4 Houseplant Myths We Should Stop Believing

In the world of houseplants, myths and misconceptions abound. Many of these ideas are perpetuated on the internet, social media, and in memes, leaving plant owners confused and unsure about how to care for their beloved greenery.

In this article, the speaker will address four common myths and misconceptions about houseplant care, beginning with the belief that misting your plants will increase the humidity and promote healthy growth.

The speaker will also discuss the idea that houseplants clean the air, the misconception that bigger pots lead to bigger plants, and the myth that houseplants go dormant in winter.

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Key Takeaways

  • Misting your plants does not significantly increase humidity and can lead to pests and disease.
  • Houseplants do not significantly clean the air in your home, despite a popular myth perpetuated by a NASA study.
  • Up-potting your plants too aggressively can lead to root rot and other problems.
  • Houseplants do not necessarily go dormant in winter and can continue to thrive with proper care and attention.
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Myth 1: Misting Your Plants

One of the most common myths in the world of houseplants is misting your plants. Many people believe that misting their plants will increase the humidity and help their plants thrive. However, this is not entirely true. Misting your plants will increase the humidity for a little bit of time, but then it will disperse into the entire room, and the relative humidity around the plant will return back to normal.

Moreover, misting your plants can also lead to bacterial or fungal disease by increasing the humidity and moisture for a little bit of time, especially leaving the leaves wet for a long period. Some pests also prefer a more damp environment, which can cause more harm than good to your plants.

If you want to increase the humidity in your houseplant jungle, the only foolproof way is to get a humidifier and run it for a consistent amount of time. Even things like pebbles on the bottom of the pot don’t do a whole lot. When you measure the actual humidity of misting or the pebble method, it just doesn’t do that much objectively speaking.

In conclusion, misting your plants is a common myth that can do more harm than good. Instead of misting your plants, invest in a humidifier to increase the humidity in your houseplant jungle.

Myth 2: Houseplants Clean Your Air

One of the most popular myths about houseplants is that they clean the air in your home. This misconception has been widely circulated on social media and the internet, leading many people to believe that having houseplants can significantly improve indoor air quality.

However, according to a study by Bill Wolverton, which was conducted by NASA, the ability of houseplants to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as benzene and formaldehyde, from the air is limited. The study found that while some plants were able to remove these compounds in a hermetically sealed chamber, the amount of plants needed to make a significant impact on indoor air quality would be so great that it is unrealistic for most indoor spaces.

Although it is true that houseplants can improve air quality in small, enclosed spaces, such as a sealed chamber, the sheer volume of air in most indoor spaces makes it difficult for plants to make a noticeable difference. In fact, a pot of soil alone, without a plant, was found to have a similar effect on VOC removal as a potted plant.

While houseplants may not be the solution to improving indoor air quality, they still offer numerous benefits, such as reducing stress, increasing productivity, and adding beauty to your home. So, don’t be discouraged from filling your home with beautiful plants just because they may not clean the air as much as you thought.

Myth 3: Bigger Pots Lead to Bigger Plants

Many people believe that if you pot a plant up into a bigger pot, it will grow bigger. However, this is a myth. When you up-pot too far, the volume of soil keeps the soil moist for much longer, and the sensitive roots will be sitting in an overly moist amount of soil. This can lead to the roots rotting out because the soil is holding onto too much water.

It is best to be conservative about your repotting, especially when going up in size. You should wait until the plant can handle it. If they are not expanding out into the volume of soil that is in the pot, there is no benefit to doing it at all.

For example, a purple oxalis plant was slowly moved up into a larger pot, and it has started to do well. However, if it had been put straight into a larger pot, the roots would have been sitting in overly moist soil and likely would have rotted out.

The same goes for a cebu blue pothos. Although it may be tempting to put it in a large pot and have it be a nice draping hanging plant, it is best to exercise patience in up-potting until the plant can handle it.

Myth 4: Houseplants Go Dormant in Winter

Contrary to popular belief, houseplants do not necessarily go dormant in the winter season. This is because indoor plants, especially tropical and subtropical species, prefer warmer and more humid environments, which are typically maintained indoors during the winter.

While it is true that some plants may slow down their growth during the winter, this is not a universal rule. Factors such as light, temperature, and humidity play a significant role in the growth of indoor plants. Therefore, if you provide your plants with adequate light, water, and nutrients, they can continue to grow and thrive throughout the winter season.

It is important to note that some plant species may require specific conditions to grow during the winter months. For example, some plants may require a cooler temperature or a period of dormancy to prepare for the upcoming growing season. Therefore, it is essential to research the specific needs of your plants to ensure that they receive the appropriate care during the winter season.

Overall, while some houseplants may slow down their growth during the winter, this is not a universal rule. With proper care and attention, indoor plants can continue to grow and thrive throughout the winter season.


I’m just a plant lover from Central Florida with a passion for sharing knowledgeable facts about all things plants.

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