Obsessive-Compulsive Question of the week . . .
Hi! I live in Oregon and have an indoor collection of succulents. Can I dust my topsy turvy without hurting it?
I tried dusting one leaf with a very soft brush and it looks like some of a "protective coating" came off that has now changed the coloring of the plant from a silvery matte to a shiny green.
As you can probably tell, I love my collection and hope I didn't do something incredibly stupid in an effort to help my plants. Thanks so much for your help!
Hi Tracy, the pruinose or bloom is a white waxy and sometimes dusty coating that the plant produces to protect itself from bright light, and also to prevent moisture loss.
As you've found, it's easy to damage it, especially on some of the Echeveria, Graptopetalum and other related plants and especially those that are blue and grey.
The good news is that it won't harm the plant if it is removed. That bad news is that the plant now has to try and replace it, which takes months.
The best way to remove dust without damaging the pruinose is to use a trigger sprayer and water, or kill two birds with one stone and put a small amount of insecticidal soap (or dish soap - not detergent), shake well, and spray until the water runs off, taking the dust with it.
This method doesn't seem to damage the pruinose as much.
Do this a couple of times during the year; I recommend this be carried out in the bathtub or outside as it can stain or mark furniture.
You can also put your plants out in a soft rain shower in the summer.
Hope that helps get you back on track,
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