Oct 2, 2010

Raising Plant Humidity

"How do I love thee, let me count the ways!"
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

There are many ways to 'lovingly' and effectively raise plant humidity. Some plants thrive in a humid environment more suited to a greenhouse or jungle than your home. But don’t worry, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your plants have a higher humidity level !


1 – Place your plant on a humidity tray with rocks or pebbles, and fill the tray with slightly warm water, or room temp – but NEVER hot! Make sure the plant sits on top of the pebbles in the tray, but not submerged in water. This can cause the roots to become too wet, and will lead to root rot. Change the water every few days.

2 – Use a humidifier in the room(s) where you keep plants. You can raise humidity this way by leaving the humidifier going while you’re at work, or whenever. Your plants will surely love the benefits.

3 – Mist your plants daily, sometimes even twice a day (depending on the plant), especially in winter when conditions are naturally drier. The misting helps plants to absorb moisture through their leaves, and also serves another purpose: the leaves of some plants get a bit dusty, and misting them will help keep them looking good. Remember: A lot of house pants are tropical in origin, and will benefit from a moist, rain forest type atmosphere! Try to duplicate a plant’s original environment the best you can using humidity.

4 – Misting also helps prevent spider mites from attacking your houseplants. Specific plants, such as English Ivy or Majesty Palm, are particularly susceptible to spider mite attack. Spider mites are tiny, red insects that spin webs on your plants and damage them by discoloring the leaves, scorching them, or causing individual leaves to die. An infestation of spider mites can even lead to plant death! They only attack in very dry environments, so if you mist regularly and raise humidity, they will most likely not bother your plants.

5 – Group several plants together on a table or other surface. I can best explain this by relating a true-to-life situation: Think about what happens when you walk into a room filled with several people – say, like six or more. You spend some time in the room, realizing there’s no fresh air filtering in, there’s no breeze, and you start getting a bit hot. You realize that body heat is to blame! The ambient temperature has definitely gone up, due to humans giving off heat.

Okay, so a lot of people = a rise in room temperature. Similarly, a lot of plants = a rise in humidity

Plants don’t really have a temperature, but they do absorb moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. They also give off oxygen (good for us!) and lose water through their leaves, so other plants nearby can benefit from this natural evaporation coming from another plant. So, if you group them close together (within a foot of each other) you automatically raise the ambient humidity around your plants.

6 – Grow your plants in a terrarium or other enclosure, such as a fish tank. Each of these items function much in the same manner: They trap moisture around your plants, raising their humidity level. This also means you won’t have to water the plants as much. And also, terrariums make a great way to display your plants!

7 – Place your plants outside during rainstorms. Plants that benefit from the occasional shower will love a bit of rain! Plants that love humidity include: ivy, palms, ferns, and many others.

8 – Place plants in rooms such as the bathroom or your kitchen: these rooms are naturally moist, since features include sinks, toilets, baths and showers – all of these in close proximity to plants help increase humidity! A hot shower can be excellent for plants in the room, so be sure to keep the door closed and build up the steam!

Just be sure to never put your plants INTO a scalding hot shower. When rinsing plants, stick with slightly warm water, so as not to damage tender roots.

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