Humidity Basics

We all know that setting up the right humidity level is an essential step of a plant care routine. But what is humidity, anyway? How do you know if you need to adjust it? Read on to find out!

Humidity is the relative concentration of water vapor in the air that you can’t touch or see with the naked eye. It’s measured on a scale between 0% (dry) to 100% (saturated). Most plants prefer growing in a 30–40% range; however, there are species that thrive in higher than average humidity (tropical plants, for example).

How can you increase humidity?

  • Purchase a humidifier. A tabletop humidifier is a life-changer. Put one somewhere near your plants and adjust the settings to create the most comfortable environment for your plant.
  • Invest in pebble trays. Fill the plant saucer with pebbles and water. Place it underneath the planter—voila, now your plant is satisfied. Don’t forget to change the water in the saucer to avoid the development of harmful fungal diseases.
  • Start grouping your plants. You can create a favorable microclimate by placing together plants with similar humidity requirements. Plants release water through small pores on the surface of their leaves, naturally increasing the humidity around them, and, consequently, other nearby plants.
  • Use domes. Place a dome over your plant to create a humid environment. Remove it for a few hours every once in a while to let your plant get some fresh air. Otherwise, your plant might start developing diseases and attracting pests.
  • Misting. You can mist your ficus or philodendron with warm, settled water in the morning, but this is a temporary fix that’ll only last until the water vaporizes, and humidity goes back to normal.
  • Practice double potting. Place a pot in a planter that is 2 to 3 inches (4 to 6 cm) bigger. Fill the free space with damp sphagnum moss. When it dries out, just add some water again.
  • Create a terrarium. This will help you maintain the necessary level of humidity. But be mindful that terrariums and bottle gardens work best for plants that thrive in high humidity.

How can you lower your indoor relative humidity?

  • Use a dehumidifier. If your indoor humidity is 65% and higher, and you don’t have tropical plants, you should get a portable dehumidifier.
  • Grow plants that absorb humidity. There are several species of plants that reduce moisture in the air, for example, Boston ferns. Apart from lowering humidity, they also remove carbon dioxide from the air.
  • Remove your carpet. Turns out carpets are more than just pretty decor elements. They have the ability to retain moisture, significantly contributing to your indoor humidity. If other methods of dehumidifying don’t work, consider moving your carpet to another room or getting rid of it altogether.

Here’s how you can tell if your plant is experiencing problems with humidity

If it’s too low, your plant will

  • Shrivel
  • Scorch
  • Wilt
  • Brown and crisp at the tips

If it’s too high, it will

  • Develop a fungal infection
  • Mold
  • Turn yellow

If you’ve read this article to this point—well done! Now that you’re well-versed in the world of humidity, you can easily navigate through your plant caring journey!

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