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Five TikTok houseplant hacks an expert warns could do more harm than good

By Rachael Gavin|

A good houseplant hack is worth its weight in potting mix if it means our greenery thrives and there are plenty from TikTok worth trying.

However, not all the ?tips and tricks on the platform are OK for indoor plants and might actually do more harm than good, according to Kelly Dyer, plant doctor and horticultural expert at Patch Plants.

Watch the video above.

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Houseplants, indoor plant
Good watering and potting can care better for your plants than most hacks. (Getty)

Here are five houseplants hacks Dyer says we shouldn't bother trying:

Shining leaves with mayonnaise?

Instead of using a cloth dampened with water or neem oil, some houseplant collectors have been heading to the fridge to source their polishing product of choice: mayonnaise.

But unsurprisingly, wiping a condiment all over your plant isn't helping them at all and is in fact quite damaging.

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"?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 ¨C it is NOT worth it," she says.

"Your plant's leaves need to be dust-free to photosynthesis and transpire effectively, but they do not need to shine. This is purely an aesthetic preference. Any houseplants that have naturally shiny leaves, are best kept this way through ensuring their robust health through watering, potting and feeding."

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Bottom watering

Often considered the gold standard approach to watering plants, and popularised by houseplant collectors on TikTok, Dyer isn't completely against this hack but warns it can lead to root rot for some plants.

"?Because minerals aren't being flushed through the soil when bottom watering; if your plant doesn't have many roots or is not drawing up the water for active growth, it could end up sitting in wet soil, leading to root rot," she says.

If bottom watering your plants, check the top soil regularly so you can remove the pot from the water as soon as possible.

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Bottom watering an indoor plant
Bottom watering can be a good way to water plants if you don't overdo it. (TikTok/@alyplantsnstuff)

?Playing music and talking to plants

Some indoor plant owners have posted videos of themselves playing music and talking to their plants claiming it helps boost growth.

As lovely as this sounds, Dyer says the science isn't there to back it up and that, if anything, it's the sound waves stimulating nutrient uptake in the plants rather than music or talking.

That doesn't mean you have to stop though if it's something you enjoy doing and believes helps in the care of your plants, because this hack is harmless.

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Using fish tank water?

Home aquarium owners might think waste not, want not when cleaning their fish tanks by using some of the water on your houseplants, but this TikTok hack is bad news for your plants because it might be too high in minerals

"This depends on a variety of factors. It shouldn't be used if you have added any chemicals to the tank and it definitely shouldn't be used if the water isn't changed frequently, because it may be too high in minerals and over-fertilise your plants."?

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Collecting fish tank water to use on an indoor plant
Leave the fish tank water to the fish, not your plants. (TikTok/@lizmthny)

Carbonated water

Most of us water our plants with good old tap water, but according to TikTok using sparkling or carbonated water can help our plants thrive by stimulating nutrient uptake from the soil.

Dyer says this hack doesn't have the scientific evidence to back it up and you'll get better results with balanced fertiliser anyway.

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