Who doesn’t like a good shower? I definitely do—and, apparently, many of the plants we have indoors would love some too! But how should you go about it? Is it as simple as popping all your potted houseplants under the shower head?
Plants that benefit from showering are tropical houseplants. It is recommended to 1) clean them up, 2) place them in the shower, 3) adjust the water, 4) wash all the leaves thoroughly, and 5) let them stand to dry for about 1 hour. Succulents, cacti, and plants with hairy leaves should not be showered as they can be damaged and die from such a practice.
Aside from showing you the right way to wash your plants in the shower, I’ll share with you multiple tricks I’ve learned and done over the years too!
1. Clean It Up
To avoid making too much of a mess from showering your houseplants, clean them up a bit before bringing them to your bathroom.
First, give your potted plants a gentle shake. This will help dislodge all the dust that has collected on them, especially those hidden under leaves, in the stems, and branches.
Pro Tip: A duster can be used on large lush foliage plants to avoid muddying the shower too much while washing them.
Cut off all the dying—yellow and brown—and already-dead shoots and foliage. Don’t pull at them as this will risk breaking the stem.
Remove leaves and other debris that have also fallen on top of the soil of your houseplants. You can also remove the top layer of the soil and replace it with a fresh mix after the shower.
2. Place in the Shower
Set one or a few buckets, crates, or step stools under the shower. This is important for later steps. All your plants should be elevated using such things for easier cleaning and drying.
Pro Tip: If you’ve just watered your plants and want to avoid overwatering them, you can also cover the soil with some cling wrap.
Make sure to go around the base of the plant so that all the leaves and stems can be washed in the shower. Otherwise, I recommend exposing the soil so you can also flush out any salt or fertilizer residues.
Then, place your plants—all at once or one by one—under your shower head. Elevating your potted plants will make it easier for you to clean them more meticulously in the next step.
3. Adjust the Water
If you’re wondering what temperature the water should be when you shower your houseplants, the answer is simple: lukewarm.
To be more precise, you want your shower water to be approximately 80–100°F (27–38°C) for your houseplants. It should feel warm on your skin but not burning. Giving them water that’s either too hot or too cold could shock their leave and roots, causing injury.
Learn more about this in our article on the ideal water temperature for plants!
Don’t go blasting your plants with high-pressure water either. Adjust it so that thinner and more tender-stemmed plants don’t snap from the pressure.
Pro Tip: Soapy water can be sprayed on bigger and significantly grimy houseplants before they’re showered. Just mix a few drops of dish soap or castile with room temperature water.
Remember to close the shower curtain or door before you go ham on your plants to avoid having your entire bathroom go all wet and humid.
4. Wash Thoroughly
When washing houseplants, having a handheld shower is ideal for a thorough cleaning. However, a rainfall showerhead will work as well.
Pro Tip: If you have a shower and bath combo, you can place all of your houseplants in the tub and shower them all together to save time.
Slowly move it around—and up and down—so that the stream of water reaches the underside of the leaves and the spaces between the stems and branches.
Gradually rotate the plant around so all sides get sprayed with lukewarm water. Lightly run your hands through the leaves while your plants are getting showered.
You can do this for a couple of minutes until you’ve cleaned the entire plant. Usually, showering plants for under 5–10 minutes will be more than enough.
5. Let It Dry
Personally, I like to leave my tropical plants in the bathroom for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour, after showering them.
Don’t forget to discard all the water that has been collected in the saucers.
The boost in humidity helps them grow more lush and lively, even when they’re kept indoors with less light than ideal.
Pro Tip: Wipe the leaves with some microfiber cloth or a clean old shirt to speed up the process when you’re pressed for time.
Letting them dry completely before bringing them out of the shower will also help you keep your floors clean—regardless if you have carpet, wood, or tile floors.
How often can you shower houseplants?
Houseplants, especially large tropical foliage plants like elephant ear, can be showered up to 1–2 times per month during spring and summer. This helps boost their growth as it mimics natural rainfall which they normally experience regularly in their native habitats. Leave the plants for a few hours if doable so that they can benefit from the boost in air moisture as well.
Why Do Plants Need Showering? (3 Benefits!)
Tropical houseplants with smooth leaves benefit from occasional showers as it helps 1) remove dust, 2) get rid of pests, and 3) mimic their natural growing condition.
Curious as to why you should give your houseplants a shower? Well, there are actually a few good reasons to do it from time to time!
