Monstera leaf care and cleaning is one ignored area yet critical. Why? Because dirt and dust accumulation looks unsightly, it will affect plant function and attract pests.
Remember, we all love these plants for their adorable split and fenestrated leaves. You will rarely see their flowers when under cultivation.
We will begin by looking at general Monstera leaf care before looking at how to clean or dusty these leaves. By following our guide, you will have a lush-looking gloss plant. You don’t need leaf shines.
Table of content
- Monstera leaf care
- Why and how to clean Monstera leaves
- Should I use leaf shine on my Monstera leaves?
- What to also avoid?
Monstera leaf care
Before we give you ways to clean Monstera leaves, let’s begin by giving you the seven essential leaf care steps.
1. Provide bright, indirect light
For optimum growth and health, Monstera needs bright, indirect light. Light provides energy for use in photosynthesis and in making chlorophyll (the green pigment that helps plants trap light).
Too little light will make the leaves look paler or yellow. Also, they will be smaller. Your plant will grow slowly, become leggy, may drop leaves, or may not fenestrate or split.
We recommend you buy a good grow light brand like Relassy 15000Lux Sunlike Full Spectrum Grow Lamp. It has sunlike light and illuminates a large area. Also, it has a gooseneck stand and will last up to 50,000 hours.
There are other good brands too, and you can use Dr. meter LX1330B Digital Illuminance Light Meter to ensure your plant gets enough light, i.e., 10,000 lux to 20,000, which is equivalent to bright, indirect light.
On the other hand, avoid direct sunlight. Otherwise, your Monstera will end up with a sunburn. Leaves will look washed out or bleached, may turn yellow, have brown tips and edges, among other symptoms.
If you have trouble deciding on which window is best for your plant or how much light is enough, see more on Monstera light needs – how much and what kind. You will get all the explanations you need.
If you want healthy lush leaves, you need to provide adequate humidity. Monstera requires average to above average humidity, i.e., 50% or more, with the ideal value being 60% to 80%.
Why is humidity important? It helps keep the stomata open. So, plants can easily absorb carbon dioxide and transpire. Carbon dioxide helps them make food with the help of light energy.
On the other hand, transpiration helps plants keep cool and helps create the force to pull water from the soil.
Under low humidity, your plant will lose too much water. This water loss will prompt the leaves to close the stomata. Also, your Monstera leaves may turn yellow or brown, have crispy brown tips and edges (leaf scorch), curl, droop, et cetera.
Ways to raise humidity include the following:
- Buy a humidifier. There are many good brands. Make sure you pick a cool mist brand. We have AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier, LEVOIT and Pure Enrichment® MistAire. They are all good, quiet brands.
- Mist your plants several times a week.
- Use a pebble tray
- Put your plants together to help create a microclimate
- Move them to more humid rooms, like the kitchen or bathroom.
Last but not least, as you try to keep humidity high, ensure proper air circulation and don’t wet leaves in the evening. You will increase the risks of fungi and bacterial leaf spot diseases.
3. Proper watering
These aroids need medium watering. Also, allow the soil to dry in-between water sessions. Too much water will result in root rot in your Monstera, and too little will make it limp.
Water your Monstera when the top 2-3 inches of the potting mix feels dry. It may be after a week in spring or summer or biweekly in winter. But don’t follow a schedule. Instead, test the soil because water needs vary with season, plant size, pot size, and prevailing conditions (temperature, humidity, and light).
To know it is watering time, feel the potting mix or use a soil moisture meter like XLUX, Gouevn or Sonkir. Only water when the meter reading is in the dry zone or if the potting mix feels dry up to the first knuckle of your finger.
To water, slowly and evenly saturate the soil until excess drainage holes flow. Pour any that collects on pot saucer or cachepot.
Lower leaves will start turning yellow when overwatered, and the potting mix will always be soggy. You may also see black or brown blotches, wilting that doesn’t improve with watering, moldy potting mix, etc.
If watering is a problem, learn more about Monstera watering, covering how often, overwatered and underwatered. You will also get fixes.
4. Check for and manage pests
If you constantly check your plant’s leaves, you should discover these pests before they cause significant effects. Depending on the ones you have, they will appear as tiny dots or bumps. Some are stationary others leap.
A heavy infestation will cause brown, black, or yellow spots, silvery stippling, distorted leaves. Some may produce honeydew that will cause sooty mold, others webbing, etc.
You can easily manage pests by using insecticidal soaps, horticultural spray oils, or neem oil like Bonide Ready to Use Neem Oil. For minor cases, hose the plant to dislodge the bugs.
5. Feed your plants
Fertilizers provide nutrients (minerals) for healthy plants that grow fast and have large, deep green, and lush-looking leaves.
On the other hand, nutrient deficiency may result in the following symptoms:
- Leaf discoloration: Leaves may turn yellow, including yellow spots, tips, edges, or interveinal chlorosis. Also, they may turn brown, including having brown spots.
