BotaniWipe: redeeming houseplants everywhere
Andrea Bellamy |

scale infestation.jpg

Schefflera with a nasty case of scale.

My houseplants are the neglected siblings of my outdoor plants; they get a raw deal when it comes to care and attention. As a result, they’re pretty pathetic specimens. This year, I’ve resolved to be ruthless with them: either they shape up or ship out.

Of course, it’s me who has to do the shaping up.

My umbrella plant (schefflera) has a nasty scale infestation (see above), my rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is covered in water spots, and all need a good dusting.

My rubber plant got me thinking about that aerosol leaf shine spray so favoured by malls and dentist’s offices. Out of curiosity, I googled something like “organic leaf shine” and found myself reading about the things people wipe on their plants: milk, the insides of banana skins, lemon juice, and even mayonnaise. Wow. I had no idea.

The other thing that kept coming up was neem oil. Gardeners were raving about the stuff. Seems its naturally-occurring insecticidal, anti-fungal properties help to control and prevent houseplant pests like scale, all while repelling dust and adding a natural shine. Cool, I thought. I’m sold.

Then I discovered a product called BotaniWipe. BotaniWipes are biodegradable leaf wipes infused with organic neem oil and lavender that do triple duty as a leaf polish, a nutritive, and a mild insecticide fungicide.

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The same plant after treatment with BotaniWipes.

BotaniWipes really did wonders for my long-suffering houseplants. I’m sure they would have looked better even just with a quick wipe with a wet cloth, but I figure, if you’re going to do that, you may as well take care of the nasties (disease, pests) and give them a boost at the same time. They come in a convenient “baby wipe” format but are completely biodegradable (even flushable), and they left my plants looking pretty damn fine.

I was impressed with the results, but curious about this neem stuff. Could it really do all the stuff it’s purported to do? So I asked Andrew O’Brien, founder of BotaniWipes, to tell me more. Turns out Andrew has a lot of experience using neem. As the manager of a small organic flower farm in California, he used neem oil to control disease and improve plant health.

“Neem oil is pretty amazing,” says Andrew. According to him, neem has properties that are beneficial in treating and preventing pest infestations, molds and
mildews in plants. As well, amino acids in neem oil act as a nutritive and natural antibiotic. Combined with the anti-fungal,
anti-bacterial, anti-insecticidal properties of lavender oil, these oils, “in appropriate mild
amounts, really promote plant health,” says Andrew. And unlike conventional leaf sprays, the oils in BotaniWipes won’t clog the plant’s stomata (pores). 

I was curious: how does someone come up with an idea like BotaniWipes? “When my son was
born I looked up at a dirty, distressed houseplant while wiping his
bottom,” Andrew relates. Ah. There’s hope then: maybe a brilliant business idea will come to me one of these days too!

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