Cleaning orchid leaves

Over time you may notice that your orchid leaves lose their shine a little bit due to dust build up, water deposits or treatments with insecticides. It is important to keep the leaves clean to allow the plant to breathe and for efficient gas exchange to take place.

Dusty Phalaenopsis leaves

I haven’t cleaned my orchid leaves for some time and I’m noticing that there is a significant layer of dust, particularly on my Phalaenopsis orchids. After doing a bit of reading up online, I’m going to try two different methods and see what works.

The two methods that will be used are lemon juice and a solution of rubbing alcohol, water and washing up liquid. I have a couple of volunteers for this experiment, and hopefully both methods will work.

Method No. 1: Lemon Juice

IMG_2031

So first up is lemon juice. You can use lime juice as well if you have them in the house. I would not recommend using vinegar as it is apparently too acidic for orchids. All you need to do is dampen either a cotton disc or paper towel with lemon juice, wipe over the top of the leaf and then allow this to dry. If you get any juice in the crown of the orchid, absorb the residue with a paper towel.

Here is a before and after of Lui’s leaves – loving how squeaky clean they are! The lemon juice was able to remove any build up of water deposits as well as dust from the leaves.

Method No. 2: Alcohol solution

The solution I used was 50% rubbing alcohol (70% isopropol alcohol), 50% water and a small amount of washing up liquid. This idea came from an orchid grower in British Columbia and he apparently has been using this method for years with no problems. He also uses it to help remove mealybugs and aphids too, so it is a multi-use solution.

Both solutions worked really well, and I’ve had no problems (so far). Personally, I preferred using lemons to clean the leaves because it isn’t a natural substance and is extremely cheap. I will test it out on some of my other orchids and see whether they react in anyway.

Happy growing!

Clare

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