‘Pebble trays are great for increasing the humidity around plants during our dry winter months’
Pebble trays filled with water are often touted as being the salvation for houseplants that struggle in our desert-dry winter homes. But are pebble trays all they’re cracked up to be or are they more like a spit in the ocean of parched, prairie air?
A Bit of Science
A pebble tray is marvelously unsophisticated. It consists of nothing more than a catch tray that holds water and small pebbles. The pretty pebbles not only conceal the surface of dull plastic or clay catch trays but also prop up the pots, separating them from direct contact with standing water that could move up into the pot’s drainage holes and drown roots.
But pretty pebbles and drowning roots aside, the raison d’etre of a pebble tray is to provide a canopy of humid air around our plants, thereby preventing leaves and flowers from becoming brown and crispy.
The principle of a water-filled drip tray acting as a rudimentary plant humidifier sounds like simple science at its best. After all, water evaporates and it has to go somewhere, so a pebble tray humidifier seems like the perfect plant moisturizer. Still, I’ve talked to many people over the years — some who use them and some who don’t — and the anecdotal evidence shows no difference in plant quality between the two groups.
Now, while I haven’t lost any sleep at night thinking about the efficacy of pebble trays, curiosity finally got the best of me a few weeks ago, and I decided to put the trays to the test with a simple experiment.
When I say simple, I suspect any grade two student could easily replicate my experimental design without much trouble. I simply took a typical houseplant drip tray, filled it three-quarters full of water, dropped in some pebbles and then measured the relative humidity (relative because the warmer the temperature, the more water the air can hold) just a couple of centimetres above the pebbles. From there, I relied on a pretty sophisticated humidity sensor that I use in our greenhouses to provide the results.
And I must say, the results were interesting. While I wasn’t expecting to see a large increase in humidity from the pebble tray, I was surprised that there was barely even a slight blip on the computer screen from the time I placed the humidity sensor above the pebbles until the time the water had completely evaporated! The large volume of dry, household winter air acts like a giant sponge and absorbs any water evaporating from pebble trays. That evaporation quickly dissipates into the air, leaving little humid air for the plants.
What should you do?
As humidifiers, pebble trays don’t work well, but they are great decorative features for pots and excellent at separating roots from standing water. Grouping a large number of plants together on pebble trays may provide some additional relative humidity because of the shear numbers of plants transpiring water, but don’t expect a dramatic increase in humidity.
The real solution to avoiding brown foliage and flowers has less to do with humid air and more to do with well-functioning root systems. Plants with healthy roots can readily draw water from potting soil and distribute it throughout the plant canopy. Roots that are growing in poor-quality potting soil can easily become damaged and unable to transport water, which leads to brown foliage and flowers.
Another simple way to keep your houseplants vibrant and healthy during the winter is to use grow lights. Yes, I know what you are thinking. What do grow lights and humidity have in common? Well, light is plant food that helps to build healthy roots, foliage and flowers. We often forget just how bleak interior lighting is in the winter, thanks to our short days and low sun angle, but too little light has a greater impact on plant health than low humidity.
Now, despite the tenuous link between pebble trays and humidification, there is one feature of a pebble tray that I really like: Since it needs to be filled regularly, it forces me to check out my plants more often. And the more often I inspect my plants, the greater the odds of me checking soil moisture levels and keeping my plants properly hydrated. And if pebble trays do little to moisten the air, but remind us to water our plants, then I think they’ve done their job exceptionally well.
Recently I came to need my first bonsai humidity tray. Though I’ve been bonsai-ing for years, I’ve recently started to take operations indoors.
A humidity tray isn’t necessary per say, but most indoor bonsai would benefit from them. They slightly increase humidity levels directly around them and also catch excess water dripping from pots.
I’ll explain further.
- What does a humidity tray do?
- Why does humidity matter?
- Can’t I just increase the humidity in my house?
- Is there another way? What about misting, humidifiers, terrariums?
- What are signs that my bonsai wants more humidity?
- Where can I get a humidity tray?
- Tips for using humidity trays
- Misting Aids Plants’ Need for Moisture
- Ideal Conditions for Healthy Houseplants
- Rest and Feeding
- An indoor plant expert reveals a simple trick to keep your houseplants from dying
- Over-watering is more common than we realize
- Make your plants feel at home
- Does misting actually help?
