The 3 Houseplant Mistakes Plant Doctors Seriously Want Us To Stop Making

Turns out, not everything you see on TikTok is accurate. Who knew?!

Listen, I love a good TikTok hack. Four years (what?!) later, I still haven’t stopped cooking the ‘TikTok’ pasta that went viral during the first lockdown, and where would I be without the dryer balls I bought from theTikTok shop?

I digress. Of course, not everything you see on TikTok is as simple as it seems and now, Plant Doctor and Horticultural Lead at Patch Plants, Kelly Dyer, is warning that those snazzy houseplant hacks we all rely on from the app could be actually disastrous for our beloved plant children.

So, put down the coffee grounds, resist the urge to, uh, smear mayonnaise and read on for Dyer’s warnings about TikTok’s houseplant hacks.

The houseplant hacks you should avoid

Coffee grounds actually shouldn’t be scattered on your houseplants

Not to out myself as a terrible plant parent but finding out that this isn’t always a good idea... explains a lot of untimely green deaths in my house. According to Dyer, this hack is best with outdoor plants, particularly those that are acid-loving like Heathers, Azaleas and some Hydrangeas.

However, she warned: “I would actively advise not applying coffee grounds to your houseplants, and if you do, only do this occasionally. While it’s true that coffee grounds contain some of the macronutrients that plants need, this should not be used as a substitute for a balanced houseplant feed.”


Dyer added that the grounds are also likely to sit on the top surface of soil surface, creating a barrier to water because of their particles. Unlike outdoors, there are no worms or other living organisms that will integrate the grounds into the soil. Over-application in a contained vessel like a pot also carries the risk of changing the pH of your soil, making it too acidic for the neutral pH most houseplants prefer.

Houseplants ARE famously very sensitive to literally everything so this makes sense, really.

In SHOCKING news, smearing mayonnaise on plant leaves isn’t actually helpful

Are... are we all okay? Because there are a lot of videos advising that we shine our plants leaves using mayonnaise of all things and Dyer is keen to ensure that we all skip this ‘hack’ entirely.

Dyer warns that, despite some creators insisting that the ‘magic’ ingredient here is vinegar, the egg yolk and oils are doing far more harm than good: “The adverse effect of these oils is the risk of clogging up your plant’s stomata (cells that open and close as the plant transpires, exchanging gases and releasing moisture into the air) and negatively affecting your plant’s health in the long term - it is NOT worth it.”

Dyer added that while you should keep your plants dust-free, keeping them ‘shiny’ is an aesthetic preference and should happen naturally in healthy plants. However, if you are keen to keep them shining, Dyer advises dusting, wiping with a damp cloth, natural plant invigorators or leaf shine sprays.

Keep the mayo for your sandwiches.

Talking to plants doesn’t actually help them to grow

There go my Disney Princess dreams.

Despite there being 56 million views of videos stating this, it’s actually just not doing much for the plants themselves. However, Dyer says that the benefit for yourself should not be underestimated: “Any benefit in talking to your plants is psychosomatic, and the powers of this should not be underestimated.

“Chat away, whisper your encouragement and glee at their growth alongside your acts of care like watering, feeding, training, pruning, and repotting.”

Brb, off to give myself, I mean my plants, a pep talk.