When I was a beginner houseplant enthusiast, I often had to look online for information on plant care. Having been in the game now for a few good years, I can now look back at some of the information and tell you that it is categorically just wrong. Here’s a list of some of the common houseplant myths that I see floating around the internet, with an explanation of why you should not believe them.
1. Put your plant in a huge pot if you want it to grow larger
There’s some truth to this, but this belief is being extrapolated to the point where it is no longer accurate. It is definitely true that the larger your plant’s root system, the larger the plant can grow. However, potting a small plant in a larger pot does not guarantee that it will grow a large root system. In fact, potting a plant in a pot that is too big for it can shock the plant, and also cause the roots to rot because there’s too much soil holding water. Moreover, some plants are just naturally more compact, so they won’t get much larger regardless of the pot they’re in.
2. Water orchids with two ice cubes
This myth is one of my pet peeves. What gets me riled up about this specific myth is that there is no misconstrued fact that underlies this myth. It originates from a company called Just Add Ice Orchids, which utilises a marketing tactic that tries to sell orchids as low-care requirement plants at the cost of their wellbeing. Orchids live in the tropics and subtropics. They do not encounter ice in their natural environment. Ice cubes will damage roots in the pot over time, and will cause immediate damage to exposed roots. Moreover, this does not work for orchids of all different sizes, and is not generalisable over different growing mediums.
To me it seems like this company gets cheap, wholesale orchids (possibly paying even less than other companies with the caveat of buying orchids which are not doing the best to begin with). It then markets them as easy to maintain, but provides harmful instructions, so that when consumers’ plants die, the consumers assume that they did something wrong, rather than coming to the conclusion that such a large company gave them incorrect information. This means that consumers are more likely to return and get even more orchids, but treat them as decorations which will inevitably die. To me, this is absolutely despicable. Not only are they killing these majestic, regal plants, they are also destroying beginner orchid growers’ confidence in their ability to keep orchids alive.
3. Letting water sit for a day will always remove harmful chemicals
I leave my water out for 24 hours to allow chlorine to return to gas form. However, this does not work for everyone. Some water is purified with chloramine, rather than chlorine. This will not evaporate the same way chlorine does. If your tap water is purified with chloramine, boil your water for around 20 minutes before allowing it to cool so you can use it for houseplants. This removes the chloramine. Alternatively, try rain water or reverse osmosis water.
4. Spraying succulent roots gives them all the water they need
It is true that succulents are extremely drought resistant. However, spraying is not a great way to water them. Spraying the roots or surface of the soil encourages succulents to grow shallow root systems, giving them very little stability in the pot. Water succulents thoroughly (until water comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot), but do so only when the soil in the pot is completely dry.
5. Busy people shouldn’t have houseplants
Houseplants are for everyone, not just the idle. In fact, they provide a welcome reprive from work for most houseplant owners. They’re actually very low maintenance if you can provide them with the conditions they like. If you want to find out what conditions different house plants like, stay tuned, because this blog posts about houseplant care regularly.
I hope this post helped to demystify houseplants. Some of these myths are well-intentioned enough, while others were just straight up malicious. Remember, if something doesn’t make logical sense and doesn’t fit in with your knowledge of plants, take it with a grain of salt and always get an opinion from someone with experience growing the indoor plant you want advice on. If you have any houseplant questions, feel free to contact me.