A surprisingly large number of sites around the world are left abandoned despite the presence of contaminants posing clear risks for the environment and human health. For many land owners of these sites, the cost of current decontamination technologies is prohibitive. Over the last two decades, discoveries in microbiology and plant science have regularly found that, under certain conditions, phytoremediation is a cost-effective tool for remediating sites with organic contaminants and trace elements. However, awareness and use of this technology by practitioners lags significantly behind that of conventional technology, reflecting a status quo bias and preference for conventional excavation. Drawing on data from an original survey of soil decontamination practitioners, this study sheds new light on why, despite its promise, phytoremediation remains under-used. This research highlights the challenge of transferring scientific knowledge from the laboratory to practitioners working to mitigate serious environmental problems.