just makes the job tougher for the leaves while receiving sunlight.
When you apply it on the plant using a spray or damp cloth, it can easily block the microscopic pores on the leaf’s surface. These pores are important in getting the required sunlight and other elements for plant growth.
Once the pores get blocked by oil, you can’t do much about it. Even if you wipe the leaves with a cloth, you may not be able to remove the oily layer completely from the leaves. Hence, it’s better not to use oil on your houseplants.
How To Clean Plant Leaves With Olive Oil
As you know, using olive oil on houseplants has some drawbacks. But if you wish to use it anyway, let’s look at the step-by-step process below.
Steps To Follow –
- Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix it with 1 liter of water.
- Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the dusty leaves.
- Get a clean cloth and dip it into water.
- Wipe the leaves using this cloth.
- Place the plant near a window or airy place to help it dry quickly.
Note – If the leaves seem oily or sticky, wipe them again. Also, keep the plant under a fan if you want to dry it out as soon as possible.
4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Cleaning Plant Leaves With Olive Oil
Olive oil is a useful kitchen ingredient but is not very effective in the garden. The above research and expert opinions iterate the same point nonetheless. Therefore, you shouldn’t be going ahead with it.
Still, here are four more logical reasons to avoid olive oil on houseplants –
1. Leaf Burn
Oils are sticky, and olive oil is no different.
When you spray olive oil on the leaves, it sticks to the leaf surface for a very long time. It just doesn’t disappear within a day or two. That’s what creates a problem for the plant!
When sunlight drops on such leaves, the surface turns hot. Eventually, it starts burning the leaf. Therefore, you might see brown or yellow leaves after a couple of days of spraying.
2. Shriveled And Wrinkled Leaves
This happens when you apply olive oil to the plant leaves repetitively.
Since the oil creates a barrier between the leaf’s internal systems, it can shrivel the leaves in a couple of days due to a lack of essential elements. Once the leaves start wrinkling, the plant will find it difficult to produce enough food for survival.
If the plant stops producing food, it cannot survive for too long. And then, you will have to discard the plant.
3. More Sticky Dust On The Leaves
Dust is one of those things that keeps coming back no matter what you do. If you keep the doors or windows open, dust will accumulate on the leaves in a day or two.
Hence, once you clean the leaves with olive oil, you will see more dust on their surface. The reason lies in the same sticky property of the oil. When the surface turns sticky, it attracts tiny dust particles. In the end, the accumulated dust particles form a thick layer on the top surface and clog the pores on the leaves.
However, this happens with neglected plants. If you care for your plant well, you might be able to resolve the issue. But for that, you must stop spraying olive oil.
4. Difficult To Remove Olive Oil From The Leaves
Since oil sticks to the surface for longer, you may have to clean the plant until the leaves appear alright.
Otherwise, as you know, it will accumulate sticky dust on the surface, which will be difficult to remove after some time. So, getting rid of the remaining oil from the leaves becomes essential.
You can try to clean the leaves with plain or soapy water again but use a diluted solution.
Note: The worst part is you can’t remove all the oil from the leaves. It makes no difference how clean the surface appears; some oil will always be on it, attracting more dust and other particles.
Olive Oil Alternatives To Clean Plant Leaves
Now, let’s look at some of the other alternatives to use for this purpose –
Water doesn’t need any introduction when cleaning the dust off any surface. It’s a tried and tested medium for this purpose. So, you can use it to clean the leaves and stems of the plant.
However, don’t spray it in the afternoon or hot & humid conditions. If you do so, the water will turn warm due to sunlight and subsequently burn the leaves.
Besides, you shouldn’t perform this cleaning process daily or weekly. Perform it twice a month or once a month, depending on the weather conditions at your place.
Note: Once you spray the leaves with water, keep the plant in an airy place. It will help dry the plant after a quick shower with water spray.
Milk is another useful ingredient for cleaning your plant’s dusty leaves. If used in moderate quantities, it can do wonders for the plant.
It not only cleans the leaf surface but also provides some beneficial properties to the entire plant.
As for the application, you can add a couple of tablespoons of milk in 1 ltr of water and spray it on the plant once a week or twice a month. Follow this process for a couple of rounds, and I’m sure you will see some positive results for your plant’s overall growth.
3. Neem Oil
Neem Oil is one of the most recommended products in the gardening world. It is effective in combating many existing problems in houseplants.
Apart from that, it also cleans the surface of the sprayed part. So, using it on the leaves will surely bring a much-desired shine to them.
Take a look at the following video for the demonstration –
Having said that, using such ingredients in smaller quantities is always better, as they might burn some of the leaves if used vigorously. Be careful while using oils to bring shine to the leaves. Do not use it solely for cleaning purposes.
Some gardeners also like to use coconut oil, but the neem oil solution offers more benefits than any other oil.
4. Soapy Water
Soapy water is another useful solution to clean the dust off your houseplant leaves.
Like oil, it should be used in moderate quantities only. Soapy water contains chemical elements that can harm the leaves and stems.
Therefore, using it sparingly on your plants becomes even more critical. Also, if you find any soapy water accumulated on the leaves, remove it immediately.
Don’t let it sit on the leaves, as it can burn the surface and turn them brown in a couple of days. For the removal, you can use water spray or wipe the leaves as suggested earlier.
Vinegar is the most interesting ingredient in this list of olive oil alternatives. As we all know, it is normally used as a cleaning agent for kitchen equipment and furniture.
Similarly, you can use it on your houseplants too. The acids in this ingredient help remove tough stains and sticky dust particles from the leaves. It brings back natural shine to the leaves, but use it in diluted form.
The vinegar solution can be used once a month. If you prefer cleaning the leaves every week, stick to water spray.
As discussed in the guide above, there are many ingredients through which you can make your plant leaves look fresh and shiny. The best way to do it is by regularly cleaning the leaves with water.
Of course, you shouldn’t perform this activity each week, as the plant might attract fungus and similar issues due to excess humidity and wet surfaces. So, do keep these things in mind while cleaning the leaves for shine.
Apart from water, you can also use mineral oils in a limited quantity. You can also regularly provide fertilizer to the plant, which will keep the leaves fresh for a long time.
As I said earlier, water is the best thing you can use to clean plant leaves. Water will remove any dust and other particles that might have accumulated on the surface of the leaves.
Yes, you can put oil on plant leaves. However, it should be done in moderate quantity.
You can prepare a mixture of 50% milk and 50% water and spray it on the leaves. It does a great job cleaning the leaves and bringing the shine back to their surface.
You can spray the plant every 2-3 weeks for consistent results. As for the proportion, you can even use a 40-60% or 30-70% milk-to-water ratio.
And it should do the job for you!
If the plant is small, you can simply wipe off the dust from each leaf. But if the plant is big or you don’t have time to clean individual leaves, you can use any water spray. It might not clean the dust completely, but it surely is a time-saving gardening activity.
As for the shine, you can use quite a few things, including soapy water, oil and water combination, etc. All these mixtures can help you get the desired shine to your rubber plant leaves.
Don’t overdo it. If it’s done regularly, you might damage the plant permanently.
For regular cleaning, water is the best option you have!