I had no idea how much humidity mattered until I started getting more into house plants. If you’d have asked me how high the humidity was in my home, I would have had no idea. Like, I couldn’t even give you a ballpark.
The first piece of advice I can give you is to invest the ten or so pounds in a hygrometer. There’s no point trying to control the level of humidity in your home without first knowing roughly what your home’s natural humidity level is.
This is also important because humidity levels fluctuate according to a variety of factors, from the season, to the type of heating you have, the number of plants, and the number of people in the room.
Get a hygrometer before trying any of the methods below. You may not even need to increase the humidity of your home. My living room sits at a balmy 63% humidity, so a humidifier would be a bit of a waste of my money.
The hygrometer I use is linked in my resources page. As I mentioned, it’s cheap, and you can pick it up from Amazon.
Apparently the average home has a humidity level of 30%, and even desert plants like cacti like humidity to be 40%+. Sheesh.
Why do plants need humidity?
Most house plants come from the rainforest, so they need the humidity to replicate the conditions. The humidity allows them to keep the moisture levels in their leaves more constant – if the air is too dry their leaves lose too much moisture through their stomata which can’t always be easily replaced.
The plant can also absorb water through its roots, but plants may choose to drop a leaf if it needs that water for other processes.
What affects how much humidity a plant requires?
In general, plants with thin, delicate leaves, such as Calathea need higher humidity than those with waxy leaves, because waxy leaves can store more water in their leaves.
Example are plants like hoya and ZZ plants.
Also, the more humid the plant’s natural environment, the more humidity you plant will required.
I tried to find out whether variegated plants require higher humidity than their green counterparts, but I couldn’t find any evidence to support this.
What I will say is that variegated plants tend to require the same care, but they’re less forgiving if that care is suboptimal.
So if your variegated monstera needs 60% humidity, it’s probably more like to get crispy tips than a green one.
1. Invest in a humidifier
If your humidity is low and you want to keep plants that require a high level of humidity, get a humidifier. The one I recommend is on my resources page.
The rest of this list is how to fractionally raise humidity, and is suitable for people that have decent humidity, but might need a little boost, or people that have plants that might a appreciate a little extra humidity, but don’t absolutely require it – plants like Monstera Deliciosa and aglaonema.
Remember that most of our plants come from the rainforest, and rainforests are typically running at about 80-90% humidity depending on the season.
2. Mist your plants
I have to mention this because it’s definitely A Thing. Misting to increase humidity is mentioned by pretty much every home decor website going.
Misting doesn’t increase humidity for more than about five minutes. It does help remove dust, especially if you follow up with a quick wipe.
Add a bit of dish soap and neem oil to your misting bottle and you’re helping prevent pests on your plants, so well done you.
Do be careful – some plants don’t like to get wet leaves. If in doubt, don’t mist, but just think about where the plant comes from and whether it would naturally get wet leaves. African violets, cacti, and a lot of succulents. Any plant with fuzzy leaves probably won’t appreciate you misting it.
3. Put your plants on a pebble tray
This is more effective than misting, simply because it’s more permanent, but will likely only raise your humidity. I can’t find any actual figures on how much a pebble tray can increase humidity by, but I imagine it can’t be by more than about 5%.
Bear in mind that a pebble tray will be more effective in warmer temperatures since the water will evaporate more quickly.
Creating a pebble tray is easy. Find a shallow bowl or saucer, put a layer of pebbles in it and fill with water. Put your plant on top. The point of the pebbles is to ensure that your plant isn’t sitting in water.
4. Keep the doors closed
This is an obvious one, but it makes a massive difference, especially if you only have a small humidifier, or are relying on non-humidifier methods.
Keep all your plants in either your warmest or smallest room (hopefully the smallest is the warmest) and keep the door closed. Any humidity present will be more concentrated.
5. Air dry your laundry
When I dry my clothes in my office, I can raise the humidity by about 10%. I don’t keep humidity loving plants in this room because it’s the dryest in the house, but also the warmest, so it’s home to plants that like the warm but aren’t fussy about humidity, like hoya.
There are a few philodendron and aglaonema in here though, and they love a little bit more humidity every so often. The room is usually about 47% humidity but can hit 60% if I have a lot of washing.
This is an underestimated hack, especially if you have a lot of laundry!
6. Keep your dryer vent inside/ leave the dishwasher door open after the rinse cycle
I don’t have either of these appliances, but I can see how they could increase humidity. I perhaps wouldn’t try the dryer one in my home because I’d be worried about causing damp, but the extra steam from the dishwasher would be appreciated.
I don’t know if leaving the dishwasher open after the rinse cycle is even an option on UK dishwashers (it could be, as I say, I don’t actually have one), but I’d worry about it wasting energy. Still, open it as soon as it finishes and you’ll still get plenty of water vapour.
7. Boil the kettle or cook a lot
This basically is the same as ‘keep your plants in the kitchen’, and it works. Especially here in England where we drink a lot of tea. No, it isn’t a stereotype.
8. Leave the bathroom and kitchen doors open
Fairly self explanatory, but also contradicting one of the previous posts. As I said before, houses vary a lot when it comes to ambient humidity, so you need to do what’s best for you.
I can’t leave the bathroom door open, because my bathroom is damp as hell, so I like to leave the window open. It’s too cold in the winter to have plants in, but in summer I like to put my pothos in there. It really boosts their growth.
9. Group your plants together
Plants produce water vapour by transpiration, so when you group them together they create their own little microclimate. This works even better if you can put them in a small, warm room.