Plant nurseries and gardening centers across the globe are home to orchids with leaves that stand shining in such a glossy manner that they actually appear fake.
The leaves of these orchids are polished to perfection, almost to a point where you might see yourself in them.
Orchid leaves are pretty prominent, so it’s essential for gardeners that want their orchids to stand out to polish the leaves regularly.
Dust and mineral deposits tend to build up on orchid leaves, making them appear dingy, dirty, and limp, leaving many people wondering how to clean orchid leaves.
How to Clean Orchid Leaves
So often, plain water isn’t enough to keep orchid leaves in pristine condition, though it does work from time to time. Gardeners everywhere routinely use mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon or lime juice, baby shampoo, and alcohol. When you employ these not-so-obvious methods, your orchid leaves will shine.
Cleaning Orchid Leaves Correctly
Cleaning your orchid leaves correctly can be done in various ways.
As long as you know how to apply each method properly, your orchid leaves will look fake in no time.
The acidic properties in mayonnaise help break down any chemical buildup that could be dinging up the leaves of your orchid.
Meanwhile, the egg yolk in the mayo will add extra shine to your orchid leaves.
However, many gardeners will warn you not to use mayonnaise on the bottom of the orchid leaf, as it could damage the stomata.
This is easy enough to avoid, as long as you apply mayo to a soft cloth before applying, instead of putting it directly on the leaf.
Diluted vinegar is a fantastic way to clear orchid leaves of mineral deposits but do so with care because some kinds of vinegar can be far too acidic for the plant, causing more harm than good.
However, if you find that your orchid has excessive mineral deposits, you can use vinegar, diluted to 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar, to clean them.
Start with one leaf to ensure that your plant doesn’t react.
Lemon or Lime Juice, Diluted
A better method than vinegar, employing diluted lemon or lime juice to clean orchid leaves is a surefire way to keep those orchid leaves shiny.
With this method, it’s best to steer clear of any chemical additives, so you’ll want to squeeze the juice of fresh lemon or lime into filtered water to dilute it.
Lemons and limes are very acidic, so make sure you test one leaf before moving on to the rest of your plant.
Also, don’t place your orchid directly in the sun after cleaning with lemon or lime juice.
Let it dry and give it a few days in non-direct light to gauge any possible reactions.
Baby shampoo is a wonderful, gentle way to clean the top of your orchid plants, as long as the bottom of the leaf is left untouched.
The best aspect of baby shampoo is that it’s already gentle, so it doesn’t have to be diluted as much as you’d have to dilute, say, a dish detergent.
Mixing equal parts of water and baby shampoo creates a gentle cleaner that won’t leave behind residue.
You can use a dish detergent, but you’ve got to make sure that it’s diluted well, as the grease-cutting chemicals added can damage your orchid leaves.
Alcohol is not the first recommended method for cleaning orchid leaves but works wonderfully to combat pests that can potentially kill your plants.
When you first unbox your orchid, you’ll want to wipe down the leaves with isopropyl alcohol in an attempt to kill pests and bacteria that could kill your orchid or spread to your other plants.
Don’t turn to alcohol whenever you feel like your orchid leaves need a dusting, as plain old water will work well for that task.
However, as a first-line defense against plant-destroying bacteria, isopropyl is the leading contender.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Clean Orchid Leaves
Why shouldn’t I clean the bottom of my orchid leaves?
The orchid leaf’s bottom is where its stomata, where gas exchange happens, are located. There is no need to clean the underside of the orchid leaf with anything other than water. Water will remove any dust buildup without damaging essential leaf components.
What’s the best cleaning option for orchids?
You can successfully use any of the methods we’ve listed here, as long as you do so safely, and start with a test leaf to ensure no damage is done to your orchid. Also, there are chemical cleaners just for orchids available on hardware store shelves if this option is more desirable or more accessible for you.
What is the buildup on my orchid leaves?
Salt, dust, and minerals are ordinary and everyday substances that gather on top of orchid leaves. Though it can affect its appearance, it typically will not hurt the plant in any way.
Cleaning Orchid Leaves Safely and Effectively
The best way to clean your orchid leaves is to implement the method that works the best for you.
Choose something that you feel comfortable applying to your plant without damaging the leaves.
It won’t take long for you to you feel confident in helping your orchid sparkle.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.