How to Get Odors Out of Houseplants

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Things You'll Need

  • Soilless growing media

  • Odorless fertilizer


Look for organic soil that claims to be free of chemicals and contaminants that tend to harbor odor-causing bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. If growing houseplants in plain water, refresh the water regularly to prevent algal growth that tends to smell bad. Some houseplants bloom with exotic smelling flowers. If the smell of the flowers is offensive, move the plant outdoors for the duration of the bloom. Alternatively, cut the flowers off and put them in a vase outdoors.

People have houseplants in their homes to add visual interest and natural décor to a living space. They also have them to improve the indoor air quality. However, there are occasions when houseplants can produce a bad odor that can foul up the indoor atmosphere. To get odors out of houseplants, find the source and address the reasons for the stench.

Step 1

Determine which houseplant is the culprit. If there's a general smell of rotting soil in a house full of indoor plants, find out which container is causing the odor. Remove the stinking plant.

Step 2

Check the water catcher or drainage saucer. Catchers are used to protect the floor and furniture from water and moisture seeping from the houseplants. In some cases, the water in the catchers remains standing too long and become foul smelling. Always empty the water catchers about an hour after watering so that it doesn't become a haven for odor-causing bacteria.

Step 3

Remove decaying leaves and plant parts. Fallen leaves that rot on the soil can give off a musty smell.

Step 4

Check the soil for fungus and algae. Affected container pots and plants cause odors and allergies and must be taken out of the house.

Step 5

Avoid overwatering. Keeping the soil overly moist can cause root rot, which not only gives off a rotten smell but also kills the plant.

Step 6

Use soilless growing media for indoor plants. Potting soil that is peat-based and pest-free is odor-free as well. Regular soil, which has compost and dried manure that tends to smell when wet, is best used for plants that are kept outdoors.

Step 7

Use odorless fertilizer. Check for available brands at garden centers.


Ruby Bayan

Ruby Bayan has been a writer for more than a decade. She has contributed to print publications such as "Stringing Magazine," "Energy for Women," "EcoFlorida" and the "Orlando Sentinel," as well as various websites. Bayan holds a bachelor's degree in biology.