From the Desk of Ed Hume: Humidity for Houseplants

November 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM 2 comments

In recent weeks we have been chatting about growing houseplants in the home.  So today, let’s discuss one of the major problems you can experience at this time of the year: providing adequate humidity for your houseplants.

Of course, this whole problem comes about because as the weather get colder outside, we jack up the temperatures inside and the air becomes hot and dry.  Not good for houseplants, and really not very good for us either.  So how do we provide humidity for our houseplants?

Often I hear the recommendation that one should mist their houseplant leaves with water once a week.  Then I hear someone else say twice a week, then another once or even twice a day.  That’s a bunch of garbage, unless you’re happy with becoming a slave to your plants.  Here are a couple of my recommendations:

1) Place a glass or decorative vase of water near your houseplants.  As the water evaporates, it provides the humidity your plants need.  You can simply hide the container of water behind the plants and you’ll hardly see it.  If it’s a fancy decorative vase, you may even want to display it out front where it can be admired for its beauty.  After all, who other than you will know it’s there to provide humidity for nearby houseplants?  Refill and change the water in the container every few weeks.  Isn’t that loads easier than misting it twice a day?

2) Another option is to place your plant on an “island of humidity.”  You can do this by simply taking a water-proof tray or saucer, filling it with gravel or small decorative stones, then adding water almost to the top of the gravel/stones.  Once the water is at the proper height, place your houseplant on the stones.  Thus, you provide an ocean of humidity around your plant.  Again, this solution offers no muss, no fuss, yet solves the humidity problem.  As a matter of fact, this method is as old as the hills, one your grandma or her grandma would have used to provide humidity for houseplants.  In the days of wood stoves, women often would even put a kettle of water on the stove to help provide humidity for both humans and houseplants.  It just goes to show you:  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

It is often recommended that houseplants be placed fairly close together in the home so they create their own environment.  This isn’t a bad idea, especially during the winter when the air tends to be so dry inside.

One really difficult group to treat for humidity is plants that are placed on high shelves or in indoor hanging baskets.  Of course, that’s because the air becomes hotter and drier the higher in the room you go.  However, I have a solution for those areas too!  If it’s a hanging basket, simply bury a small glass along the edge of the basket (for example, a small mason jar or personal-sized jam jar).  Don’t forget to keep it filled with water.  And remember: it has nothing to do with watering.  It’s there only to provide humidity, so you will have to continue watering as normal.

It’s always good to keep in mind that most houseplants are tropical, so they are accustomed to humid conditions, and those are the conditions in which they thrive.


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Podcast Mondays: Caring for Houseplants Clip of the Week: Caring for Houseplants

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gardening  |  November 25, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    Informative article. I was worried about the health of my plants in such conditions.

    • 2. edhume  |  November 25, 2009 at 10:27 PM

      Sounds like perfect timing! We’re so glad we could preemptively answer your question : )


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