Imagine being an indoor plant. You're growing in a high humidity filled greenhouse. You leave this comfy environment and get shipped off to a new home where the air conditioner is blowing cold air and sucking up the moisture. If it's wintertime, the heater keeps the air dry and toasty. As a result, your leaves start to show browning edges and tips with yellowing leaves. Before long, you're wilting, and your foliage is getting crispier. And what are these red spider mites doing sucking the juice out of your stems? These symptoms are your way of screaming to increase humidity for the houseplants, please! Just like what your motherland gave you in the rainforest!
Most don't have the similarities of a 100% humidity rainforest in their homes, but you can achieve a simple rainforest-like substitute and increase humidity for your indoor plants. While keeping your plant's needs supplied like water, light, and temperature, humidity is another critical factor. They need it to thrive in their new environment. Many plant owners don't consider this part of the plant equation when buying indoor plants and caring for them.
Achieve Humidity Around Your Indoor Plants
First, when you have had your plant a couple of months, give it a shower. Repeat this every few weeks during your watering rituals. To do this, fill a watering can. Use room temperature rainwater, filtered water, or water out of your faucet that has set for 24 hours to allow time for chemicals to evaporate (chlorine or fluoride). Place your plant in a bathtub or shower and shower the plant (except for plants with hairy leaves like African violets). This shower not only increases the humidity but will it also knocks off any dust and residue. Let it air dry and place it back in its resting spot.
Set up a pebble tray underneath it so water can evaporate up around it, increasing the humidity levels for your indoor plant. To do this, collect a slightly larger plate than what your pot size is. So if your pot is a 6-inch, then use an 8-inch plant tray. Grab some clean pebble gravel or colorful glass fire marbles (a few handfuls will fill the dish) and pour water in it to barely cover the pebbles. Set the plant container on the stones. The stones will keep the pot from sitting in the water to maintain proper drainage but also give it that extra boost of humidity for the indoor plant. Watch the evaporation tendency and how often you need to refill the dish. It will be more often than you think!
Using a hand mister is another option you can supplement your indoor plant with too. Be careful to use filtered, rainwater, or water that has been sitting overnight to evaporate all the chemicals in the municipality water. Spritz your plant several times a day to give it that extra poof of humidity. Be extra careful around areas where the mist could land on upholstery, curtains, or wooden furniture. If this is the case, lay out a bath towel and place the plant on it, then spritz it and return it to its spot. This way, your surroundings won't get damaged, and your plant will be extra happy to have that dewy layer of moisture on its leaves.
Grouping plants together increases the humidity in the air. Just like when people get together, the room temperature rises, the same is true for your green-leafed babies. Their leaves, stems, and flowers transpire. This process gives off humidity, whereby creating humidity for the other plants in the space. They like a crowd, so to speak and the more, the merrier when it comes to increasing the humidity levels. Through this interesting process, they are helping each other's humidity increase while taking in carbon dioxide and creating the vapor transaction amidst the atmosphere and the leaf.
If you have a grouping that enjoys higher humidity levels, use a humidifier setting on a warm mist. Use filtered or distilled water to fill your humidifier. This warmth mimics its natural environment in the rainforest too! Place it around the plant grouping to increase the moisture level in the air for your indoor plants. Use a hygrometer to help you identify the humidity you have and when it's getting too low for your humidity loving indoor plants. Keep the humidity for most tropical indoor plants at 50-60% humidity. (An average home humidity level is close to 30-40%.) Just be aware of the surroundings and where the moisture will fall so as not to harm any flooring or any furniture close by. Another option is to install a whole-house humidifier. Talk to your heating and air company about installing one to your HVAC system.
Placing your indoor plants in humid areas of the house, such as well-lit bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens, is another option. The extra steam from a shower will make your plant happy, or the boiling water entering the air in a kitchen is also another humidity booster. Keeping the humidity at a consistent level may take extra moisture input like the humidifier option.
Keep your humidity loving plants away from heat sources, radiators or near radiant heated floors. Doorways, corridors, or areas that get wind or drafts can also decrease moisture around plants and cause them to suffer.
While increasing the humidity for your plants, you're also positively affecting your skin moisture, helping chapped lips, preventing bloody noses and itchy throats, dry eyes, nasal passages, and lungs. Static electricity will decrease in the winter months as you move around your house too. Subsequently, appropriate moisture levels in the air can help with asthma, allergy, and sinus problems. Of course, always talk to your doctor before starting to use a humidifier.
So, what are you waiting for? Add a little moisture to your home and make you and your plants happier and healthier?