Humidity in the Winter: 5 Tips for Happy Plants
Winter is fast approaching. For many of us in northern parts of America, this means dry air will soon become problematic. Sore throats, raspy coughs, and chapped lips caused by low humidity levels are among a few symptoms we have to look forward to. As the colder weather arrives, we turn on our heating systems which blow out hot, dry air further lowering indoor humidity. While we battle these ailments, we tend to overlook the fact that our indoor plants are very much experiencing the same thing. When moisture in the air drops, plant leaves begin to curl and droop. Edges become brown and discolored. Many plants prefer 60-80% humidity, while the average humidity of an indoor atmosphere will hover around 20-40%. What can we do to make our plants more comfortable?
1. Know how much humidity your specific plants need to thrive. A rule of thumb is, the thinner the leaf, the greater its need for humidity. Plants with thick leaves, such as succulents, are typically immune to dry air.
2. Group your humidity seeking plants together. Through a process called transpiration, plants release moisture through their leaves. By placing your plants within close proximity of one another, you create more humidity in the immediate area, which is beneficial for growth. However, it’s important to note that you should not include plants with low humidity requirements in this grouping.
3. Use a humidifier. Now I don’t expect you to buy a humidifier for each and every account. That would be terribly expensive. I recommend making your own plant “humidifier.” Simply insert a deep plant saucer into the bottom of your planter, fill it with at least an inch of small, pebble-like stones, pour in water until it is just below the stones’ surface, and place your potted plant onto the surface. Humidity will increase as the water evaporates. Be sure that your plant is not sitting directly in the water, as this will encourage root rot. To prevent an insect breeding ground, don’t forget to empty and rinse your saucer when you flush your plant.
4. Use a spray bottle to mist your plants. This is the most popular method to raise humidity levels. Unfortunately, due to dissipation, it is a very short-term fix many times requiring several mistings throughout the day. If you choose the misting option, it is suggested that you use soft water. This helps prevent calcium deposits from building up on the plant’s leaves. When misting, it is important to remember that there are some plants that should never be misted as it can promote disease.
5. Consider a terrarium. You will occasionally run into plants that require over 70% humidity. This level is extremely hard to achieve in large, open office settings. Growing these plants in a terrarium may be your best solution.
Which approach are you taking to keep your plants healthy and happy?
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