1. Removes Dust
Even if you keep all your windows closed for most of the time, dust will eventually accumulate on your houseplants.
This will clog the pores on your plants’ leaves called stomata, similar to what usually happens to our skin too.
Being covered in all of that gunk also makes it harder for plants to absorb light. Removing all that muck will make your lovely plants look their best, giving them back their glossy leaves.
Dust can be removed from plants with a simple shower. No “special” cleaning products are necessary.
An added benefit to showering your plants to remove dust is that doing so allows them to better photosynthesize and grow!
2. Get Rid of Pests
Despite keeping your houseplants in the safety of your home all year round, you’re bound to get hitchhikers whenever you go out.
When you come back home, you’re likely to bring these pesky insects with you too!
Pests like spider mites and aphids can get into homes and attack houseplants through humans, animals, and wind. But these can be easily controlled with the occasional shower.
In case of particularly bad infestations, plants can be left in the bathroom and showered in place of regular watering until all pests have been removed.
Explore other ways to get rid of and deter pests!
3. Mimics Native Climate
Compared to tropical and subtropical regions, humidity in states up north such as Minnesota and New York is way below the optimal level—especially indoors. In other words, it is just too dry for your tropical plant to get big green leafy companions!
However, treating your tropical plants to a shower while they’re actively growing will help stimulate their growth from being watered thoroughly deep into their soil.
Leaving them for an hour in the bathroom after their shower is also more effective in providing them with moderate to high humidity levels than misting.
In fact, misting can do more harm than good—save for air plants and. There are also many other ways of boosting humidity for your houseplants!
Plus, since they don’t get rained on and dusted off by the wind, showering them once in a while helps them at least experience something pretty similar.
Can You Give All Your Houseplants a Shower?
Only give a shower to tropical houseplants with smooth leaves—like calatheas—. Cacti, succulents, and plants with fuzzy leaves—such as African violets—can rot and die if they are cleaned through a thorough shower session.
The truth to the matter is that showering can kill certain plants. So before you give them a good cleaning, think about where they come from.
Do they hail from more arid regions? The dessert? Or do they originally grow from tropical rainforests?
If the last one is true, then go ahead and give your houseplant a good shower!
Common houseplants that can benefit from a shower include:
- Elephant ears
- Spider plants
Other plants with hairy leaves African violets and wandering Jews are better cleaned by dusting them with a soft-bristled brush. The same is true for cacti and succulents.
When water collects in their crevices, they can develop spotting, discoloration, and rotting. Such plants can die after being unnecessarily showered.
When is the best time to shower plants?
It’s best to shower plants early in the morning, similar to regular watering. Doing so allows them to fully dry before nightfall, which is important for controlling and managing pests and plant diseases typically caused by excess water and/or humidity.
Should I put my houseplants in the shower?
Ornamental and foliage houseplants that are native to tropical and subtropical regions such as Latin America and Southeast Asia can be kept in the shower. But don’t let them get waterlogged. The enclosed space of a bathroom can help provide a boost in humidity for such plants, especially during fall and winter months when levels can drop to 10–20%.
How to tell your plant needs a more thorough watering?
The simplest way to tell whether a plant needs more water is by checking the moisture of its soil. People can do this by hand, inserting a finger, toothpick, or wooden chopstick 1–3 inches into the soil. When it comes out completely dry, with no soil at all, the plant should be watered thoroughly. Electronic soil moisture meters are also useful.
Summary of How to Shower Houseplants
Shower houseplants one by one or in batches by cleaning them up beforehand, placing them in the shower on a stool or something similar, adjusting the water temperature and pressure, washing the leaves and stems thoroughly, and letting them stand to dry for 30–60 minutes.
Only houseplants with glossy leaves that are native to tropical and subtropical areas and normally receive a significant amount of rainfall. Don’t give a cactus, succulent, or any other plant with hairy leaves a shower. Otherwise, they can get discolored and even die.
- “Houseplant Care” by David Hillock in the Oklahoma State University
- “Indoor Plants – Cleaning, Fertilizing, Containers & Light Requirements” by Debbie Shaughnessy and Al Pertuit in the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service
- “Moving Houseplants Back Indoors for Winter” by Deborah J. Benoit in the University of Vermont
- “Why You Should Clean the Leaves of Houseplants” by Marie Iannotti in the Ohio State University Extension