Are the tips of your indoor plants turning brown? Are the leaf margins becoming dry? If so, your plants may be suffering from poor humidity levels.
From the Tropics
Many of the plants that are ideal for growing indoors come from tropical regions. These plants enjoy a consistent indoor temperature between 68 and 70 degrees. They can also handle low light conditions because of their natural position on the forest floor.
However, one of their natural adaptations can make them difficult to grow indoors. The same forest floors that offer protection from bright light are also very humid. This humidity is hard to replicate inside.
Average Relative Humidity
According to About.com Houseplants, most indoor plants require humidity between fifty and eighty percent to thrive. The average humidity inside most buildings is only around twenty percent. Humidity levels are especially difficult to control when buildings use a central heating or cooling system.
Tips for Improvement
There are a few ways that you can raise the relative humidity around indoor plants.
SFGate Home Guides suggests grouping plants together. Plants give off water as part of their natural processes. Therefore, the area around a plant is slightly higher in humidity. The more plants you group together, the greater the humidity increasing effect will be.
Mist your plants. Adding water directly to the leaves of many tropical plants can help them cope with low humidity. This is only practical if you can devote time to misting the plants every few days. About.com Houseplants also warns that some plants, especially those with hairy leaves such as African violets, should never be misted. These plants are susceptible to disease when their leaves are wet.
Another common solution is to fill a tray will pebbles or decorative rocks. Then add a few inches of water to the bottom. Place the trays just beside or directly under the plants. As the water evaporates it will increase the humidity near the plant. Take care not to set a plant directly in the water. This will prevent drainage and soggy soil could cause root rot. Also remember that as the water evaporates you will need to refill it. If you are creative, these trays can add to the decor.
Better Homes and Gardens suggests placing a smaller pot within a larger pot. Fill the space between the two pots with sphagnum moss. Then keep the sphagnum moss moist. This will help keep moisture in the air near the plant.
Keep in mind that placement is also significant. Don’t place plants near vents or drafts where constantly blowing air will keep humidity levels low. Consider placing very sensitive plants in naturally humid places such as kitchens and bathrooms. If everything else fails, you can always place a humidifier near the plants. Remember that higher humidity is good for both people and plants.
If you simply cannot increase the humidity levels near plants, consider using plants adapted to drier climates. Succulents such as cacti are great alternatives for indoor arrangements when the air is too dry.
How have you kept your indoor plants humid enough to thrive? What other challenges do you face when decorating with indoor plants?