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Yes, most (if not all) Philodendrons love higher humidity, though a lot of the ones that are commonly found in garden centres are pretty happy in ambient room humidity which ON AVERAGE (homes may vary) about 40%.
That being said there are a few that like it a smidge higher, and you typically get faster growth if you up the humidity.
Now, there is a wee bit of an issue with Philodendrons as a genus, and that’s that we don’t really know that much about them.
Despite Philodendron being one of the biggest genuses with the soil (second only to anthurium), they remain pretty unresearched. This is just a little note I’ve put in just in case we discover a Philodendron that require -30% humidity to survive. One is covering one’s arse. Negative humidity is not a thing.
Do Philodendrons do well in humidity?
They do. Humidity is the secret to really fast, large growth in Philodendrons. Not only does it help the leaves to grow really well, but high humidity can also convince the plant to grow from multiple growth points, resulting in a bushier plant.
High humidity will also supercharge aerial roots, and cause them to grow super furry, which enables them to grip surfaces easily.
Look at the aerial roots on this heartleaf Philodendron:
Philodendron aerial roots tend to shrivel up immediately if humidity is at normal levels, but whack it up to 80%+ and you’ll get these furry devils.
I accomplished this in a terrarium. 80% humidity is not a fun environment to live in.
Do Philodendrons like to be misted?
Because misting doesn’t increase humidity, it just gets the leaves wet, which can interfere with photosynthesis.
There are plenty of Philodendron which don’t really have an issue with being misted. I have a Philodendron golden dragon named Smaug, and he has really thick leaves and if you mist him, he really doesn’t care.
Philodendrons with velvet leaves, such as Melanochrysum and Gloriosum don’t like getting their leaves wet, so don’t mist them, but they do like their humidity to be above 60%.
Which Philodendrons tolerate low humidity?
The thicker the leaves, the more they can tolerate lower humidity, plus the heartleaf ones are pretty chill in loads of different conditions.
Some examples of Philodendron that don’t mind lower humidity are:
- Philodendron scandens
- Philodendron micans
- Philodendron birkin
- Philodendron burle marx
- Philodendron hastatum
By ‘lower humidity’ I still mean 40-50% humidity. These plants hail from tropical rainforests and will struggle to develop properly in lower humidity.
Which Philodendrons won’t tolerate low humidity?
Philodendron are pretty adaptable plants and most can learn to live (albeit not thrive) in around 50% humidity.
However, there are some that will continually run into problems if you don’t give them 60% humidity or more.
It does actually vary from specimen to specimen because plants vary depending on where they came from. A lot of house plants now come from tissue culture, so different labs produce the same plant with different traits by picking parents with the traits they like, and cloning the offspring.
One might produce a gloriosum with very white veining, and another might produce one that has slightly thicker leaves, so it will do better in low humidity.
In my experience, Philodendron verrucosum prefers higher humidity, and whilst keeping it lower humidity won’t result in poor growth, it will make them VERY susceptible to thrips and spider mites.
A lot of Philodendrons developed for the house plant market are bred to be a little hardier and tolerate lower humidity than they would in the wild. Therefore, it can be generally assumed that more common house plants are happier in lower humidity than rarer ones.
In general, velvet-leaved Philodendron like higher humidity, but Philodendron micans have been selectively bred over the years to tolerate drier air.
How high is too high when it comes to humidity?
Plants living in the tropical rainforest will often experience 100% humidity, so it stands to reason that they’re fine with that in the home too.
And technically it’s true. Can you feel an all-caps ‘however’ brewing?
100% humidity will very quickly cause rot if you don’t have adequate airflow. We have a fan on our terrarium that runs about four times a day to remove that stagnant air. Lack of airflow in 100% humidity is a great breeding ground for kinds of bacteria and fungi that will infest your plants.
100% humidity is also not ideal if you don’t have warm temperatures, because the plants won’t have the energy to grow but all the bacterial will.
You don’t need a fan for air flow – you can open a window, or drill holes in a terrarium (or take the lid off for a few minutes every day).
What are the signs that humidity is too low?
I don’t like questions like this because the answers (crispy leaves, slow growth) could also be attributed to other issues.
I will list them here though, if you’re interested:
- Crispy leaf tips
- Crispy leaf edges
- Slow growth
- Leaves getting stuck when they emerge
- Curled leaves
Each one of those symptoms can be caused by something other than low humidity, so don’t assume you’ll find the answers with them.
Rather than looking to your plants to tell you whether or not your humidity is too low, get yourself a hygrometer. They’re usually under a tenner on Amazon and they’ll tell you exactly what your humidity (and usually temperature) is.
How to increase the humidity in your home
I have some DIY options in this article, such as keeping windows closed when you’re cooking, opening the door when you shower, and drying your laundry near your plants, but if you’re serious about providing your plants with the appropriate humidity, you really need either a terrarium (if you can get one big enough) or a humidifier.
Humidity is one of those factors to house plant care that isn’t really talked about outside of house plant circles, so many people underestimate it’s importance.
Now, it’s common for people to notice things like crispy leaves and think that that is a fair price to pay for not having a humidifier.
That’s ok, you do you BUT there are SO MANY benefits to providing decent humidity to your philodendron beyond cosmetic.
I’ve already mentioned things like:
- faster growth
- multiple growth points
But you also have shorter internodal spacing so your plant looks bushier, and most importantly, a healthier plant. Healthy plants are desirable for obvious reasons, but one not quite so obvious reason you want a healthy plant is that they are REALLY GOOD at not getting pests.
Pests don’t want to eat a healthy plant – they can produce chemicals and stuff that bugs don’t really like. They’d prefer a healthy one, so you’re less likely to get an infestation.*
*This is also why when buying plants from the bargain bin you should:
a) Inspect them closely before you buy and
b) quarantine them for a few weeks.
If you’re STILL on the fence about getting a humidifier then also consider that they can be beneficial to humans too, especially for when we’re sleeping.
If your humidity is around 40/50% then you can just pick Philodendrons that are happy to live in those conditions, but if it’s substantially lower, you might be best off getting a humidifier for your own health as much as your plants’.