When brining new plants into your home most people consider important aspects like location, lighting, and watering. One item, that is no less important, that is often over looked is humidity. Proper humidity levels can play a big role in your plant’s health, and having wildly incorrect levels can be detrimental. Today, we’ll look at humidity for houseplants, and what you can do to easily control it.
House Plant Humidity Danger
Proper humidity levels are essential for plants as it helps them grow effectively. Too low humidity levels will often stunt a plants growth, and can lead it to later having trouble absorbing water.
Low humidity levels also often lead to overwatering. Many gardeners will often mistake a plant reacting to low humidity as sign that it needs to be watered. This can lead to overwatering, which is one of the easiest ways to kill a plant.
One of the worst times for low humidity is during winter months when the air is dryer. This is often compounded by the air that a furnace is pushing around the house which is dry as well. While humidity levels can be low year round, winter is when most gardeners will deal with it. There’s a lot you can do, and we’ll get into those later, but start by making sure your plant isn’t near and air ducts.
Humidity for House Plants
All plants are different, but in general houseplants like humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent. Some require more, and other less, so take some time to learn about your specific plants needs. The best rule of thumb is to try and mimic the natural environment of your plant. Venus Flytraps, for example, typically like it much more humid than many other plants.
Most of us don’t have the means to measure the exact humidity, so look out for the following symptoms:
- Browning leaves
- Wilting plant
- Flowers shrivel before fully opening
You might recognize some of these as symptoms of other problems (under/over watering, lighting, etc.) so take care to rule out other issues before jumping to humidity being the problem. Be careful though, as improper watering can quickly kill a plant.
How To Increase The Humidity
Raising the humidity of your plants is not a difficult task, and there are a lot of options available to do so. Here’s a list of a couple popular and easy to do options.
An easy, but temporary way of raising the humidity is misting your plants. Spraying your plants with a little bit of water is an excellent way to keep them moist and the relative humidity up. In fact, some plants actually thrive when misted frequently. Generally, giving your plants a quick mist in the morning is ample to make a difference.
This is also a great way to keep plants looking great without overwatering them. Especially in the hotter months, it’s not uncommon to see drooping leaves, and quick daily mist can often fix this. This can also help rule out watering issues and helps prevent accidentally overwatering.
Placing your plants into small groups can also help keep their humidity levels up. By having several plants close together they will naturally help nearby plants through transpiration. This works for plants with moderate humidity needs. Take care to understand any companion growing issues though if you’re grouping different plants together.
Another popular way to increase the humidity is with a pebble tray. A pebble tray is exactly as it sounds; a small tray of pebbles. The pebbles prevent the roots from getting waterlogged, and allow the water to naturally evaporate. As the water evaporates, it saturates the air around the plant and increase the humidity. There are specialty trays you can add to existing pots, or you can plan ahead and fill the bottom inch of your container with pebbles to get a similar effect.
A standard room humidifier is also a good choice if you’re not concerned with keeping the humid change local to the plant. This will effect the whole room, and is great for long term use especially in the winter. If you’re doing a larger scale grow then a humidifier is often a must to control the humidity throughout the room.
Humidifiers come in all sizes, so pick one that works for your growing location. You can find some quite small humidifiers that will generally localize the humidity changes.
If you’re looking to grow tropical plant or other high humidity plants you’ll need to take specialized measures. For plants looking for humidity over 70 percent it’s generally quite difficult to keep a room at proper humidity levels for them.
In cases such as this it may be better to investigate growing in a small terrarium. A terrarium works perfect for high humidity plants as it aggressively traps in moisture and provides a perfect climate for plants in that category. This is similar to a greenhouse, which will also work quite well for keep humidity levels up.
Don’t Over Humidify
Too much of a good thing can be bad. Too much humidity can also damage you plants. It can also encourage mold to grow on or around your plants, which no one wants.
If your plant is in a room that is naturally humid like a bathroom or kitchen, then you’re likely not to need to do any additional work. It should naturally be humid enough for most plants.
The key is that the above is not a one size fits all solution. It’s important to understand your plants which will help you decide the right path to take in their care.
Humidity for House Plants
Now you’re armed with the knowledge of how to handle humidity with your plants, and you’ll be able to grow beautiful plants year round. Remember, humidity issues are most likely to arise in the winter months, so take care to pay special attention to your plants when the temperature drops!
Humidity for House Plants FAQ
Why Is Humidity Important?
Humidity plays a role in many plants growth, and having too low/high humidity levels can stunt the growth of your plant. This is especially the case for tropical plants or those that naturally grow in high humidity environments.
What Are the Signs Of Humidity Problems?
The signs are similar to other plant issues and include drooping, browning leaves, and stunted growth.
How Can I Fix Humidity Issues?
Generally, you want to increase the humidity level around the plant. This can be done with misting, pebble trays, or humidifiers.
How Important Is Humidity
Very important, although that does vary by plant. Some are much more picky about their optimal humidity levels, while others are more accommodating in their range. It really is no different than most other care.