The Misting Myth? All About Misting Your Indoor Plants

Along with the rising popularity of indoor plants, misting plants has evolved from a secret tip to a common practice. Today, almost any plant store or garden center is selling misting sprays as an essential part of your indoor plant care kit. But is misting actually effective or is it one of those green thumb myths?

Misting plants does not constitute an essential part of plant care as it only temporarily raises humidity levels around plants. However, misting once a month can promote clean leaves and the avoidance of certain pests such as spider mites, thrips, or aphids that thrive in dry weather.

While misting is not a miracle treatment for plant care, there are some benefits to it and you should know how to mist your plants right to avoid any downsides of this highly debated plant practice.

Mist Or Water? – Misting Is Never A Substitute For Watering Plants

Some people ask themselves if they should mist or water indoor plants. First off: Asking about misting OR watering is definitely the wrong mindset! It should always be about misting AND watering your houseplants. Watering is a must.

If you want to know more about how to water your houseplants the right way, check out my complete watering guide for houseplants through this link.

Do always consider that misting is only an extra for plant care. Even the so-called air plants need soaking which mimics the occasional rainfall. Just misting just won’t do it for any plant. Misting never substitutes watering your houseplants but acts as an addition to it.

Besides, most plants cannot absorb water from misting, they are only capable of absorbing water through their roots or with other methods. One of the rare species that does absorb water through its leaves is the Tillandsia air plant.

Did you know that most of the common tropical houseplants can be kept in just water? This is called hydroponics and is currently seeing a rise in popularity. It’s for a reason! Check out my post on how to grow plants in water (including suitable plant types) to learn how to do this.

Misting Is Good For Indoor Plants But Has Limited Efficacy

When misting, often the leaves get too many water droplets while the air around them doesn’t

Misting is not as effective as one would think given the huge hype around it, and it only temporarily adds humidity around a plant’s leaves. It can be a refreshment to them but the effects only last so long.

The best effect misting really has, is to help clean the leaves of a plant. Spray the leaves, then wipe them off with a clean microfiber cloth. Do not leave the water on the leaves as it might leave visible traces of lime deposits.

Aside from that, misting can help against certain pests such as spider mites, thrips, and aphids, or diseases such as powdery mildew. These pests love dry weather and plants are prone to them, especially during winter.

For misting your plants in an adequate way, here are three major tips to consider:

  • Use a misting bottle with a fine spray: Regular household water sprays are usually a bit too hard on plants. Make sure your mister sprinkles gently.
  • Mist the air, not the leaves: Focus on the air around plants when misting. Do not spray the leaves or the soil.
  • Know about the natural habitat: Before you start misting any plant, always look up if it is a plant that loves humidity given its tropical natural habitat. If not, do not mist the plant.

So do plants really need misting? As a matter of fact, houseplants can do without misting. Misting only very temporarily raises the humidity around a plant. What houseplants truly need is humidity.

Does Misting Increase Humidity Levels?

Right after misting, the water vapor disseminates in the air across the whole room and a couple of minutes later, the effect is already lost. To give you an idea of how fast this happens: Misting is said to increase the humidity in the air around a plant for about 10min.

To sustainably raise humidity levels with misting, you would need a whole fine-drop micro sprinkling system installed that permanently sprinkles water over all your plants, as they do in tropical or agricultural greenhouses as this article in Agrociencia (Nr. 38, 2004) suggests.

In your average home, creating a tropical climate by having mist constantly sprinkling down from the ceiling doesn’t sound like a feasible option, does it?

Luckily, you don’t have to do that. There are much better ways to increase the humidity levels of a room. Though misting with a spray bottle can become almost a meditative routine, consider switching the spray with a proper air humidifier. This is the most effective way to increase humidity indoors and is easily adjustable to exactly the percentage of humidity you want to achieve.

Humidifiers vaporize water and permanently raise the humidity levels in your home. We usually use a humidifier during the winter months when the air is especially dry due to heating indoors. In summer, running the humidifier is usually not necessary.

Good to Know: Especially in winter, increasing the humidity of your indoor air not only has benefits for plants but also for you. Very dry air in our homes can damage our skin and hair and generally makes our bodies more prone to get sick.

How Often Do You Mist Indoor Plants?

For cleaning the leaves, misting once every month or even every two months is enough.

