Challenges of Indoor Plants: Understanding the Disadvantages

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

When someone asked me what the drawbacks or disadvantages of having indoor plants were, I did not quite know what to say. I had never given much thought to the downside of sharing my indoor space with plants because they add so much value to my life. But once I started thinking about it, I realized that there are a few perceived drawbacks and disadvantages of having indoor plants…and I would like to present them to you.

Yes, you read that right – there are at least 17 disadvantages that come with growing indoor plants. You probably did not think that having indoor plants was something you had to think about so deeply. After all, do you have what it takes to successfully grow indoor plants and overcome the possible disadvantages and drawbacks above? Perhaps you need to know about each of these cons before you decide. To learn more, read on.

17 ways indoor plants can complicate your life:

1. Some indoor plants can be needy.

Not all indoor plants are happy-go-lucky and easy to please. Some plants will need your attention on a nearly daily basis. If you are very busy and do not spend much time at home, a houseplant that is needy will probably wither and die. If you have the time to give it attention; great!

2. Your indoor plants could be a waste of money.

When I first started collecting indoor plants, I wasted a lot of money. This was because I bought plants that were not well suited to an indoor environment, and then I just tried to make it work. The result was that many of my plants withered and died. While it is not always the case, some plants can be a waste of money

3. Plants need humidity indoors.

The majority of house plants, including cacti, thrive in environments with a humidity level of at least 40% and up to 60%, depending on the plant. Most homes have a 30% humidity level. If you want your house plants to thrive, you will need to increase the home’s humidity to around 50% for optimal results. This can take effort and become a little frustrating, especially when you first begin your indoor plant collection. 

To create humidity, you can use a room humidifier, spray the plants with water, stand the plants pots on gravel – the list goes on. You will need to play around until you get it right.

4. They are prone to mold and bacteria growth.

Because plants are indoors and have limited access to sun and airflow, the soil and the plant itself can start to provide a home for mold spores and bacteria. This can have a damaging effect on the plant, plants can start to look unattractive, and the growth of mold can play a role in aggravating allergies. 

5. If you go on vacation, you will need a “plant sitter”.

Every time you go on a vacation or head out of town for a week or more, you are going to need to hire a plant sitter to move the plant into the sun, give it the required water, and make sure that it is protected. This can become inconvenient if you have always been the “lock up and go” type of person. 

6. Indoor plants can be messy.

If you have a minimalist mindset and do not like to spend too much time cleaning and straightening up, having an indoor plant might prove inconvenient for you. Plants can drop leaves, water can leak from their pots and saucers, and there’s always the risk of a pot being knocked over, leaving a soil spillage to clean up.

7. Some plants can be dangerous to pets and children.

Selecting plants to keep indoors becomes tricky if you have children and pets. Not all plants are cheerful, fun-loving plants. Some are actually toxic to both children and pets. Some of these plants include the Peace Lily, Devil’s Ivy, and the Sago Palm.

8. The indoor space can be harmful to your plants.

Many plants do not naturally live indoors, which means that they are designed to flourish in outside environments. If you have a home that consistently runs air conditioners, has no sun coming in the windows, or has destructive pets, your plant might suffer some harm throughout its life indoors.

9. If you are growing herbs and veg, lack of sun can alter the taste.

Some people choose to grow some veggies and herbs inside their homes to help keep insects and undesirable weather damage at bay. While this can be beneficial to the longevity of the plant, it can also change the flavor of your veggies and herbs. Plants need direct sunlight to develop the delicious taste we associate with their fruit. 

10. Certain indoor plants are bad for your health.

New Atlas posted an interesting article on the results of tests done on indoor plants to measure the release of volatile organic compounds. In a test with a Peace Lily, it was found that the plant released 23 volatile compounds. The researchers concluded that while some house plants can remove volatile compounds from the air, they can add to them too. You can check out the details of the test and research here

11. Some indoor plants can try to take over.

I once had a case of a very exuberant house plant that seemed to grow rapidly overnight. Before I knew it, it was trying to take over the entire “plant corner” I had created in my living room. This can, of course, be avoided by choosing plants that are easier to control, or plants that are slow growers. 

12. At times, indoor plants can look unsightly.

Some plants go through a dormant phase or die down during winter. During these months, the shriveled or dry plant can look quite unsightly and ruin your interior’s appeal. 

13. Indoor plants can attract bugs. 

Plants and soil are the ideal living environments for bugs and insects. If you have a house plant, you can rest assured that a bug will try to make a home out of it. If you do not quite like bugs and insects in your home, you are going to have to find a way to manage this.

14. Some indoor plants can be difficult to understand.

Unfortunately, humans do not talk plant. We know a lot about most species of plants, but growing them indoors may throw a spanner into the works. You might find that there is a lot of guessing and re-organizing when you get a new house plant – until it settles and decides to be happy where it is. 

15. Certain plants kept indoors can become time-consuming.

If you like to spend your spare time doing things that are fun for you, you might not be able to do that quite so much when you get a house plant or two. Plants need care and attention, which will take up your time. The more indoor plants you have, the less time spare time you can expect to have too. 

16. Indoor watering can lead to furniture & flooring damage.

When you water your indoor plants, you will probably use a jug or a small watering can. There is always the possibility of spillage, which could end up on the flooring or furniture and subsequently causing damage. 

17. Cleaning tasks increase when you have indoor plants.

Your indoor plant is just another item to dust and sweep up after. If you are averse to cleaning tasks, a plant will merely add to it, so beware. 

The Bottom Line 

Indoor plants are not all bad, although they do come with a variety of cons and drawbacks as listed above. If you are seriously considering getting an indoor plant (or a variety of indoor plants), it is only fair to ensure that you have what it takes and are aware of all the possible challenges, before you take that step. 

If you are ready and have what it takes, prepare for your life to be transformed by sharing your indoor home space with a beautiful new house plant. Good luck!

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.