Sunlight and water are the main things people think about when caring for houseplants. Light and water are necessary for a plant’s survival, but humidity is also vital. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air, and while some houseplants are adaptable, some require increased humidity to live and thrive. Learn more about the impact of humidity on houseplants, signs of houseplants suffering from dry air, and how to increase the humidity in your home.
How to Measure Humidity
Humidity is measured as a percentage using a device known as a hygrometer. Most thermostats will also measure the air moisture in a home, but the measurement is taken at the thermostat’s location. The humidity reading may be different throughout a house.
Humidity readings of 50% are average. Anything under 50% is low, while measurements above 50% indicate increased humidity. Humidity differs based on the climate, and it fluctuates.
Know Your Houseplant
Understanding more about the native habitat of a houseplant can help guide you to its humidity needs. Plants from arid desert climates, like cacti and aloe plants, prefer low humidity. Houseplants from tropical rainforests, like Prayer Plants and Monsteras, need increased humidity. Research your specific plant to know how much air moisture it needs to thrive.
Signs of Low Humidity
Houseplants let you know if the humidity is too low. Plants struggling in low humidity will often have:
- Limp or drooping stems
- Curling foliage
- Dry and brown foliage, particularly forming along the edges
Symptoms of low humidity can also look like signs of underwatering, so double-check the soil and water if necessary. Consider the entire environment and the care provided when diagnosing dried-out foliage.
A plant is very dry when it shows damage from low humidity, so the problem is advanced. Trim dry foliage and address the humidity as soon as you notice symptoms of dry air. Routinely check the humidity readings and take steps to increase the air moisture before the plant is wilting or stressed. Remember that humidity changes throughout the year. The humidity may be suitable during the summer but too dry during the winter, so it may only be necessary to increase the moisture in the air for part of the year.
Tips to Increase Humidity
Dry air damages houseplants that crave moist air, but it is a fixable issue. You can turn things around if your plants are showing signs of low humidity.
The easiest way to increase humidity for houseplants is to group plants nearby. Houseplants naturally create humidity, so placing several plants together can give the immediate area a slight boost in dampness. Placing a few plants on an end table or a mantle creates a stylish, curated look. Grouping plants is a good solution when the air is slightly dry or if you have plants that have moderate humidity needs, like Pothos or Philodendrons.
Some rooms are naturally more humid than others, like kitchens and bathrooms. Cooking and steamy showers generate humidity, which can be helpful for houseplants with increased moisture needs. Place humidity-loving plants in a naturally damp room, but also consider the available sunlight or use a grow light to ensure the plant receives the light and humidity it needs. Moving a houseplant to a naturally humid location is effective when the air is moderately too dry.
Add Moisture to the Air
When the air is too dry for the plants to survive, you must increase the humidity using a pebble tray or a humidifier. A pebble tray is a plate or dish filled with a layer of stones or pebbles and topped off with water. The stones elevate the plant pot and prevent the potting mix from absorbing water through the drainage holes, which can lead to root rot. Set the houseplant on the stones; as the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity in the immediate area.
A humidifier is another solution that adds moisture to the air. Humidifiers are available in different sizes, so choose a model that fits your space. Most humidifiers spray mist straight up into the air; position the device so it is unobstructed. Remember to fill the reservoir as it empties so your plants will constantly have the dampness they need.
Plant Care Made Simple
Caring for houseplants is rewarding, but it shouldn’t be complicated. Understanding the humidity needs of your plant allows you to provide the right environment so your houseplant will thrive. Know the signs of low humidity and be ready to increase the moisture if your houseplant declines.