Misting is a controversial topic. While the benefits are still debated among gardening aficionados, a lot of growers – especially beginners – are torn as to whether or not they should mist their houseplants. And the answer may depend, among other factors, on what species of houseplant you are growing.
Epipremnum aureum, more commonly known as pothos, is a tropical vine that thrives in the steaming jungles of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, China, and the Pacific Islands. To encourage faster and healthier growth, a humid environment should be maintained for these evergreens.
So, should you mist your pothos? Read on to find out whether this method is actually helpful for your plants or not!
Is humidity good for pothos?
Pothos plants are native to regions with warm and humid climates and will thrive better if you can emulate their natural habitat.
As a tropical vine, the pothos plant is happiest in the 50 to 70 percent humidity range. Unfortunately, a typical home cannot naturally maintain this level throughout the year, and if you live in an area with cold winters, it can be even more challenging to achieve the ideal growing conditions for your pothos.
A lot of growers tend to overlook the importance of humidity when it comes to caring for their houseplants. When the air is dry, plants reduce their transpiration rate to conserve moisture, and this inhibits proper photosynthesis and compromises their overall wellbeing.
So, if your pothos is struggling with low humidity, you might start to notice some of these common symptoms:
- The tips and margins of your pothos’ leaves are turning brown.
- Your plant’s foliage is drooping.
- The leaves feel dry and crisp.
- Your pothos’ leaves are prematurely yellowing.
Should you mist your pothos?
Since humidity is so important for your plant’s growth, you might be wondering whether misting will be helpful.
First of all, many gardeners believe in misting because it helps boost the humidity levels around their plants. Plus, it is a great way to get rid of dust from the leaves, given that you will be wiping them off after spraying them with water.
On the flip side, some professional growers do not agree with misting their plants as it drastically increases the risk of diseases and pests. Additionally, they believe misting is only a quick fix that does not provide significant benefits for humidity-deprived plants. If you want to raise the humidity levels in your growing area, a humidifier would be a better option.
So, should you mist your pothos? The short answer would be no. While misting occasionally is fine, this method is not necessary in most cases and the benefits are quite minimal. Besides, there are other proven methods to boost humidity which can save you a lot of time and energy. These practical ways will be discussed in detail in the latter part of this article.
The cons of misting your pothos
Some drawbacks of misting your pothos are further explained below.
1. Humidity gain is temporary
While misting your pothos raises the humidity level a bit, the effect is short-term and would only last for a couple of minutes, depending on the season. Hence, this method does not make a lot of impact on your indoor humidity at all. For this reason, some professional growers discourage misting since it does not offer any real benefits to your houseplants.
2. Increased risk of plant diseases
Misting the leaves and soil, especially at night, creates a moist environment that encourages fungal and bacterial growth. If your pothos is showing signs of disease, then misting will only make this worse. Constant misting can also cause the stems and roots to rot, which leads to irreversible damage.
3. Attracts several pests
Pests like fungus gnats, mealy bugs, and spider mites can take advantage of weakened plants. If the foliage is rotting due to fungal diseases, the lesions can attract pests that will feed on the leaf juices. Therefore, you should avoid misting your pothos particularly if it shows any signs of disease.
Other options to increase humidity
If misting is not the best method to boost humidity, then what are the alternatives?
Here are some tips to keep your pothos happy in a dry environment:
1. Creating a small indoor greenhouse
We all know that temperature and humidity are keys to plant growth. Your pothos needs warmth and adequate moisture to flourish, but as the seasons change, it can be challenging to maintain the right climate indoors.
Traditionally, gardeners would place their plants in a greenhouse in order to stabilize the growing conditions and protect their plants from sudden temperature shifts.
If you want to see your pothos grow to their full potential but do not have enough space for a large greenhouse, do not fret! You can make your own mini-greenhouse or purchase one such as this portable, four-tier mini-greenhouse by Ohuhu. Mini-greenhouses made of glass, such as the one from MCombo, are also great options if you want a growing environment similar to a terrarium.
2. Grouping plants together
Just like humans sweat, plants also transpire by releasing a bit of their retained moisture into the environment. This process is called evapotranspiration, wherein the moisture coming from the soil is transported from the roots, passing through the stems, and up to the leaves. The water is then used for metabolic processes such as photosynthesis before it evaporates through the plant’s stomatal pores.
If you have several humidity-loving plants like the pothos, then grouping them in one location will help increase the humidity level around them all. Each plant transpires and, as a collective, they can all benefit each other within your growing area.
3. Placing the pothos near an aquarium
Aquariums naturally increase the humidity level of the room through evaporation. This can create a perfect growing environment for your pothos and other plants. Even a small or medium-sized fish tank can already add a bit of moisture to the indoor air.
You can also reuse the water from the fish tank to water your pothos since it is rich in nitrogen. So, the next time you clean your aquarium, do not throw away the water! Save this for later use and your pothos will thank you.
4. Adding a moss pole
Moss poles are a great addition to your indoor garden as they provide physical support for your growing plants. You can also use them to train your vining plants upwards instead of growing horizontally, thus saving space and keeping your plants tidy.
Another benefit of using moss poles is that they also help retain more moisture for your pothos and other plants. This can help develop your plant’s aerial roots and encourage healthier foliage.
5. Using a humidifier
Investing in a humidifier will give you the best results if you want to maintain your indoor climate year-round. The device is particularly helpful during the cold months when humidity levels drop below 50 percent. Unlike misting or using pebble trays, a humidifier provides a more accurate humidity level ideal for your tropical plants.
You might also be wondering how to check the humidity level indoors.
Some humidifiers come with built-in hygrometers to keep track of your indoor humidity. If your humidifier does not have one, then you can purchase a hygrometer separately.
Lastly, remember that the humidity level is not always the same throughout your home. For example, your kitchen and bathroom might have higher humidity levels compared with your living room. Depending on how large your house is and where your pothos plants are placed, you might need to invest in multiple humidifiers to achieve a uniform climate throughout the house. Or, as mentioned previously, group your plants together in one area for convenience and the best results.
So, should you mist your pothos? Although misting has been a controversial debate for a long time, the safest answer would be this – mist your plants sparingly if you need a quick solution to boost humidity and clean the leaves. Do not overdo it, or you risk pest infestations and fungal diseases!
If you are looking for longer-term solutions to improve your humidity indoors, you should consider a humidifier. We have also mentioned other methods like fish tanks, mini-greenhouses, grouping plants together, and moss poles. These are also helpful and effective when it comes to humidifying your pothos and other houseplants.
Image: istockphoto.com / Tharakorn