12 Houseplant Myths BUSTED: Don’t Make These Rookie Mistakes

Are you a plant parent looking to give your beloved indoor plants the best care possible? Or are you a new plant enthusiast looking to start your own collection? 

It can be tough to navigate the houseplants’ world when so many myths and misconceptions floating around. From the belief that misting your plants increases humidity to the idea that bigger pots mean bigger plants, it can be hard to know what information to trust. 

We’ll be busting 12 of the most common houseplant myths to help you give your plants the care they deserve. 

Myth 1: Mist Your Plants to Increase Humidity

misted plant with water droplets

One of the most common houseplant myths is that it is beneficial to miss your houseplants. If you’ve been told that misting your plants increases humidity, it’s time to stop. This is actually doing more harm than good. 

Most of us know that our tropical indoor plants thrive best when living in a more humid environment, much like in a natural habitat. 

The belief is that spritzing the leaves every day helps raise the humidity around the plants. However, all this does is wet the leaves, leaving them susceptible to mold and rotting problems. 

As the moisture sits on the leaves for a couple of hours every day, because we keep these plants indoors, there’s very little air change compared to the great outdoors, so moisture sits there, creating mold issues for the plant. 

Plants require consistent humidity in their environment, and spritzing in the leaves every so often does not achieve this. 

Any humidity given off as the leaves dry would be absolutely minuscule. So you’re much better off either investing in a dedicated humidifier or just keeping your plant in a consistent environment in your home away from open windows, doors, and heating radiators.

Myth 2: Plants Grow Bigger in Bigger Pots

girl mixing different pothos varieties in one pot

A common misconception among beginner plant parents is that plants grow bigger in bigger pots. 

They purchase a plant from their local nursery and immediately put it into a pot that is four or five sizes bigger in the hopes this will push the plant on in its growth; after all, plants naturally have access to the outdoors to spread their legs. 

Unfortunately, this will inhibit growth. Keeping your plant in a pot that is too big for it will do absolutely no favors for it. 

Most indoor plants do best in a slightly snug pot. However, keeping it in a pot that is too big means there’s far too much soil in the pot compared to the roots, which can lead to overwatering problems. 

When you water your plant, the soil will remain wet for too long, and the roots may rot. You’re much better off keeping your plant in a pot that is balanced with the size of the plant and its roots. 

When repotting your plant, only go one or two sizes bigger than the pot it is already in.

Myth 3: Tap Water Should Be Left Overnight Before Watering

pothos plant with water and sunlight to help it grow faster.

A common myth is that tap water should be left overnight before watering. 

The idea is that tap water contains chlorine and other harmful particles to sensitive plants such as Calafia and Spider plants. 

Leaving it to sit overnight settles the particles, dissipates the chlorine, and makes it safe for your plants to drink. But, unfortunately, this isn’t really the case. 

Chlorine doesn’t dissipate overnight; in any case, almost all water companies now use chloramine, which definitely doesn’t evaporate. 

It’s a good idea to protect sensitive plants from tap water, but this method is a waste of time. Instead, you’re better off using rainwater, distilled water, or filtered water.

Myth 4: Houseplants Purify the Air in Our Homes

air purifying indoor houseplants, woman smelling.

One of the most persistent myths about houseplants is that they purify the air in our homes. 

This myth continues to be used by plant growers and garden centers worldwide as a marketing gimmick to increase their sales and boost their margins. 

The truth is that while plants do produce oxygen, they do not significantly purify the air in our homes. In addition, studies have shown that the number of plants needed to make a noticeable difference in air quality would be impractical to keep indoors.

Myth 5: Houseplants Need Direct Sunlight

pothos plant living outside

Another common myth about houseplants is that they need direct sunlight to thrive. 

While it is true that some plants require a lot of sunlight to grow, most indoor plants do not need direct sunlight (such as pothos plants). 

In fact, direct sunlight can be harmful to many indoor plants, causing them to become yellow and dry. So instead, most indoor plants prefer bright, indirect light. 

This means placing them near a window where they can receive light without being directly in the sun’s rays.

Myth 6: Houseplants Need to Be Fertilized Frequently

fertilizing a houseplant

Another myth about houseplants is that they need to be fertilized frequently. 

While it is true that plants need nutrients to grow, over-fertilizing can harm your plants. 

Houseplants do not require as much fertilizer as outdoor plants, and it is recommended to fertilize them only once a month during the growing season. 

Over-fertilizing can lead to leaf burn and can even kill your plants.

Myth 7: You Should Water Your Plants Every Day

watering pothos plants by a window.

Another myth about houseplants is that you should water them every day. However, this is not true. 

Most indoor plants do not require daily watering. In fact, over-watering is one of the most common mistakes made by plant owners. 

The key is to wait until the soil is dry to the touch before watering. It’s also important to note that different plants have different water needs, so it’s essential to research the specific watering requirements of each plant in your collection.

Myth 8: Dead Leaves Should Be Removed Immediately

yellowing pothos leaves

Another misconception about houseplants is that dead leaves should be removed immediately. 

While it’s true that dead leaves can be unsightly, they can also serve an essential purpose. Dead leaves can protect the plant from excess sunlight and serve as a plant’s nutrition source. 

It’s important to note that dead leaves should only be removed if they are yellow or brown and are not serving any purpose.

Myth 9: You Should Wash Your Plants Regularly

wiping leaves of a houseplant

Another myth about houseplants is that they should be washed regularly. 

While it’s true that washing your plants can help remove dust and debris, it’s okay to wash them infrequently. 

In fact, washing your plants too often can damage the leaves and strip them of their natural oils. So instead, if your plants are dirty, you can use a damp cloth to gently wipe them clean.

Myth 10: You Should Use Pesticides to Protect Your Plants

Another common belief among plant enthusiasts is that you should use pesticides to protect them from pests

While it’s true that pests can harm your plants, it’s important to note that many pesticides can harm your plants and your health. 

Instead of using pesticides, you can take preventative measures such as keeping your plants clean and healthy, keeping them away from other plants that may be infested, and using natural pest control methods such as neem oil or diatomaceous earth.

Myth 11: Houseplants Don’t Need to Be Repotted

repotting a houseplant

Another widespread belief is that they don’t need to be repotted. 

While it’s true that some plants can thrive in the same pot for years, most indoor plants need to be repotted periodically. 

As the plant grows, it will outgrow its pot, and the roots will become cramped, preventing the plant from receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive. 

It’s essential to research the specific repotting requirements of each plant in your collection.

Myth 12: All Houseplants Are Easy to Care For

woman caring for a houseplant

One of the most dangerous myths is that all of them are easy to care for. 

While some plants are relatively low maintenance (think Snake plants), others require specific care instructions, such as particular lighting or watering requirements. 

It’s important to research the care requirements of each plant before bringing it home to ensure that you can provide the necessary care. 

Not all plants are suitable for all environments, and not all owners have the same knowledge of caring for plants; choosing the right plant that fits your lifestyle and ability is essential.

This article, 12 Houseplant Myths BUSTED: Don’t Make These Rookie Mistakes was originally published on Nature of Home.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.