It’s possible that humidity isn’t often talked about because it can’t be seen, but humidity for indoor plants is a key factor in their growth and health! In this post I’m sharing how much humidity different house plants need, along with the normal levels our homes typically sit at.
If you have a lot of high-humidity loving plants, read on to also learn how to create a humid environment they’ll thrive in, indoors!
Ideal Humidity Levels for Plants & Homes
When it comes to humidity, our homes naturally sit at around 40-60%. This is generally a comfortable amount for people. However, some plants require a lot higher humidity levels! Think about a plant’s natural environment to help discern the humidity level they might like.
For example, tropical plants such as ferns, Fiddle Leaf Figs and Calathea love humidity up to around 80-90%. Often these plants are considered ‘house plants’ as they’re shade loving, meaning they don’t need direct sun to survive. However humidity isn’t often taken into account, and can be a cause of suffering for indoor plants.
Causes of Low Humidity
Generally the number one cause of differing humidity levels is the climate where you live. Naturally, colder places have drier air and tropical, warm places have higher humidity (unless you live in the desert)! While plants can generally adapt to some extent to lower humidity levels than they like, there may come a time when they need more to give you lush, flawless growth.
Keep in mind that low humidity is often worse during winter, or if you’re running constant cooling or heating in your home. Air conditioners and furnaces can zap the moisture from our homes. We can often notice when the air is dry through our skin feeling dry and/or tight. Plants are even more sensitive than us to low humidity – so if you’re feeling it, know that your plants probably are too!
Measuring the Humidity in your Home
So how do you find out how humid your home is? With a hygrometer. Similar to a thermometer, a hygrometer is a tool that measures humidity in the surrounding environment. There’s a bunch of different styles available including digital and analog types. You should be able to find one at a hardware store or nursery.
Symptoms of House Plants Suffering from Dry Air
Its possible you might not be aware that your plants are suffering from dry air! Or maybe they’re showing symptoms that you didn’t realised were caused by low humidity.
Leaves with dry, browning tips can often be caused by dry air. Often this is mistaken for the plant needing water, but if your watering is fine then it could be the humidity troubling your plant.
Some plants can end up with crinkly or deformed leaves, especially if there was low humidity while these leaves were forming. An example of a plant that is affected in this way is the Fiddle Leaf Fig. If your Fiddle Leaf Fig has leaves with similar conditions to the one below, it’s most likely from not enough humidity!
While it’s best to try to replicate a plant’s natural environment, some plants can adapt to lower humidity levels than what they’d like.
Even if you don’t see any symptoms, it’s still a good idea to try increasing the humidity levels. You may notice plants such as tropicals will grow quicker, larger and with brighter leaves.
Misting: Does it Increase Humidity?
Misting is one of the most well-known methods done by houseplant owners to increase humidity. However – it’s not all its cracked up to be! Here’s why:
- When you mist plants, it only adds water into the air for the few minutes that you can see ‘mist’. Even if you mist your plants three times a day, that a total increased humidity for max 15 minutes of the day. That works out to be 1% of the day – what about 99% of the time? There’s a lot more efficient and hands-off ways to increase humidity for indoor plants, which I’ll talk about below.
- Another thing to consider with misting is that you’re actually wetting the plants leaves directly. For most plants, when they sense rain they will close off the parts of their leaves that respond to photosynthesis while it’s raining. This may happen for an hour or more.
So when you mist your plant, you’re essentially stopping them from photosynthesising for possibly an hour each time! This is detrimental for house plants, who essentially need all the light they can get being indoors.
- Constantly trying to mist your plants and having their leaves wet can also cause bacterial issues in certain plants, such as Fiddle Leaf Figs.
How to Increase Humidity for Indoor Plants
Pebble Tray (also called Humidity Tray)
Pebble trays can be placed under or around plants. Fill a shallow tray with pebble and cover with an inch or so of water. The pebbles shouldn’t be fully underwater. As the water from the pebbles evaporates, it increases the humidity in the immediate surroundings.
Remember if you place pots on top of a pebble tray, that the water shouldn’t be touching the base of the plant. This would enable to soil to soak up the water, and most plants don’t like to be constantly wet.
Group Plants Together
All plants carry out a process called transpiration. This is where water vapour is released through a plant’s leaves. By grouping your plants close together, they can each benefit from this process by creating a little humid microclimate.
This works well if you have multiple plants with high humidity needs, such as tropicals. Plants that don’t need high humidity, such as succulents, can be placed elsewhere.
Buy a humidifier
It’s not uncommon for people to buy humidifiers to keep their plants healthy. Humidifiers work best if you can run them in one room with your plants, rather than trying to humidify too much space with one machine.
There are two types of humidifiers: warm mist and cool mist. While most tropical plants would prefer warm mist, cool mist still works well. Many people opt for a cool mist humidifier as warm mist can end up causing damage to walls and paint.
Make sure your humidifier isn’t blowing directly on any plants, just nearby.
Vases of Water
Having vases or vessels of water nearby, such as a pot of flowers can help increase the humidity in a room. It makes a great excuse to buy some fresh flowers or simply place a few containers of water (small or large) around your plants.
If you have some seashells lying around, they can also be used to help with humidity! Place them around the soil of a plant. When you water the plant, some water will ‘catch’ in the dips on the shells, which will end up evaporating over time.
Leave Washing to Dry in Room
This is one domestic method I’ve heard of that can actually increase humidity by up to 10%! Hanging washing to dry on clothes racks inside allows the moisture to evaporate but stay in the room, increasing the humidity. Seeing as we all need to do washing, its a great ecological method to help your plants stay healthy.
Cloche or Terrarium Style Environment
I’m sure you’ve seen and know how terrariums work. They’re generally a sealed glass container that doesn’t need any attention. This is because they create their own microclimate, where water evaporates and but stays in the terrarium, allowing the plants to be watered without having to do it yourself.
Similarly, a something like a glass cloche placed over a plant will trap any moisture lost through transpiration, upping the humidity for the plant. It’s often also done for unhealthy or young plants and cuttings that need a little extra care to get them growing.
So there you have a bunch of ways to create humidity for indoor plants! Some might suit different plants (or homes) more than others, which is totally fine. Anything you can do to help increase humidity will be beneficial! You may also like to try out a few different methods to see what works best.
Which method will you try? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!