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Humidity is essential for a plant to function and continue to grow. With low humidity, The overall health of a plant can suffer. If your plant is struggling, it’s not pushing out new growth, new growth is getting stuck and deformed, it has crispy tips, and constantly gets pests…all of these are signs of a plant suffering in a low humidity environment.
What Is Humidity?
Humidity, specifically ambient humidity is the percentage of water molecules floating around in the air around yourself and your plants in a contained environment. The average human needs an average of 30% humidity to have healthy skin. Plants need anywhere from 30% to about 70%. Some prefer a little higher while others prefer lower..this is just an average.
Humidity in a space can range from 0% -100%. It would be very difficult to breathe in 100% humidity for a human and most plants do not want that either. It can reach that I. Various greenhouses if tightly sealed can get this high and cause issues so it is recommended you use a hydrometer to measure the amount of humidity in the air so you can increase or decrease it as needed.
Why Do Plants Need Humidity?
Plants need humidity because it helps regulate all their functions. Plants have little tiny pores in their foliage and on their stems called stomata.
They “breathe” through these stomata as well as absorb micronutrients in the microscopic drops of water. Plants do not just absorb their nutrients through their roots. They do it through the natural humidity as well. Sunlight is the true plant food that runs everything but in order to have a completely healthy plant they need to consume those micronutrients too.
When humidity is too low the stomata can actually close up. This is similar to a stuffy nose in the sense that a plant will be unhealthy and unable to properly function, “breath”, or absorb those micronutrients.
These are of course very basic terms and there are much more scientific ways to explain the processes happening.
Essentially if your plant is lacking in humidity its foliage will feel limp. It’s not going to be able to sustain itself. It will have crispy tips, deformed or stuck growth, and in extreme cases, the new growth will die off continuously. Proper humidity is crucial to a plant’s health.
How To Make Humidity:
There are lots of different ways we can make humidity. The biggest and most efficient way is by using a humidifier.
A humidifier is a device that you put water into and it then evaporates the water releasing it into your home or room; thus raising the ambient humidity. If you are planning on getting one of these humidifiers you will need to make sure you are getting one that will work in your size room. Some humidifiers are only good for a 200sq ft area while others can do 1000sq ft or more. There are large capacity humidifiers out there that can do an entire large room or even home but generally the larger. More open the space the more difficult it is to contain that humidity and raise the ambient humidity levels.
Another method to raise humidity is to get more plants and clump them together. Plants transpire through their stomata. Make their own humidity bubbles around themselves so when you clump a lot of plants together; they can use their foliage to contain that humidity from each other; create a much larger humidity bubble around all of them.
This does have a pro and a con though. Pro is that the humidifier or other measures taken will have less work to do to achieve that specific humidifier goal. Con is that when your plants are this close together to share the humidity, they can all share pests as well. So staying on top of your pest prevention methods is a necessity for this method. Lower humidity does make plants more susceptible to pests so be sure to check before putting them close together.
The next way to raise ambient humidity is to limit the area the humidity has to be in. Instead of trying to raise the humidity of an entire room consider using a cloche, a jar, or a fish tank to trap the humidity in a much smaller location around your plant.
Terrariums are a perfect example of this. It traps the ambient humidity and the plants absorb and put out their own humidity so it creates a humidity cycle in there.
Using this same concept but on a larger scale, a lot of plant parents prefer to use a greenhouse(either indoor or outdoor), grow tents, or sealed cabinets to contain and raise the ambient humidity around their plants.
As previously mentioned some of these methods can raise the humidty too much depending on the plant. We recommend using a hydrometer, especially in the greenhouses to prevent issues.
Sometimes the natural ambient humidity is high enough already that you can just place the plants on a tray of pebbles and the minimal humidity increase would be enough.
This is another reason why it is important to measure your humidity; research your plants to see what is truly needed and what methods would work best.
Plants That Like High Humidity
There are plants that prefer a lower humidity and would benefit from being removed from a naturally high humidity environment. That being said there are plenty of plants that thrive in higher humidity. These plants include:
Calathea, Epipremnum Aureum (aka Golden Pothos), some Ferns, the majority of Peperomia, and the majority of Hoya.
Making humidity can be very easy and very rewarding. Unhealthy plants in good humidity can have a very quick turnaround and become healthy so much more quickly and easily. Learning what humidity your plant prefers. Using these methods to provide that can make all the difference in your plant care experience.