7 common houseplant care myths you need to know
Do you believe these indoor plant care myths?
Here are a few mistaken assumptions about houseplant care I’ve picked up along the way.
There’s definitely some misinformation out there about how to care for indoor plants but you'll learn the truth through direct experience. Here are a few mistaken assumptions about houseplant care I’ve picked up along the way.
Common Houseplant Myths
- You should water your indoor plants constantly
- You need to fertilize your indoor plants for them to grow
- Houseplants are just not for you (for whatever reason)
- Some people are just doomed to be a brown thumb
- Houseplants aren’t safe for kids or pets
Houseplants can be treated like objects
You have to do something to revive an indoor plant
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Myth 1: You need to water your indoor plants constantly
I bet you probably operate under the assumption that plants love water and need as much as possible.
This is an absolute myth and probably the number reason you are killing your plants. Too much water makes it difficult for the plant to pull nutrients from the soil and eventually leads to root rot.
Sure, there are a few common varieties that like their soil to stay moist. But no plants can thrive if their roots are drowning and most of the easy-care houseplants prefer to dry out a bit.
Myth 2: You need to fertilize your indoor plants for them to grow
To each its own in terms of their fertilizing preferences but I’m in the anti-chemical camp. From my experience plants only need water (in moderation), sunlight and fresh air to thrive.
As of writing this I own about 30 plants, many that have been living and growing for over 3 years in my care and none of whom have been fed fertilizer.
You can accelerate the growth process with fertilizer but you really need to know what you are doing — the right formula and the right dose at the right time. Make a mistake and you could burn your plant's roots and end up killing them.
I personally love to see my plants grow naturally and don’t want the burden of handling chemicals — nor the risk. There are those who would disagree but as a beginner I recommend keeping it simple to start.
Myth 3: Plants are just not for you (for whatever reason)
That’s what I thought a few years back and I can’t believe how far I’ve come.
My first inclination was that my lifestyle (busy, frequent traveler, low maintenance ) wasn’t right for indoor ownership. That’s before I realized there were several easy-care houseplants , some that can even survive with bi-weekly waterings and little fuss.
My second excuse was that I was a minimalist and didn't want my flat looking like an urban jungle. However one of the benefits of plants is their natural beauty and instead of decorating with knick knacks I use plants to elevate the aesthetic of my minimal apartment.
Moreover, I just bought my dad a plant who, after raising four kids, has an aversion to anything that requires care! Yet he’s in love with his ZZ plant because it’s low maintenance but still gives him something to marvel after.
Whatever your excuse, it’s likely one that has also crossed my mind. So I can say with confidence that if you start with one you’ll never turn back.
Myth 4: Some people are just doomed to be a brown thumb
I’ll get straight to the point on this — there are no magic tricks involved with indoor plant care and it doesn't take any special talents or skills.
It doesn’t matter how many plants you’ve killed before, I can assure you — if you learn the basics you’ll quickly develop your green thumb.
Myth 5: Plants aren’t safe for kids or pets
True, there are a few common indoor plants that are toxic if handled or consumed.
Know what they are and, if you bring them into a home with little ones, keep them out of reach or monitor how they interact with the plant to see if there's a potential problem.
The pets I’ve been around are either completely disinterested in plants or have a sense that it’s not a tasty treat. The over curious have quickly learned their lesson after taking a bite.
And being raised with plants in the home, I can’t remember any instances where we felt compelled to dine on the greenery. Err on the side of safety of course, but odds are your little ones will be ok.
Myth 6: Plants can be treated like objects
Nope! They are living things. As low maintenance as some of them are they are still intelligent beings with needs and moods and should be cared for with intention.
Here’s the thing — you will very likely fall in love with your plants and start to treat them as such. You’ll talk to them, stare at them, and gush over them.
They may be stationary but are so beautiful and provide so many benefits that it will be difficult not to establish an emotional connection.
Myth 7: You have to do something to revive a plant
It’s inevitable that you’ll have a situation where a plant is ailing. In this case I’ve found that the less you do the better.
First and foremost, if a plant starts looking sick determine if it is because of too much or too little light or water and adjust the routine or placement accordingly.
But there will also be times when a plant is just fussy about something you can't place my finger on. If so, just leave it alone for a while and see if it revives itself.
My general rule is that making a bunch of changes to a plant’s care routine, or even placement in your home, can make matters worse. Correct any obvious issues then let your plant be so it can tend to itself.