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5 Houseplant Myths

I created my very first blog post with the intention of preventing others from making the mistakes that frustrated me early in my collecting. Today, I want to expand on these five houseplant myths that you should skip in order to save your time and money:


1. Cinnamon

I see cinnamon recommended constantly for gnat treatment, fungus prevention, and rooting cuttings.

Treating Gnats

Claim: Cinnamon kills the fungus in soil that gnats eat. 

Fact: Cinnamon is a fungicide. However, you would need an enormous amount of ground cinnamon to make a dent in a gnat population. 

Instead: Effective gnat control methods are Mosquito Bits, beneficial nematodes, or watering with diluted hydrogen peroxide. To control a gnat infestation, you must treat the soil, not just kill adults. 

Rooting Cuttings and Preventing Rot

Claim: Dipping cuttings in ground cinnamon is just as effective as rooting hormone for rooting cuttings.

Fact: Cinnamon does nothing to promote root growth. It is slightly antimicrobial, which could prevent root rot, but would only be effective with very concentrated amounts of the active ingredient (cinnamaldehyde).

Instead: Rooting hormone like the Garden Safe Rooting Hormone is effective in promoting root growth. If you're looking to prevent or treat rot on a cutting, Mycostop is an incredible biofungicide that works by releasing natural beneficial bacteria. 


2. Air Quality

In 1989, NASA conducted a study where they monitored air quality in response to the density of potted plants in the room.

Claim: Indoor plants remove volatile organic compounds (chemicals released from all the lovely items we surround ourselves with in our homes, i.e. sofas, plastics, cleaners, even makeup) from the air we breathe, making them a viable option for reducing indoor air pollution.

Fact: Unfortunately, the volume of plants would have to be roughly equal to the space they're in for them to make a useful difference in your air quality. For example, in a typical 10' by 10' room, you'd need about ten 4-6" plants per square foot to have an effect on air quality.

Instead: If you are concerned about your air quality, or your family suffers from allergies, try an air purifier with a HEPA filter and scientifically proven results, like the Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier.


3. Bigger Pots Yield Bigger Plants

Claim: Potting your plants in larger pots will help them grow larger because their roots have more room to grow.

Fact: Houseplants are not goldfish. By potting your plants in larger pots, you are reducing their ability to effectively reach water in the soil and increasing your chances of a gnat infestation due to stagnant damp soil. 

Instead: Pot your houseplants in pots that only leave a couple of inches of space around the base of your plant. The roots should fill about 80-90% of the pot. Wait to increase pot size until you can see the roots from the drainage hole of its current pot.

spray bottle

4. Misting Leaves

Claim: Misting your plants' leaves helps to increase ambient humidity.

Fact: Misting leaves does not raise the humidity levels enough to make a difference for your plant, unless you're misting them 40-50 times per day. Misting can also cause serious leaf fungus and disease.

Instead: Try investing in a humidifier to keep your picky plant pals happy. I've enjoyed the Levoit Ultrasonic Air Humidifier and the budget-friendly Homech Quiet Ultrasonic Humidifier.

tap water

5. Tap Water

Claim: Chlorine and fluoride in tap water is harmful to your houseplants. Let tap water sit out for 24 hours before using it to water houseplants. 

Fact: Most houseplants will not react negatively at all to tap water, with the exception of African violets.

Instead: Don't worry about letting tap water sit out before watering your plants. Please do not buy jugs or bottles of purified water for the purpose of watering houseplants. If you are concerned about your water quality, there are a few ways of purifying your water without adding environmental waste such as collecting A/C runoff, collecting rainwater, or installing a reverse osmosis system.

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