Certain plants crave humidity. They need dampness not just to live but to thrive. Moisture in the air keeps the foliage looking fresh and healthy. Brown, crispy edges are a sure sign that your plant is drying out, and it’s disappointing to see a houseplant failing. Low humidity is an easy fix. You cannot reverse dried-out foliage, but you can prevent it from continuing to happen. Learn more about how to spot the signs of dry air and how to increase humidity for houseplants to keep your pants lush and thriving.
Symptoms of Dry Air
Plants tell you what they need, and it’s easy to spot the signs of a plant that is not getting enough humidity. The edges of the leaves will turn brown and eventually die. A slight yellow band may appear between the healthy part of the leaf and the dead, brown edge. If left unchecked, the dead growth will continue to creep across the leaf.
The most likely plants to have humidity issues are ferns and calatheas, also known as prayer plants. Most houseplants are tropical and like some extra humidity, so even pothos and philodendrons can have trouble if grown in a dry environment.
Dry, damaged foliage should be removed. Remove the dry part using clean shears if less than half of the leaf is damaged. The entire leaf should be removed if more than half is turning yellow or brown. Cut the stem back as far as possible without preventing future growth. Once you have removed dead growth, you need to go about increasing the humidity in your home so this doesn’t happen again.
Ways to Increase Humidity for Houseplants
If the problem is low humidity, then the easy solution is to increase the dampness in the air. By increasing the moisture, the plant will stay healthy and vibrant. Humidifiers and pebble trays with water are your options to increase moisture in your home.
Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and the right choice depends on how dry the air in your home is and how many plants need a boost of moisture.
A small tabletop humidifier can produce enough moisture to support a couple of small plants. A bigger floor unit may be a better choice for a larger collection of plants or bigger plants. Position plants near the humidifier to give them the most moisture possible.
Covering the plants can help hold the moisture in and allow the foliage to get more dampness or just allow you to run the humidifier less often. A glass terrarium or cover will hold the dampness while still allowing sunlight to pass through. A terrarium is a good choice for small plants and creates an interesting focal point on a tabletop.
A pebble tray is a DIY approach to increase moisture in the air. Add pebbles or stones to a dish or tray, set the potted plant on the stones, and fill the tray with water. The stones keep the potted plant up and out of the water. Keeping the plant out of the water is important if the pot has a drainage hole. Plants that prefer high humidity typically also have high water needs, but you want to control when and how much water the plant receives, so avoid bottom watering via a pebble tray.
The water in the tray will naturally evaporate and increase the moisture content in the immediate area. This happens around the plant, so the foliage is able to absorb the dampness. Top off the water as the tray is empty. Depending on the extent of the dryness in your home, you may need to fill the tray daily or weekly.
Another option is to fill a spray bottle and give the plant a few spritzes of water. This can be done as often as daily. Misting is not the most effective because it’s a short-term solution, not a permanent fix. Spraying a plant with water helps it in the immediate future, but as the water evaporates, the plant will be back in the same situation. Humidifiers and pebble trays can last for days or weeks at a time, depending on the conditions. A plant may require multiple mistings in a day to thrive, making it a time-consuming solution.
Increasing the humidity for houseplants is an effective plan, but make the most of your efforts by selecting the right area for your moisture-loving plants. Some areas of the home, like bathrooms and kitchens, are likely to have increased humidity, and they are a good natural fit.
Increased humidity is just one aspect of what a plant needs, and you also need to consider the amount of sunlight the room receives. Increased sunlight causes water to evaporate and naturally dries out a plant, but sunlight is also critical to a plant’s care. A steamy bathroom with a north-facing window is no good for a plant that needs bright indirect sunlight.
Try to position plants in an area that receives the proper amount of sunlight and has increased humidity when possible. Consider adding shelves or a hook for a hanger in order to include plants in a compact bathroom or a kitchen that is tight on space.
Try to avoid placing plants that crave humidity near exterior doors, windows, and heating vents. Drafts impact humidity and can do more harm than good.
Weather can change drastically, depending on where you live. Typically, humidity decreases in the winter. You may have the perfect spot for a Calathea during the summer, but that spot could be horrible during the winter. Rotate plants throughout your home to provide the best conditions possible. If relocating houseplants is not an option, then a humidity tray or humidifier may help you turn a less-than-ideal spot into the perfect location.
Plants that need high humidity tend to do best when grown in close proximity to other plants. Grouping together calathea and ferns creates a lovely, leafy look and gives an end table or shelf a tropical vibe, but it also helps the plants. The plants thrive off of one another and increase the moisture in the air to a degree. Grouping plants together can be enough to increase moisture and keep the foliage green and healthy.
Help Your Plants Thrive
High-humidity plants are not always easy, but they are worth the effort. Monitor your plants to make sure they are happy and thriving, and take action as soon as you see signs of distress. It is easy to maintain humidity for houseplants when you follow these tips. Sometimes using a humidifier for a couple of months or relocating plants to a different area of your home is enough to help these beauties look their best.