10 Indoor Plant misconceptions
1. Bathrooms are humid!
Very often people will ask me if there are any plants that will do well in a bathroom. There is a big belief that bathrooms are more hot, humid, and wet than other rooms in the house and therefore the plants like ferns will do better. If you think about it though, bathrooms are actually designed to be dry, and vent away excess heat and moisture. The surfaces are often tiled so hold little heat and no water meaning that after your shower the room is going to return to normal levels very quickly.
The real benefit to bathrooms is that they usually don’t have heating and cooling so if you do have sensitive plants they won’t be disturbed with that extra dry air. Plus if you do decide to raise the humidity you only have to worry about a very small enclosed space. Whatever the room is the number one concern is going to be how much light you have.
2. I water my plants every day. Drink up!
Over-watering is the number one killer of indoor plants! Plants will wilt if they are too wet, the leaves will blacken off, and the roots will rot. Generally plants need much less water than you think, with some ferns needing a weekly water, and other plants such as a Monstera only needing a big water once every 2-4 weeks.
3. Big pot equals big plant, right?
I have personally fallen for this mistake many times! When re-potting you only want to increase the pot size by an inch or two at a time otherwise the change can shock the plant and all the excess soil will stay wet for too long. Generally you want to wait for the plant to be a little bit root bound and even a few roots to grow out of the bottom before upgrading.
The family Araceae which includes a large chunk of common indoor plants really need to be cramped to thrive and often a big pot will kill them, while a small pot will allow them to grow faster and stay healthy. This includes peace lilies, monstera, devils ivy, philodendrons and anthuriums. These plants will get huge regardless of the pot size.
4. Self-watering pots save time
Our drive to automate and simplify our lives has led to the concept of the self-watering pots. As if a plant that has its roots fully submerged in water will just take a little drink when it gets thirsty like a hamster. Well let me tell you, your plant is not a hamster! Only a select few plants actually like to constantly be sitting in water, while the majority will usually get root rot and die.
The water tray/ reservoir in the base is great to allow the plants to have a big soak, but should then be emptied out after a day of soaking. Most plants need to have at least the top third of soil dry out within a few weeks otherwise they will rot.
5. Some plants are just for indoors
Sorry to tell you but there is no such thing as an indoor plant. All plant can live outdoors depending on your environment. What we call an indoor plant is just a plant with lower light requirements. Take a look at your next plants natural habitat to learn a heap about what they actual like. Often times they are not as delicate as you may think!
6. Some plants are fine without any light
No plants can survive with zero light. A few very low-light tolerant plants can survive under fluorescent lighting but most need at least a bit of consistent natural light. On the other hand, your plants don’t need direct sun either! Indirect sun is enough to make everyone happy!
A good rule of thumb is to find a space with enough light to read a book by, or if you can be in the room without turning on a light switch, then you probably have enough light to support a lot of plants.
7. Cacti and succulents are sooo easy
In the right position most plants are very easy! The issue with cacti and succulents is that they don’t thrive indoors and are very easy to kill in these conditions. Lots of indoor plants can survive on monthly waterings, in cramped pots, and in very little light. I’d call that ‘easy’!
My favourite beginner plant is the peace lily. This can survive in very dark conditions and only needs water once every 2-4 weeks and if you don’t know when to water you simply wait and it will tell you it’s time by wilting!
8. Some plants don't need drainage, just stones at the bottom
Heaps of companies are selling pots that have no drainage holes. These are cover pots and you are not meant to plant directly into them. Leave you plant in a separate well draining plastic pot and place it inside. Your plant may not die immediately but after a few months you will definitely start to see signs of damage.
Terrariums are essentially a glass pot with no drainage. The only reason these work is because of careful plant selection, and by building up layers of well draining soil, charcoal, moss, and stones. Even then watering has to be carefully controlled.
Placing large stones at the bottom of your pots does not improve drainage either. This is a very common myth.
9. Leaf damage can be repaired
Once a leaf is damaged there is no going back. The plant will not fix itself. It will scar up and the damage will stop if you fix the issue. Generally there is nothing to worry about if there is one or two damaged leaves on your plant. It is completely natural. Old leaves will be shed eventually and replaced with fresh new ones in time.
10. You should move plants around to get more light
Have you ever stepped outside into the sunshine and been absolutely blinded by how bright it suddenly is? After a while your eyes adjust though. Your plant does the same thing but only much slower. They acclimate to where they are kept and if moved into a new location will be shocked! Unless permanently moved, they will not benefit from being placed into a bright space for a day or two. In many cases this can actually lead to the plant being burned by the sudden increase in intensity.
Let us know if there are any other plant myths you need busted!
Greener House is an indoor plant nursery based in Melbourne, Australia. Find us at 95 Sydney Road, Brunswick. We focus on houseplants but also stock a great range of pots, and accessories!