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8 Common Houseplant Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

A woman waters plants at home
Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

Houseplants bring life and beauty to our homes, but they can be intimidating to care for. There is a lot of information out there about taking care of houseplants, and a lot of it simply isn’t true. Here are some common houseplant myths and what you should know instead.

Myth: You Should Water Your Plants Every Day

Someone waters their plants
Taras Garkusha/Shutterstock.com

It may seem like a no-brainer to water your plants every day since they need water to survive, but this common misconception will cause more harm than good.

Overwatering is more likely to kill your plants than underwatering since it can destroy the roots. The frequency of watering your plants will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of plant, the size of the pot, and the humidity and temperature in your home. Most need to be watered every one to three weeks.

There are a few different ways to figure out if it’s time to water your plants. One way is to stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water. You can also purchase a moisture meter that will notify you when the soil becomes dry.

XLUX Soil Moisture Meter

Keep track of the moisture of your soil.

Myth: Plants Grow Faster in Big Pots

Several plants in different sized pots
Daria Minaeva/Shutterstock.com

While it’s true that larger pots offer more room for roots to grow, they can actually slow down the growth of your plants. This is because the larger amount of soil in a big pot retains moisture for a longer period of time, causing the roots to rot.

It’s best to choose a pot that’s just an inch or two larger than the diameter of the plant’s root mass. You should also have an idea of how large your plant will grow; if you are expecting your plant to grow a lot in size, a larger pot may be necessary.

QCQHDU Plant Pots Set of 2

Attractive pots for indoor plants.

Myth: Bathrooms Are Great for Plants

Houseplants in a bathroom
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Bathrooms are often considered great places for plants because of the humidity from showers. However, this humidity in a bathroom is not constant and can fluctuate dramatically, which can stress out your plants.

Bathrooms are also designed to dry out quickly, so the humidity that a hot shower may provide won’t last long. And unless your bathroom has a large window with lots of natural sunlight, it will leave your houseplant in the dark for long chunks of the day. It’s better to choose a room with bright, indirect light and consistent temperature.

Myth: Misting Plants Increases Humidity

Misting a plant

While misting your houseplants may seem like a good way to increase humidity, it’s actually not very effective. Misting only provides temporary relief and the water droplets can quickly evaporate, leaving your plants with no long-term benefits.

It’s very difficult to offer a high-humidity environment in a typical home, since this would be uncomfortable for everyone in the home. Fortunately, most houseplants don’t require this much humidity to thrive. Just make sure you water them enough (and not too often) to keep them happy.

Myth: Tap Water is Bad for Plants

Someone waters a plant

Tap water typically contains minerals and chemicals that can be harmful to your houseplants, but this is not always the case and will depend mainly on how you access your water. City water, for example, often contains chlorine and fluoride while well water does not contain as many additives.

If you have concerns, you can let your tap water sit overnight to allow the chemicals to dissipate, or you can use distilled water or rainwater to water your plants. In general, it’s a good idea to check the specific needs of your plants, as some may be more sensitive to minerals and chemicals in tap water than others.

AQUACREST Garden Hose Water Filter

Remove chemicals from hose water.

Myth: Wilting Plants Need to Be Watered

A wilting houseplant
Elena Khairullina/Shutterstock.com

Wilting or drooping leaves can indicate a dry plant, but this can also be caused by other factors like over-fertilization, pests, disease, or extreme temperatures. Before watering a wilted plant, it’s important to check the soil moisture and make sure the soil is not too wet or too dry. If the soil is dry, water the plant and see if it improves by the next day.

If the soil is already moist, there is likely another issue causing your plant to wilt. It’s also worth noting that some plants naturally wilt during the heat of the day as a way of conserving water, but then recover in the evening when temperatures cool. Keep an eye on your plant to make sure that this isn’t what is causing it to wilt.

Watering Can for Indoor Plants

For when you do need to water.

Myth: Plants Purify the Air in Your Home

A woman smiles with a plant
Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock.com

While it’s true that houseplants can help improve air quality by removing certain pollutants, they are not capable of truly purifying the air on their own. Houseplants alone also cannot remove all indoor air pollutants, such as mold and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The best way to purify the air in your home is to purchase an air purifier. Regular cleaning and proper ventilation can also help.

LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home

A great air filter for actually cleaning the air.

Myth: Houseplants Go Dormant in the Winter

Someone cares for a plant in the winter

Some outdoor plants that are native to cold climates go dormant in the winter, meaning that they are able to survive with minimal sunlight and water. While some houseplants adopt a similar effect due to colder temperatures and shorter days, you shouldn’t assume that you don’t need to care for your plants at all during the winter.

Many plants continue to grow throughout the year and need consistent care, even during the winter months. It’s important to research the specific needs of your plants and provide them with the proper care, including the appropriate amount of light, water, and fertilizer, throughout the year.

There’s a lot to learn when you become a plant parent, but not all information out there is helpful. Here are a few common houseplant myths and what you should actually be doing to care for your plants.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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