- Leaf burn
- Twisted or mishappen
- Smaller leaves
- Stunted growth
- Presence of holes on leaves
We recommend feeding your Monstera once a month using an all-purpose, balanced (10-10-10 or 20-20-20), liquid houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer. Please don’t feed them in the non-growing seasons.
We use Bonide Liquid Plant Food 10-10-10 or Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food (Liquid). They are both good for Monstera plants.
Last but not least, don’t overdo it. Too much fertilizer will negatively affect your plants, including causing fertilizer burns.
6. Practice proper hygiene
Before handling any of your houseplants, thoroughly wash your hands. Also, don’t allow your visitors to touch your plants with dirty hands.
That is not all. Always sterilize any equipment such as pruning shears, pots, watering cans, etc. Use 70% to 90% rubbing alcohol or 10% bleach solution (1 part of bleach to 9 parts of water).
By so doing, you will prevent the spread of diseases, some of which will affect leaves, making them have lesions, spots, holes, necrosis, etc.,
Why and how to clean Monstera leaves
Besides the above care routine, your Monstera leaves need routine cleaning and dusting.
Why clean leaves?
Here are the reasons:
1. Reduces plant function
Dust and dirt will clog stomata and cover the leaf surface. Consequently, it will hamper gaseous exchange or transpiration and block light necessary for photosynthesis. Your Monstera won’t make their food effectively, making them unhealthy.
Also, they will not purify the air well – absorbing carbon dioxide and other harmful gases while releasing oxygen. And since stomata play a role in water absorption, your plant will not absorb water or minerals as usual.
2. Sore sight
No one loves to see dusty and dirty leaves. They are unsightly. So, as you clean baseboards, windowsill, fans, light fixtures, don’t forget your plants.
3. May attract pests
Neglected plants, including dirty or dead leaves, will always attract pests to your home.
How to clean Monstera leaves?
There are many ways to clean Monstera leaves. The exact method depends on your preference and how dirty they are. Here are common ways.
1. Wipe the leaves
The first way to clean your Monstera leaves is to wipe them down using a damp (not drenching), soft piece of cloth, paper towel, or sponge.
Support the leaves with one hand and use the other to wipe from the tip towards the stem. Please do the same to the underside since pests often hide here. When the sponge or cloth becomes too dirty, rinse, wring and wipe again.
While wiping, be gentle to avoid damaging the leaves. Also, don’t forget to wipe the petiole and the stems of your plant. They, too, get dirty and dusty.
2. Give your plant a shower
Our favorite way to clean Monstera leaves is by showering them with lukewarm water. Warm or cold water may injure your plant. We do this during the watering cycle.
Take your plant to the shower, spray water from all angles, including the underside, using your shower head. You can also use a sprayer nozzle to wash your plant outdoor.
Warning: Please use low pressure. High pressure may damage leaves. Also, don’t take too long since you may leach the soil. 5 to 10 minutes is enough to wash your plant as you water it.
3. Use dish soap
Mix a ¼ a teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap (a detergent, not soap) to a quart (about a liter) of lukewarm water and put it in a spray bottle. Next, spray your plant. Afterward, wipe the leaves with a soft cloth and thoroughly rinse your plant.
Why do we love this method? It helps get rid of spider mites. But if you have a severe infestation, go for other control methods.
4. Use vinegar
Vinegar will repel your pets like cats and dogs from your plant and keep pests at bay. To use this method, mix a teaspoon of vinegar a gallon of lukewarm water.
Next, get a soft piece of cloth, dip inside the solution, wring excess and use it to wipe the leaves.
5. Lemon juice
Squeeze half a lemon into a pint (473 ml) of lukewarm water. Then use this solution to wipe leaves. Lemon juice solution will help remove any mineral salts being an acid. However, it won’t repel pests or pets like vinegar.
6. Dusting feathers or gloves
Use your dusting feathers to sweep your Monstera leaves. This method works best if your leaves have loose dust.
Alternatively, you can use dusting gloves. We love Evridwear Microfiber Dusting Gloves. They attract dirt and dust through a natural static charge and will not scratch leaves.
After wiping your plant, don’t forget to wipe the pot. Use whatever you use on other surfaces.
Should I use leaf shine on my Monstera leaves?
No. You shouldn’t. We know that leaf polish or shine sprays will make leaves glossy. But are they suitable for your plants? No, and we don’t recommend any of these products.
Why? Because of the various ingredients – waxes or oils - that may clog your plant stomata, making it not breathe as usual.
Remember, these plants absorb carbon dioxide to make food through stomata. Also, they need to transpire (lose water via stomata) to help control temperature and create the force that pulls water from roots.
That is not all. The ingredients present may stick to dust, making it clumpy and harder to clean your plants.
What to also avoid?
We know you want your plant leaves to look glossy. But don’t apply coconut oil, olive oil, baby oil, or any such products. They will only worsen dust accumulation and will make cleaning much harder.