Humidity and your indoor plants: our 6 top tricks
Many indoor plants grow naturally in humid forests, such as rainforests, where they enjoy warm, even temperatures, high humidity and dappled light. The indoor environment can fluctuate and is often much drier and less humid than an indoor plant would enjoy back in its rainforest home. In particular, heaters and air-conditioners dry out the air indoors, reducing the natural humidity.
Signs that plants are suffering in dry indoor conditions include foliage that appears burnt, especially around its leaf edges, alongside dead leaves and poor growth. Ferns are particularly prone to leaf damage in dry conditions. Pests such as two-spotted mite (also called red spider mite) and scale tend to proliferate in dry conditions where humidity is low.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but extra water doesn’t necessarily improve this situation. In fact, overwatering can cause problems all of its own! Instead, there are several tricks you can use to create the moister, more humid conditions that most indoor plants favour inside your home.
Our top 6 humidity tricks
Find the most humid spot in the house and relocate rainforest plants and ferns to these areas. The most humid position is usually in the bathroom, but it must be very brightly lit with natural light from a skylight or windows for plants to grow successfully!
Regularly mist plants when air conditions indoors are dry, such as when the heater or air conditioner is on.
Group plants together so they can create their own more humid atmosphere.
Keep plants out of draughts caused by air-conditioners and away from heat pumped out by heaters. It may be necessary to relocate plants seasonally in response to indoor conditions.
Place fine-foliaged plants such as ferns into a terrarium, which has naturally high humidity.
Stand plant pots on a bed of stones or pebbles in a tray of water. Top up the water level regularly. As the water evaporates around the plant it creates a more humid microclimate around the plant. The layer of pebbles ensures that the plant isn’t actually standing in water, which can lead to root rot.
Where plants have been affected by dry air, prune away damaged growth and liquid feed the plant to encourage new growth. Follow one or all of the tricks above to give the plant the humid conditions it is yearning for.
It is important to realise that not all plants need humid conditions. Succulents and cactus thrive in dry conditions and may develop problems in humid or overly wet situations.