To Mist or Not to Mist: That Is the Question

My friend Eliza with Stamen and Stem recently posted a meme about misting plants, essentially saying the practice has no benefit. This is a controversial topic within the plant community…and as soon as I saw her meme, I knew it was going to create some drama! And needless to say, I was NOT disappointed. Whew – talk about a hot topic!

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Image via Stamen and Stem

The topic of misting comes down to on important element of plant care:  humidity. Most houseplants are considered tropical plants, meaning that they require a tropical-like environment to thrive. What do you know about weather in the tropics? It’s typically hot and humid, right? Because of that, many tropical houseplants do well with a relative humidity of around 70-80% (source). If you live in a space where the humidity is lower than that, your tropical plants may not do grow as well.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to misting: those who feel it is beneficial to a plant, and those who feel it is not.

As I prepared to write this blog, I decided to do a little poll on Instagram to see how many of my followers were misters and how many were non-misters. I was absolutely shocked to see how close the numbers were – with even more misters than non-misters responding! What a fun little tidbit of research to do as I dove into this subject!

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Background image via Williams-Sonoma
Misters

I know that misting is a very common practice in the plant community. Many of my plant friends swear by misting, saying that it helps their plants thrive. My Instagram friend @allidoesyoga told me, “I mist because it seems like a gentle rain for the plant babies.” Another Instagram friend, @foliage_therapy, swears that misting helps leaves grow bigger, while @naomiplanter says that misting helps leaves on her velvet philos unfurl without getting stuck and tearing.

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My little mister – a Christmas gift from my BFF!

The rationale behind most misting is that it boosts the humidity of the plant’s environment. The increased humidity helps meet the plants biological needs and thereby helps the plant thrive.

I searched all over the Internet to find research supporting misting, but unfortunately, I could not find anything concrete. I found many, many articles encouraging/advising the practice of misting, but none of them really explained benefits beyond increased humidity.

Non-Misters

Those who feel that misting isn’t beneficial argue that misting only raises the humidity around the plant for a few minutes – until the tiny water droplets have evaporated. The University of Illinois Extension explains it this way, “The humidity level is affected for only a short time and repeated misting is necessary” (source). This leaves your plant living in a low-humidity environment the rest of the time.

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Image via Frida Florentina

One of my IG plant friends – @that_one_plant_guy – explains another concern with misting. He says, “Water that sits on the leaf surface is the perfect for bacteria and fungi to start their life cycle. All that’s needed is the pathogen, the correct environment (water on the leaf), and a host (your plant).”

Research backs him up: according to the University of Vermont Extension, “A film of water on the foliage is often all that various fungus spores need to germinate” (source).Yikes! Like I don’t have enough to worry about when it comes to my plant babies…

Me? Oh, I’m a….

I’m sure some of you are wondering: “Is the {house}plant momma a mister or a non-mister?” Well, here’s the truth: I have a little mister that my BFF got me, and I absolute love it. It sits on one of my shelves, styled nicely with some plants.

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Image via Appetite Shop 

But…that’s all it does: sits on a shelf looking pretty. I am a non-mister. Initially, I didn’t mist my plants because I didn’t like the “mess” that my mister made. There’s no way to control where the water spray goes, and I didn’t like having to wipe down a bunch of surfaces every time I used the mister. However, the more I have learned about misting, the more I have realized that I don’t feel it is a best practice.

Methods of Increasing Moisture

There’s no denying that plants need moisture and humidity. One way to increase humidity around plants is to use a humidifier. Many humidifiers even have a gauge on them that tells you the relative humidity of the space. (This is the humidifier I have.) Keen in mind that as you raise your humidity, it is important that you don’t raise the temperature too much. “With a given amount of water in the air, the higher the air temperature, the lower the relative humidity” (source). 

Another way to increase humidity for your plants is to group them together. Plants naturally release moisture through their leaves in a process called transpiration. This release of moisture can help create a humid microclimate.

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Plants grouped together in my home – my husband refers to this as my “jungle.”

Some people feel that putting plants on a water tray with pebbles. This method, however, is about as controversial is misting – raising the question if this truly raises the overall humidity of the environment. However, a word of caution: This method can cause the plant to run the risk of root rot if not implemented properly. Additionally, standing water can become a breeding ground for insects. (Gross!)

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So tell me: are you a mister or a non-mister? Please tell me in the comments below….and don’t forget to tell me WHY!

– the {house}plant momma

4 Replies to “To Mist or Not to Mist: That Is the Question”

  1. My daughters all have betta fish. I keep them strategically placed throughout my plant shelves. The water naturally evaporates, the fish get nice sunny spots, everyone seems happy with the arrangement.

    Like

  2. So I normative. Thank you. My mother misted,but I think I will. I’m still learning and developing my plant care skills. I’ll keep it simple for a while.

    Like

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