- Raising Humidity: How To Increase Humidity For Houseplants
- Humidity for Houseplants
- How to Increase Humidity
- Humidity Houseplant Care
- 10 Great Ways To Increase Humidity For Indoor Plants
- What Are The Signs Your Plants Need Higher Humidity?
- What Is The Best Humidity Level For Plants?
- Is Too Much Humidity Bad For Plants?
- Do Houseplants Increase Humidity?
- Low Humidity Houseplants
- High Humidity Houseplants
- How To Check Indoor Humidity
- 5 Ways to Increase Home Humidity Levels
- The #1 thing to do to protect yourself and your family from too dry air
- What you should know if your home has a modern forced air heating system
- 2. Turn down the heat
- Creative & Simple Ways To Naturally Fix Too Dry Air In The House
- 4. Dry clothes on the radiator
- 5. The damp towel technique
- 6. Put water containers on radiators
- 7. Shallow trays of water in direct sunlight
- 8. Cook on the stovetop
- 9. Boil water
- 10. Use your stovetop as a humidifier
- 11. Hack your oven cooking
- 12. Use crock pots
- 13. The simple but proven sponge technique
- 14. Make a DIY humidifier
- 15. Spray your curtains
- 16. Air-dry your laundry inside
- 17. Vent your electric clothes dryer inside
- 18. Leave the bathroom door open
- 19. Use a bathroom fan
- 20. Leave water in the bath tub
- 21. Leave the dishwasher door open
- 22. Make use of potted houseplants
- 23. Vases with (or without) flowers
- 24. Simply a spray bottle
- 25. Build an indoor water feature
- 26. Indoor fountains
- 27. Vaporizers
- When natural ways t don’t work
- 28. Getting a huge humidifier
- How to measure humidity
- Why dry indoor air is your invisible enemy
- Are you safe from icky dry air lurking in your house?
- 6 Ways To Add Moisture To The Air Without A Humidifier
What does a humidity tray do?
A humidity tray is a shallow dish of pebbles and water that a bonsai tree sits on top of. The water level in the dish is kept below the level of the pot so that the roots of the plant are not sitting in water at any time. The feet or base of the pot shouldn’t touch the water level either. Water can wick up through the base of the pot keeping it perpetually wet.
When the water in the tray evaporates, it increases the humidity of the area immediately around the tree. (This is sometimes called a microclimate.) Many bonsaiists also like humidity trays because they catch excess water. That sounds trivial, but you probably don’t want to carry your bonsai (or bonsais) back and forth to a sink every time you want to water them.
Using a humidity tray or not is mostly a bonsai hobbyist’s personal preference. In my case, I’m getting one because I don’t want traces of dirty water on my counter. Any increase of humidity is icing on the cake.
Why does humidity matter?
Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. Humidity matters because plants can loose water faster through their leaves than their roots can take in. Vice versa, plants can take in the water they need to live from their surrounding environment.
Most indoor living spaces for people are dry enough to be compared to a desert environment. But most tree species that are used for bonsai do not grow in the desert (most tree species in general do not grow in the desert so this is no surprise). Lack of humidity is one of the reasons that most bonsai can’t live indefinitely indoors. As a point of reference, greenhouses that grow plants have high humidity.
Just the same way humidity being too low can cause dry throat, asthma, dry skin or other problems in people, having the humidity too low can cause problems for plants.
Humidity matters because too dry an environment will kill or sicken a bonsai.
Can’t I just increase the humidity in my house?
You can and should increase the humidity in your house if your home runs on the dry side (to an extent). If it does not you should not add humidity. Let me explain.
Most plants do best at a relative humidity somewhere around 70-80%. Modern homes and indoor spaces have significantly lower levels of humidity than that. The U.S. EPA defines indoor air quality by using a few factors, one of which is having less than 50% relative humidity. Higher indoor humidity levels breed mold and disease. Humidity levels somewhere around 35% – 45% are closer to optimal for human comfort and to protect your possessions.
