Discover the truth behind common houseplant myths, from air purification to watering schedules. Learn how to care for your houseplants effectively and debunk the misconceptions surrounding them.


Have you ever wondered if houseplants really purify the air or if they need to be watered every day? There are so many myths and misconceptions about houseplants that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. In this article, we will dive into the world of houseplants and debunk some of the most common myths surrounding them. From air purification to watering schedules, we will explore the truth behind these myths and provide you with accurate information to help you care for your houseplants effectively.

Houseplant Myth 1: Houseplants purify the air indoors

One of the most prevalent myths about houseplants is their ability to purify the air indoors. While it is true that certain plants can remove toxins from the air, the number of plants required for significant air purification is much higher than what most people have in their homes. In fact, scientific studies conducted in controlled environments have shown that approximately 5,000 plants would be needed in a 500-square-foot apartment to achieve the desired air purification effect[^1]. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on having houseplants altogether.

Certain plants, such as the areca palm and pothos, are considered good choices for improving indoor air quality[^1]. So, while they may not single-handedly purify the air in your home, they can still contribute to a healthier indoor environment.

Houseplant Myth 2: Lack of sunlight prevents houseplants from growing

Another common myth is that houseplants need direct sunlight to thrive. While it is true that many houseplants prefer bright, indirect light, there are several types of houseplants that can actually thrive with little to no sunlight. Snake plants, philodendrons, and pothos vines are great examples of plants that can tolerate low light conditions. These plants have adapted to survive in the understory of forests, where they receive filtered or dappled light. So, if you have a north-facing window or a room with limited sunlight, you can still enjoy the beauty of indoor plants.

Houseplant Myth 3: Houseplants need to be watered every day

Watering houseplants can be a tricky task, and there is a common misconception that they need to be watered every day. In reality, overwatering is one of the most common causes of death for houseplants. Most houseplants actually prefer to dry out between waterings, as their roots need oxygen to function properly. The general rule of thumb is to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. This means checking the moisture level of the soil by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water the plant.

It’s important to note that different plants have different watering needs, so it’s best to research the specific requirements for each plant in your collection. Drought-tolerant plants, such as cacti and succulents, require much less water than tropical plants like ferns and orchids. By understanding the individual needs of your houseplants, you can avoid overwatering and keep them happy and healthy.

Houseplant Myth 4: Houseplants need large pots to grow

It is a common misconception that houseplants need large pots to grow. In reality, transferring a plant to a pot that is too large can actually harm or even kill it. When a plant is placed in a pot that is too big, the excess soil can retain more moisture, which can lead to root rot and other issues. It’s important to choose a pot size that is appropriate for the plant’s current size and root system. Transplanting a plant into a slightly larger pot will allow it to grow without overwhelming it.

Houseplant Myth 5: Houseplants can be harmful to pets if ingested

The safety of houseplants for pets is a common concern among pet owners. While it is true that certain houseplants can be toxic if ingested by pets, there are also many houseplants that are considered pet-friendly. African violets, begonias, and Christmas cacti are just a few examples of safe options for households with pets. It’s important to research the toxicity of specific plants before bringing them into your home to ensure the safety of your furry friends. Additionally, many pets tend to ignore houseplants altogether, so the risk of ingestion may be minimal.

Houseplant Myth 6: Growing vegetables indoors is not possible

Many people believe that growing vegetables is only possible in outdoor gardens. However, with the right conditions and care, it is entirely possible to grow vegetables indoors. Potted herbs are a popular option for growing indoors, as they can be kept on windowsills and provide fresh herbs for cooking. Additionally, some vegetables can be regrown from scraps right in your kitchen. Green onions, lettuce, and celery can all be regrown by placing the root ends in cups of water. With a little patience, you can have a mini indoor vegetable garden at your fingertips.

Houseplant Myth 7: Houseplants are expensive

Another common myth surrounding houseplants is that they are expensive. While it is true that some houseplants can be pricey due to their growth time or rarity, there are also many affordable options available. If you’re looking to expand your houseplant collection without breaking the bank, consider looking for free or low-cost houseplants on platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor. Many people are willing to give away or sell young plants at a fraction of the price you would find at a nursery. Starting with younger plants can also be more economical in the long run, as you can watch them grow and develop over time.

Houseplant Myth 8: People without a green thumb are doomed to kill houseplants

The belief that people without a green thumb are doomed to kill houseplants is a common misconception. The truth is, anyone can learn to care for houseplants successfully. Even experienced gardeners make mistakes along the way. The key to success is continuous education and adaptation. By learning from your mistakes and adjusting your care techniques, you can improve your plant care skills and keep your houseplants thriving. Taking notes, observing your plants, and grouping them based on their watering needs can also be helpful in ensuring their survival.


In conclusion, houseplants bring beauty and life into our homes, but there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding their care. By debunking these myths and understanding the truth behind them, we can provide our houseplants with the care they need to thrive. From understanding their watering needs to choosing the right lighting conditions, we can create a healthy environment for our indoor green friends. So, go ahead and embrace the world of houseplants with confidence, armed with the knowledge of truth.


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