> Why you SHOULDN'T mist your plants! – Plant Daddy YQG
Why you SHOULDN'T mist your plants!

Why you SHOULDN'T mist your plants!

I getcha.

One of the first things that everyone thinks of when they think of "caring for your plants" is giving them a nice mist -- the spray bottle is right up there with a watering can. What's more, you probably know by now that most tropicals prefer higher-than-average humidity -- and every single houseplant site suggests misting a few times a week as a remedy!

So why SHOULDN'T you mist your houseplants?

 First, let's look at the purported benefits. Then, we'll explore the potential drawbacks -- and, finally, I'll mention the one time I do suggest misting!

Supposed Benefits

As I said earlier, the #1 reason everyone and their favourite aunt says to mist your houseplants is to raise the humidity around the plant! The idea is that you're adding water droplets to the air, as well as some water on the leaves that will evaporate and add to the humidity. Proponents suggest misting anywhere from once a week to several times a day, depending on the person and the plant in question.

The problem, though, is that if you check with a hygrometer -- a device for measuring humidity levels -- then you'll see that misting DOES raise the relative humidity levels for the plant...

... For all of ten, maybe fifteen minutes. After that, it goes right back down to the baseline.

See, nature likes a balance. When the air around your plant has lots of humidity, it doesn't just stay there -- not when there's less-humid air around it! It dissipates into the air at large, and so the relative humidity doesn't noticeably increase, once it settles.

Potential Drawbacks

There are three major potential drawbacks to misting your plants -- two of which aren't super common, but both of which could be potentially devastating... and the third one is a lot more common than you'd think!

First: Every time you mist, you're adding water to the plant and pot. For some plants -- especially succulents -- you could be disrupting a delicate balance; if you're already heavy-handed on the watering, regular misting as well could spell doom.

But more worrisome, and more likely, is the potential to cause a fungal infection! This can completely ruin your leaves, and has the potential to spread quite rapidly in moist conditions.

The biggest problem, though, is when you mist a plant that has a still-unfurling leaf... and water gets inside the folds of that leaf. New leaves are tender and fragile and susceptible to all sorts of horrible things (like tearing themselves, sometimes even in half, because they don't unfurl right) -- including leaf rot! This happens when sensitive leaves have standing water on them; any plant can fall prey to it, but new leaves are particularly easy to rot with standing water from misting. Imagine the disappointment you'll feel when a new leaf finally unfurls... and it's half-brown already!

(Why doesn't this happen in the wild, you ask? Well -- it does, just rarely. The reason that it's so rare is that in the wild, there's pleeeeeenty of airflow, which makes standing water disappear pretty quickly. If you get water on some sensitive leaves, whatever the reason, pop the plant in front of your desk fan for half an hour -- you'll be golden!)

Why you SHOULD mist your houseplants

There are exactly two times that I suggest misting your houseplants... but only one is completely science-backed, I'll admit.

First, the science-y one: plants are able to feed through their leaves, through a phenomenon called foliar feeding. This means that, if you add fertilizer to your spray bottle, your misting actually does serve a demonstrable purpose -- you're fertilizing your plants! Depending on how you normally water your plants, how often you fertilize, and how many plants you have, this may even be the most efficient fertilization method for you!

And lastly... They're your plants.

You want to love on them.

I get it.

So, when you want to love on your plants, but you've taken the last photo your phone storage will hold, your Plantstagram has unfollowed itself, and you watered an hour ago?

Mist your plants. The odds are low that you'll cause any damage -- and they're certainly lower than if you walk around with a watering can in hand again.

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