Some indicators that humidity is getting too high indoors are fogging windows or if things have been out of hand too long, a musty smell. On the other end if you get hair static or when you touch someone you spark a shock the humidity is too low. If you want to know exactly where you stand you can pick up a hygrometer. (Check first to see if you already have this feature on an indoor thermostat or outdoor thermometer).
Those ballpark numbers (70-80% vs. 35-45%) should illustrate the problem with indoor bonsai and why you usually see the same short list of plants grown indoors all the time.
Is there another way? What about misting, humidifiers, terrariums?
Misting works well but it’s temporary. It also gets things around your bonsai misty too. If misting works well for your daily life routine and where you keep your bonsai, it’s certainly an option.
A humidifier does a better job of keeping indoor humidity in a single room at a better level for plants. If your house in winter stays around 35% humidity then absolutely consider getting a humidifier for the room you keep your bonsai in to get it around 45%. Too high a relative humidity will encourage mold growth, so be mindful of those humidity levels in a conventional indoor space.
If you get a humidifier, know that you will have to refill it daily and it requires cleaning. You should only use distilled water in a humidifier anyway, but some also have filtration systems which can help remove microorganisms and minerals. Using unfiltered water in humidifiers will translate into build up on mirrors, glass, and surfaces in your home (a sort of white dust). It’s healthier for you as well as your plants. Many people also prioritize how quiet the unit is. Cheaper humidifiers can leak after extended use, so make sure to read reviews. Personally I like this humidifier. It’s pretty quiet and does the job.
You can also use a terrarium. Ideally with a lid you can open and partially close. When you choose a terrarium you’re immediately restricted by size of space, so you would likely be talking about displaying finished bonsai. Bonsai is, after all, a visual art and there are beautiful terrariums available, as well a cloche may work well for your purposes. The cloche has the benefit one the terrarium of having no lines or bars restricting viewing.
What are signs that my bonsai wants more humidity?
Plants in low humidity may yellow and drop their leaves, or leaf tips will brown, buds and flowers drop, leaves shrivel and wilt or edges curl in. (You may have seen plants in large office buildings, with long leaves that are brown on the sides or tips. Sometimes someone will cut off the brown with scissors. These are prime examples of a plant kept in too dry an environment.
The thicker the leaves the more hearty and exempt they are from this rule. Thick leathery or hairy leaves are better protected from loosing their moisture. (Think desert landscapes. Cacti and succulents have evolved to be better able to protect themselves from moisture loss in dry climates).
Where can I get a humidity tray?
You can make your own. Any flat shallow dish will do. An old cookie sheet is a free option that would work well (if you don’t have an old cookie sheet on hand visit a thrift shop where you can find them for a few cents.) Any shallow dish with a lip around the edge will work.
Uniform pebbles you can find at a craft store (I’d go to Michaels crafts or the Dollar Tree has them in the florist section).
If you prefer a more polished look, you can also find “bonsai” humidity trays in most bonsai online retailers, or on Amazon. There are thin inexpensive models for less than $10, (but less expensive models may have a higher risk of cracking). Some humidity trays you can buy as sets with a bonsai pot. Buy whatever fits the size of your bonsai or bonsai collection and suits your style.
Tips for using humidity trays
- Grouping multiple trees together increases humidity as well. Plants benefit from moisture provided by their neighbors
- You should never place a bonsai or plant in direct path of air or heat. But doing this with a humidity tray also makes the humidity tray mostly pointless – any humidifying moisture would be carried away before the tree could absorb it.
- Using a humidity tray isn’t a magic fix to let you bring outdoor bonsai indoors. Even using a humidity tray, only keep those bonsai that are suitable for indoors in the indoors. Bonsai labeled as indoors are traditionally those species that do not require a winter dormancy period and are tolerant of the low humidity indoors.
- Some species that are commonly sold in big box chains that especially like humidity include ficus and juniper.
- Generally speaking, the lower the light requirement for a plant, the higher the humidity requirement. Some good examples there are moss, desert cacti, and succulents. Once established, they can go for surprisingly long periods without water if the humidity levels are high
- Lots of humidity is necessary to create aerial roots. Anything that has (or can develop) aerial roots will like humidity. Ficus (most kinds really) are top of the list here but also Hawaiian Umbrella (schefflera).
