The Martha Stewart Gardening Trick You Should Avoid At All Costs

There's no denying that Martha Stewart is the homemaking queen, but when it comes to keeping your plant babies as healthy as can be, one of her past pearls of wisdom should be approached with caution. We're talking about her penchant for leaf shine spray. A quick fix to secure a luscious, shiny appearance, to be sure ... but also one that could have a devastating effect on your houseplants.

In January 2023, Stewart visited "Today" to share her tips for caring for houseplants, keeping them nourished and looking their best. One of her suggestions was to top plants off with a leaf shine spray — and post-mist, the plant certainly looked like the picture of health. However, that sheen can be deceiving. That's because while shine sprays create the appearance of a healthy, glossy plant, they can also play a role in suffocating them. 

As if that wasn't enough, blocking a plant's ability to breathe is just one part of what makes leaf shine spray a no-go for anyone hoping to keep houseplants healthy long-term. In fact, that same concoction used to give a glow could actually prevent your plants from being able to achieve that sheen naturally. In sum: this is one fix you definitely don't want in your plant care routine.

Shine spray attracts dirt and can kill plants

The best case scenario, when it comes to the side effects of leaf shine spray, is that you'll end up with duller plants. That's because the product creates a sticky base, perfect for dust. What's more, even if you try to wipe the leaves clean from the spray and the dust it has attracted, many former users have complained that doing so requires considerable force. Not ideal — especially when the goal is a healthier houseplant.

However, the more pressing issue is that shine sprays can halt photosynthesis and water movement, thanks to the aforementioned dust build-up clogging up the plant's stomata. Dust is just one of the culprits here, though. For the most part, shine sprays contain waxes and oils which, even if natural, also block the stomata. Once again, the vital processes that keep plants healthy are halted, if not stopped completely. 

So, shine spray is a no-go. However, that's not to say there's nothing you can do to get those houseplants shining. Arguably the easiest way to do that is by regularly dusting plants, and for bigger leaves, wiping them down with water. Alternatively, one unexpected, though effective hack is to use a banana skin to gently rub each leaf. All the reward, less of the risk — and you'll get a snack.