Misting Overload: The Disadvantages of Misting Houseplants

One of the popular but highly debated plant care practices these days is misting. While the effects of misting are debated among plant lovers, it is not only about whether it has any effect at all but also whether it can even harm your plants.

Misting houseplants can cause inconsistent environmental conditions, an attraction of humidity-loving pests and diseases as well as damage to the outer protection layer of drought-resistant, arid plants. These disadvantages can be minimized by an appropriate misting routine.

Read on to find out more about the downsides of misting your houseplants and how to avoid them by adopting a beneficial misting practice.

Why Misting is More a Myth Than a Miracle Practice

Misting houseplants has become a common practice among many plant aficionados in recent years. Many plant lovers see it as the ultimate extra care practice that boosts their plants’ vitality.

While misting is mainly meant to raise humidity levels around plants, it only does so temporarily. After only a couple of minutes, the effect is already lost. So in a way, it does the trick but not for long.

Even though misting is not efficient in raising humidity, misting your plant can have benefits and there are a few things to consider if you want to mist your plants appropriately. In my post, I go through all that you should know about the misting plant care practice. Also, I will give some advice on how to raise the humidity levels more consistently in your home.

What Are the Downsides to Misting Your Houseplants?

The practice of misting houseplants has benefits (see the post linked above) but it also has its downsides. Especially if you don’t know how to mist your plants adequately, these downsides can have a big effect on your plants in the long run.

From my experience, if you mist your plants right, then most of these downsides are not problematic at all. So make sure you note down the tips on how to mist and how not to mist.

In the next part of this post, I will go through all the downsides that there are and give you a handful of tips on how to best avoid them. Let’s get started right away!

Misting Creates Inconsistent Environmental Conditions For Houseplants

Plants have evolved to live immobile lives, growing in the same spot all their life and adapting to the environment that is around them. As such, they are creatures of habit and only grow well if the conditions around them remain stable, allowing them to respond adequately to them.

Misting your plants produces a short-term effect that can confuse the plant about what type of environment it is in. In simple words, the plant feels like it is in a lush tropical forest for 10min after misting but then all of a sudden it is back in a desert until you mist it again.

In the long run, misting can lead to inadequate metabolic responses of the plant to its environment. This leads to higher energy outputs and increased stress levels in a plant which impairs its natural resilience to pests and diseases.

Rule of thumb: Giving them consistent environmental conditions is much more important than confusing them with occasional humidity through misting.

You can achieve this by switching from misting to using an air humidifier. Humidifiers are best used in wintertime and increase the overall humidity levels of a room.

Another possibility to raise humidity levels more consistently is to group the humidity-loving plants in the more humid rooms of your home such as the kitchen and bathroom. In these rooms, misting is not necessary at all.

Are you not sure which of your plants loves humidity? Don’t fret! Simply download a plant identifier app and find out what exact plant types you have at home. Check out the pros and cons of the 5 best plant identifier apps in my post.

Do you want to find out what the light conditions are in your bathroom or kitchen? Find out with the accurate light meters that many plant care apps have integrated. Read more about the 7 best free plant care apps right here!

Excessive Misting Attracts Fungal Diseases And Humidity-Loving Pests

Another problem is that misting mainly causes droplets on the plant’s leaves and the upper layer of the soil. Constantly moist soil attracts fungal diseases or pests like the following:

  • Leaf spot disease: This disease can be identified by the many brown dots appearing on the leaves of a plant. It is usually caused by Septoria fungi that love humid climates. This is also a common disease plants get due to overwatering.
  • Grey mold: This bad type of mold is caused by Botrytis fungi that thrive in humid soil and cooler temperatures.
  • Fungus gnats: Fungus gnats lay their eggs in preferably moist soil and live off organic materials and roots in the soil. They are quite annoying tiny little flies that propagate so fast, you’ll soon have legions of them in a single plant pot.

To avoid attracting any kind of disease or pest, do focus on misting the air around the plants instead of directly moistening their leaves.

Also, do never mist in the evenings. Mist your plants only in the morning. During the day, the water on the leaves and the top layer of soil has time to evaporate. If you mist at night, you risk leaving the plant with too much moisture for too long.

Not only misting can cause too much humidity on the soil level. The most common plant mistake is overwatering which happens often because the plant pot does not have appropriate drainage. Check out my post about why drainage is essential and how to well-drain any type of pot.

Do Not Confuse Misting With Watering Your Houseplants

Some houseplant owners might think that misting plants thoroughly is enough to keep them watered. Regular misting can lead to the false conclusion that they have already cared for their plants when they misted them. It makes it easier to forget about watering properly.

