What You Should Know About Misting Houseplants

Misting houseplants can be a valuable part of houseplant care so long as you know when, how, and what types of plants to mist. There are a few common mistakes that people make with misting that causes more harm than good. Likewise, if you’re misting plants without following the other basics of houseplant care, you could end up with a houseplant that’s struggling because it’s too dry and too wet at the same time.

Misting is Not the Same Thing as Watering

This is the most common mistake people make about misting houseplants. Misting provides a quick blast of water which can help keep plants cool and which adds humidity to the air, albeit only for a little while. It will moisten the topmost layer of soil and is the preferred method of watering for young seedlings with delicate and shallow root systems. Otherwise, misting is the not the same thing as watering. Mature houseplants need water that penetrates through their entire root system, but then quickly drains to moderate soil moisture levels before root rot sets in. In a worst-case scenario, you’re constantly misting and never watering so that you have mold growing in the top of the soil, while the foliage is parched.

Misting is Not the Same Thing as Increasing Humidity

Tropical plants like humidity, but that doesn’t mean they like heavy, regular misting. Misting only increases the humidity levels for a short time. Your plant is more likely to see mold growth before it sees the benefits of increased humidity. Plus, there are better ways to increase humidity. For individual rooms or the whole house, an air humidifier is one obvious choice. A pebble tray full of water is another great way to modestly increase humidity in the vicinity around your houseplant for extended periods of time. Terrariums will also capture and hold more humidity than open space indoor plants.

The Benefits of Misting Houseplants

The most definitive benefit of misting houseplants is that it removes dust and other grime that may be clogging plant leaves and keeping them from breathing. The best misting treatment usually involves wiping the water off plant leaves with a clean cloth or paper towel. For many plants, you can even think of misting houseplants simply as cleaning houseplants.

Air plants are one of the few plants that definitely like misting and the humidity it provides. Even still, misting is not the same as watering air plants. We’ve talked to air plant vendors who advise their customers that air plants in frequently used bathrooms need only misting to keep them healthy. It’s true that in this type of environment air plants don’t need a full soak watering as often—but you should still make the effort to soak them at least once a season, if not once a month.

Some houseplants are fine receiving a reasonable amount of direct sunlight but can be harmed by the warmer temperatures that come with the summer sun. A mid-afternoon misting can cool houseplants down a smidge, but still be careful about overdoing it. 

Dangers of Over-Misting

There are common dangers that come with misting houseplants too much. If the top layers of soil have too much moisture for too long, mold and fungus may start growing. Root rot is another potential consequence of oversaturated soil. Consistently dampened soil and leaves also provide a better environment for many types of pests to attack most types of houseplants. A few plants, like African violets, may suffer if water pools between its leaves and stems. You can often minimize these dangers by not misting all the time or too much at a time. It’s also smart to focus on misting leaves from above the plant.

All in all, many types of houseplants will do best with no misting, some will like only occasional misting, and very few may like regular misting. Know what’s at stake and how to calibrate misting as part of your houseplant care for specific types of plants.