For plant refreshment or just for your own sprinkling pleasures: Mist your plants preferably once or twice in the morning. The morning time is when plants activate after the night’s rest and it gives the water droplets on the leaves and soil enough time to evaporate during the day. Getting plants wet before dark is not a good idea, as the water sits for too long which can attract fungal diseases or certain pests.

When misting, focus on the air around the plant, not the plant itself. Do not mist plant but the air.

Another tip of mine that I find to be more effective than misting is showering plants off. Plants that love humidity are usually from tropical climates. In the tropics, when it rains, it pours. Hence, many of these tropical houseplants love to get a shower. This cleanses the leaves and the soil. Typical plants to shower off are Ficus, Monstera, Hoya, Epipremnum (Pothos), or Philodendron.

From my experience, showering tropical plants has a positive effect on them as it is cleansing and invigorating. The plants often produce lots of fresh young leaves in the weeks that follow.

When showering plants, make sure you let all the excess water flow out for about 1-2 hours before putting them back in their planters, and do also skip the next watering.

Showering is usually done with tap water. But for watering your plants regularly, there are many options to improve the water quality you provide for your houseplants. From rainwater, distilled water, or filtered tap water: Read on in my post on what the best water is for indoor plants and how you can improve your water quality at home!

The Disadvantages of Misting Indoor Plants

  • Excessive misting can make a mess or leave stains on shelves and floors. Be careful when misting regularly if you have expensive or sensitive furniture.
  • Plants are creatures of habit: Giving them persistent environmental conditions is much more important than confusing them with occasional humidity through misting. Hence, misting can confuse plants about their environmental conditions. In the long run, this can lead to inadequate responses from the plant leading to less resilience.
  • If you happen to live in a very humid flat with issues of moldy spots, adding any more humidity is not recommended. You’d best stick to plants that prefer drier environments as these don’t need any extra humidification.
  • Another problem is that misting mainly causes droplets on the plants’ leaves and on the upper layer of the soil. Constantly moist soil attracts fungal diseases or pests like fungus gnats.
  • Not all plants like misting: Plants from naturally arid regions are not used to humid environments and hence will not appreciate misting at all. Among these are cacti and succulents.

Misting is not the only cause of fungal diseases. The main cause of soil diseases or root rot is inappropriate drainage in a pot. Discover why plants need drainage so badly and how to create adequate drainage in any type of pot by checking out my post.

Short Wrap-Up: Misting Is A Myth But Increasing Humidity Isn’t

Overall, misting really is more of a green thumb myth than it has positive effects on your indoor plants.

What is important though is where that myth comes from: It comes from the need to increase humidity levels of the air for tropical houseplants, especially in wintertime when our indoor air becomes very dry.

And that’s what you should keep in mind. It is all about increasing the humidity. Best suited for that task are air humidifiers that will permanently and evenly raise the humidity in a room.

Another lesson to take away from the misting myth is that knowing about the natural habitat of each plant you have is key to a happy plant life. You don’t want to end up misting a plant that naturally grows in deserts.

Extra Tip: Are you not sure what plant types you have and if they need humidity? Use a plant identifier app to find out the exact plant species you have at home and what its water and light requirements are. Check out the best 5 plant identifier apps by clicking right here to my next post.

Further Questions

What Counts as Direct or Indirect Light For Houseplants?

For your houseplants to thrive, it is essential to know what light requirements each of them has and also, what spots in your home have the required light conditions. You won’t be able to meet every plant’s specific light needs but it’s enough to correspond to them approximately for your plant to do well.

That said, it is not that easy to find out! A good base to start off from is to know what counts as direct or indirect light as well as understanding what the plant label indicates in terms of light requirements.

In my post about direct and indirect light, I explain what the plant labels tell you as well as what spots in your home most probably have direct or indirect light. Check it out and become a light expert!

Tip: Do you want to know exactly what light conditions there are at specific spots in your home? Many plant care apps have integrated light meters that are very accurate. Check out the 7 best free plant care apps through this link to find one that suits you!

Is It OK to Have Plants In Your Bedroom?

Not everyone thinks of plants in bedrooms as a good idea. Overall, no significant reasons speak against having plants in your bedroom. Especially favorable for bedrooms are those plant types that release oxygen at nighttime instead of daytime.

Would you like to decorate your bedroom with some greenery but are unsure what plant types are suitable for bedrooms? In my post linked here, I explain what to look out for in and consider for bedroom plants and present 6 plant types adequate for your sleeping space!

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