Please, don’t mistake misting for watering! Except for some air plants like the Tillandsia, almost no plant is capable of absorbing water through their leaves. Misting can therefore never replace watering, it is only an addition.

Water your houseplants regularly, that is the most essential care you can give them.

Watering houseplants is essential and it should be done the right way to make sure your plants do well. Read on in my complete guide on how to water your indoor plants, soon you’ll be a watering expert!

Do Not Mist Your Plants If You Struggle With Mold Issues

This point is not about your plants but rather about your living conditions. Many flats or houses, especially older ones, have mold issues in some parts of their home. If you know that this is an issue in your home, I recommend not adding any extra humidity by misting or using a humidifier.

My tip here is to let plants do without extra humidity. Even tropical plants will survive with no extra humidity. They might be more prone to pests in wintertime but generally, they can live a good life and if you check on their health regularly, they will be fine.

If you want to know how you check the health of your houseplants, feel free to follow my step-by-step health check for houseplants. It provides a couple of easy steps to assess your houseplants’ health.

Another tip is to stick to plants that prefer drier or moderate environments as these don’t need any extra humidification anyways. Cacti and succulents are among these plant types.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant used to drier conditions, a great addition to your houseplant family is the Snake Plant. Read more about its characteristics and looks in my short but informative plant sheet on the Snake Plant.

Excessive Misting Can Leave Stains On Furniture And Floors

Excessive misting can make a mess as well as leave stains on shelves and floors.

Be careful when misting regularly if you have expensive or sensitive furniture.

Especially with wood or other natural materials, depending on how it is treated, misting can leave water stains behind or cause the material to swell or change shape.

To avoid this, take a dry microfiber cloth and dry the furniture, shelves, and floor right after misting your plants.

In addition, try to use a misting bottle with a very fine spray. This prevents big drops from falling unto furniture and the floor.

Old Dust Gets Compacted on Leaves Through Misting

If you haven’t dusted your plants’ leaves for a long while, there will be a thick layer of dust on them. If you mist the leaves without wiping them off after, the dust will get compacted into an even denser layer. This not only hinders photosynthetic activity, but it is also not aesthetic to look at.

Hence, if you mist your plants, it is best to wipe off the leaves with a clean and soft microfiber cloth right after.

To avoid thick layers of dust on your plants’ leaves, I recommend wiping the leaves every one or two months. You can also wipe them dry, it doesn’t necessarily take misting to clean leaves of dust.

Last But Not Least: Not All Plants Like Misting

Indoor plants from naturally arid regions are not used to humid environments and hence will not appreciate misting at all. Among these are cacti as well as many succulents.

My tip here is to always know about what the natural habitat of each of your plant types is and what environmental conditions they are used to.

What Plants Do Not Like Misting?

Certain plants do not like misting at all. Those are usually plants with the following characteristics:

  • Plants used to dry conditions in their natural habitats
  • Plants that have a special protection layer or hair on the surface of their leaves

Among these plants are all drought-resistant types such as cacti as well as the majority of succulents. Many succulents and cacti have a sort of white powder on the surface of their leaves which acts as a sunscreen against the scorching sun of their hot, arid natural climates as well as gives protection against pests. Spraying such succulents will destroy this layer and make them more vulnerable.

Also, any plant type with a glimmering or waxy layer on its leaves shouldn’t be misted, and neither should you wipe the dust off them with a cloth. Both practices can destroy this special protection layer. Oftentimes, plants are unable to reproduce this layer on mature leaves. Once it is wiped off, it is irrevocably gone.

Some plants have a visible layer of tiny hair on their leaves such as the African Violet or Begonias. Misting them will cause the fuzzy hair that acts as a protection layer to rot.

Tip: For indoor plants that don’t like misting, life doesn’t have to be boring! Why not experiment with all the different natural fertilizers there are from banana water, coffee grounds, or pasta water to give your indoor plants a varied and natural diet? Check out my post linked here where I explain all common natural fertilizers and how to use them!

Further Questions

How to Water Plants When Away?

Are you often on vacation and don’t know how to care for your plants while away? There are many easy solutions to that problem such as organizing a plant nanny, plant foster parents, or installing a simple but effective self-watering system.

Find out more about how to organize your plant care while on vacation in my post linked right here!

Do LED Lights Work For Plants?

LED lights do not just work for indoor plants, but they are even a very good and cost-effective option. When buying LED lights, you can either opt for specific plant lights or you can check the light spectrum of normal LED bulbs to see if they are suitable for plants.

To know what light spectrum you need and more tips on using LED as plant lights, check out my post about what LED lights work for plants!

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