Spa Day for Houseplants


Houseplants really work hard in our homes. They help make our surroundings beautiful, clean pollutants out of the air, and keep us connected to living green plants during the months we need them most. They work hard, and they can start to look tired regardless of how hard we try to mimic their ideal growing conditions in our indoor environment. We tend to limit the amount of water we give them because we don’t want the saucer to overflow onto the floor. We place them in lighting conditions base on our decorating needs. And then there’s a pet or two (or three), that think they’re their for entertainment value.

One of the things I do regularly to keep my houseplants at their fittest, is to give them a spa day. This is a day when every plant gets a little love, a little attention, a little closer inspection. Spa days can bring problems to your attention, allowing you to correct situations like over/under watering, pests, and build up of dust on the leaves. By addressing these issues, you can add years to the life of your plants and keep them looking beautiful. That’s the reason you bought them, right?

On spa day, everyone gets a shower. But prior to the shower I inspect as I move them. Were they sitting in water when I picked them up? Did I see any of those lovely little fungus gnats fly off when I moved the pot? If so, it’s time to inspect the roots, so out of the pot it goes. If I see further signs of root rot (soil falls away when I take the plant out of the pot or brown mushy roots), it may be time to do a soil change or pot it down a size in pots. Never pot up a size when these kinds of things happen. Did I note webbing on the foliage or any other kind of critter? Time to buy or mix up an insecticidal soap and spray thoroughly prior to the shower.


After special needs are addressed, turn the shower head on and watering deeply to allow water to flow through the entire pot and out the bottom several times. The foliage will also need to be showered off, but gently. This process also will leach out any buildup of fertilizer salts (a white-ish film on the top of the soil)  in the soil which can be toxic to our plants long term.

Let everyone drip dry before returning to the rightful place in your home. This is also a good time to ‘rearrange the furniture’ and rotate the location of your plants in your home. Plants do respond to new lighting situations and maybe you can find a spot where they’ll be happier.

You will be amazed at how your plants perk up after spa day! It’s almost instant. I’d like to say I do this once a month, but I just do it as often as I can. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Heather Thibeault is a life-long gardener, plant collector, and Burnett's employee.

Heather Thibeault is a life-long gardener, plant collector, and Burnett’s employee.

One Response to “Spa Day for Houseplants”

  1. Betsy Perry

    Dear Heather,

    Loved your ” Spa day on houseplants” segment!
    I rooted cuttings last week from the large overgrown, falling out of the pot, orange blooming large leaf begonia you gave me last year hanging out front. The cuttings are doing fantastic! I figured that baby was from great stock, since it moved all around the house from Fall when I brought it inside, to now, and has stayed in bloom constantly not skipping a beat!!! More begonias for me this year. Thank You!


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