I recently purchased an elk horn fern (Polypodium polycarpon ‘Grandiceps‘). It is a gorgeous plant but is covered with hard water spots. How can I clean the water spots off? Until I wrote my first book, I didn’t know exactly how to get them off. Elvin McDonald gave me the tip to use lemon juice. It works like a charm!

Water spots on elk horn fern

Water spots on my elk horn fern (Polypodium polycarpon ‘Grandiceps’)

Slice a lemon!

You could just use a slice of lemon, wiping the leaf with it. That worked great on my phalaenopsis orchid foliage as the leaf is thick and didn’t really bend too much as I was cleaning it. But with the fern leaf, I found squeezing the lemon juice on a sponge and using the sponge to clean the leaf worked better. Use one hand to support the leaf from behind while using the sponge to wipe the leaf. I found that worked well so I didn’t rip the leaf. It was a bit tricky to do on the elk horn fern leaf as the leaf ends are ruffled. I was careful, but did rip a couple of leaves before I got the hang of it. Also, I am a bit impatient and there were a lot of leaves.

Water spots are so unsightly

Where do these spots come from?

When hard water is used to water plants, as the water evaporates off the leaves, the dissolved lime, salts, and minerals are left on the leaf as a white residue. This can also be from the salts from fertilizer residue left on the leaves.

After wiping down the leaves with the lemon infused sponge, I then rinsed the plant off to get the excess lemon juice off the leaves. So you make sure your plant isn’t damaged, which it should not be, it is best to try it on one leaf before using it on your whole plant. I have never had a problem.

Look how much better the leaf looks after cleaning it!

All clean

Have you tried lemon juice or something else? Let me know how it worked for you.

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