Common Houseplant Myths

There are plenty of people who desire a home filled with large, lush plants, but for whatever reason have convinced themselves that they’re unable to keep plants alive. Perhaps you’re one of those people, and that’s why you’ve come across this post!

More than likely, the reason people find that they can't keep a plant alive is because they've fallen for one of these myths. If misinformed, there's a good chance that they're doing more harm than good to their plant collection.

Read on to learn some (but certainly not even close to all) of the more common houseplant myths that many folks seem to believe.


#1 Houseplants Grow Larger in Large Pots

A person re-potting plants on a counter with dirt scattered around.


Nope. That’s goldfish in large aquariums. And you can read all about that on our upcoming and never-to-be-released website: The Aquarium Dads. Until then, back to this houseplant myth.

A larger pot will have no benefit to a plant in regard to growing larger. In fact, an oversized pot can have negative impacts on your plant friend. Large pots need large amounts of soil to fill them, which will take away water from your plant. Your plant will have a more difficult task of soaking in the water that it needs.

The unnecessary amount of soil in your pot will take a long time to dry out, subjecting your plant’s roots to damp soil for longer than it should be, thus increasing the chance of root rot.

Lastly, the plant focuses energy on its roots first, which means the energy spent growing roots to fill the pot wont’ be spent on growing new leaves above the soil.


#2 Certain Plants Can Only Be Grown Indoors

A patio chair with a potted snake plant next to it, as well as other plants in the background.


Ummm… no.

People created “indoors.” People did not create plants… and they’ve been around much longer than people have been. We can talk about who created plants, but that may be a bit too divisive of a conversation for our cute little plant blog.

Houseplants are simply plants that are adaptable enough to grow with the appropriate amount of light, water, and pot-limitations without too many issues. They all come from the outdoors originally.

Oftentimes, The Plant Dads blog as well as other plant blogs… wait. I mean, err… there are no other plant blogs! Don’t look! It’s just us and don’t even try looking, you’re wasting your time!

Anyhow, when discussing a plant's "mature size," plant blogs will refer to the size a plant can grow “in ideal conditions.” That term really means outside, or as close to a replication of outside as can be done indoors.


#3 My Home Doesn’t Get Enough Sun for Plants

A hanging shelf on a wall with plants, books, and other decorations. Filtered sunlight is shining on the shelves.


Though this is believed by many folks, it’s really just more of an obstacle than a fact.

All plants require light, to some degree, to live and flourish. There are plenty of plants that require less light than others, so it’s really just a matter of choosing the right plant for you. We’ve actually already done the research for you… you can read our picks for the best plants that grow in lower light here.

Remember, your main goal is to recreate what a plant’s living condition is outside in its natural habitat. In fact, there are plenty of plants that prefer shade when grown outside, especially some tropical plants that grow on the ground below taller trees.

Additionally, there are many fantastic Grow Lights available that provide your plants with ample light to thrive. Many are inexpensive and have automatic timers, so you won't even have to think about it once setting it up!

#4 You Need a Green Thumb to Grow Plants

A pair of hands covered in different colors of paint reaching up to the sky.


You don’t, I promise. You just need to be able to follow directions. Not being forgetful is helpful, too.

Most any plant you purchase at a store comes with a helpful little tag that tells you exactly what the plant requires. I would argue that oftentimes those little tags are somewhat misleading, but that’s a whole other conversation.

If you have a plant without a tag, there’s also this awesome resource you’re on right now! No, I don’t mean The Plant Dads website (although it is a great resource), but the internet itself! You can quickly find answers to any of your plant questions as they arise. You’ll be a plant-growing pro in no time!


#5 Rub Mayonnaise on Leaves to Make Them Shinier

A closeup of the leaves of a Rubber Tree.


This myth has been circulating for decades. I suppose technically this would work in the short term, although there are plenty of things you could rub on the leaves that would technically work in the short term.

Rubbing mayonnaise on your plant's leaves might not cause any immediate harm, but it will cause the leaves to deflect the crucial light it needs to survive. It’ll also likely attract bugs and dust. When you notice the leaves of your plants are getting a little dusty, a damp cloth is more than sufficient to use to clean them.

Try to appreciate your plant for what it is, and for the color it is. There’s no need to try and make it any shinier than it was created.

We all have days that we're not as shiny as we'd like to be, but we're not going around rubbing mayonnaise on our faces. Your plants are no different.


#6 Mist Leaves to Increase Humidity

A person using a spray bottle to mist a houseplant's leaves.


Well, this one is tricky. I’m gonna use that word ‘technically’ again, as spritzing some mist onto your plants will technically create a tiny bit of humidity for a very brief period of time. However, it’s so brief that it’s but a drop in the bucket.
To really create a more humid environment for plants that thrive in such conditions, investing in a decent humidifier is the best option.

With that said, there are debatably some benefits to misting your plants. Misting will help to remove some of the dust buildup and will make them ever so slightly shinier temporarily. (Just in case you’re trembling with your mayo jar still after reading the last myth.)

On top of helping the tiniest bit to remove dust, I also find it to be somewhat therapeutic… for you, that is... not for the plant. I’m a big proponent of using plants as therapy, and the little rituals that go along with caring for them. If you find some personal, mental health benefit in walking around misting your plants occasionally, then I say keep on doing it. It’s kind of the whole point of having the plants around in the first place: to provide some modicum of peace in your day.


#7 Water Your Plants Once a Week

A watering jug pouring water onto potted houseplants.


I guess SOMETIMES that’s correct for CERTAIN plants, but it’s absolutely not the best plan to use as an over-arching rule for all of your plant friends. Every plant is different, requiring different amounts of water based on the conditions they're in. For some plants, watering weekly would cause a death knell due to over-watering.

Most plants require more water if they’re receiving large amounts of sunlight. Plants in darker areas of a home tend to need less water. Some plants genetically require more or less water than others.

The best plan is to get to know each of your plants individually and learn their specific needs. Upon getting a new plant, do a little research and leave a notecard near the pot to remind yourself of your watering plan.

If nothing else, when the soil is totally dry, it more than likely would benefit from some water.


#8 Re-Pot New Plants

A wooden table covered in a plants, potters, and dirt.


There seem to be conflicting opinions on this, but I’m here to tell you that this is a myth.

Plants need time to adjust to their new homes. Your house or apartment has a different temperature, different humidity level, and an all-around different environment than wherever it just came from.

If the plant was shipped to you, then it’s even more crucial to allow your plant time to acclimate to the new setting. Even with the best of intentions, travelling through the postal system can be a traumatic experience for a plant to endure.

I’d suggest giving your plant a couple weeks (at the very least) before repotting the plant. You should definitely water during this waiting period, but causing any additional stress is not recommended. After giving your plant some time to settle in, feel free to dress it up in that lovely new pot you have waiting.

Next up, check out our list of the Biggest Myths About Succulents!

~Happy Planting 💚

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