Remember, leaving out a dish of water isn’t a miracle panacea for bonsai. But humidity trays may help with moisture, and they keep your place clean. For more information on how to take care of your bonsai, visit my 101 page.
Misting Aids Plants’ Need for Moisture
Question: In this dry weather, I’m concerned about my houseplants. Should I be providing extra humidity?
A.C., Yorba Linda
Answer: Many houseplants originally come from tropical jungles where the air is heavy with humidity. This is not exactly a replica of most homes. Fortunately, many of these tropical descendants can live in the low moisture levels found in our homes.
To grow really well, however, most houseplants like a little extra humidity.
In general, houseplants do best between 30% to 40% humidity and most homes don’t provide high enough levels. The humidity of your home depends on a variety of factors, such as where you live (inland is drier). Heating and air-conditioning also lowers humidity.
You can test the humidity level of your home with a hygrometer, an instrument that measures moisture in the air. They can be found at some nurseries, hardware stores and through mail-order.
While some plants will hang in there despite low humidity, high moisture lovers like zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa), anthurium, orchids, fittonia, many palms, African violet, ferns, philodendrons and spathiphyllum are likely to falter without some additional moisture.
Signs that a plant isn’t getting enough humidity include leaves with brown edges and tips and yellowing. Leaf curling is another sign.
There are several things you can do to provide your houseplants with more humidity.
* Misting. Most houseplants–except for fuzzy-leaved ones like African violets–like regular misting.
Misters found at the nursery are generally best to use, because they can be adjusted according to the mist requirements of each plant.
Some plants want a very fine mist while others like to be more wet.
Using tepid or room temperature water, mist in the morning so the plants have time to dry out before night. Misting should create a fine fog of moisture that surrounds and covers each plant. Leaves should look as if light dew has settled on them.
Some plants want daily misting; others are OK with two to three times a week.
Besides misting, it’s also a good idea to rinse plants outside with a hose or in the bathtub at least twice a year. Not only does this provide them with moisture, it cleans the plant leaves and will prevent spider mite infestations.
* Humidity tray. Placing plants above water also provides them with moisture. It is the best way to humidify plants that can’t be misted because of fuzzy leaves that are susceptible to leaf spotting and rotting, such as African violets and the piggyback plant (Tolmiea).
Create a humidity tray by filling a waterproof plate or bowl with polished stones, pebbles or marbles. Add water, stopping when the water level is just below the top of the rocks. Place the plant on top of this, making sure that no water touches the bottom of the pot, as this can lead to root rot.
Humidity created in the water below will slowly rise to the plant. Check the effectiveness of your humidity tray by taking a reading near the foliage with a hygrometer.
* Grouping. The more plants you put together, the more humidity they create for one another. Group small plants, making sure to leave a little room in between each one for air circulation. Or try surrounding the base of larger plants with small ones.
Corn plant (Draceana fragrans ‘Massangeana’), palms, ctenanthe, banana and schefflera are large humidity lovers that look good surrounded by small moisture seekers such as arrowhead plant (Syngonium), pilea, caladium, croton (Codiaeum) and begonia.
* Consider location. Keep plants that like humidity out of all drafts, because continuous air movement will dry them out. Position them away from windows, doors and heating and air-conditioning ducts.
If the lighting is right, many plants can thrive in bathrooms and kitchens, which are naturally humid.
* Low-humidity lovers. Plants that get by without extra moisture include succulents, such as kalanchoe and sansevieria, Draceana marginata, fiddleaf fig (Ficus lyrata), yucca, pothos, ponytail plant (Beaucarnea recurvata), cissus and spider plant.
Have a problem in your yard? University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are here to help. These trained and certified horticultural volunteers are dedicated to extending research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management. They are involved with a variety of outreach programs, including the UCCE Master Garden hotline, which provides answers to specific questions. You can reach the hotline at (714) 708-1646 or send e-mail to [email protected] Calls and e-mail are picked up daily and are generally returned within two to three days.
Ideal Conditions for Healthy Houseplants
Once the weather cools and the snow starts to fall, most gardeners enter a deep “green depression,” unless they know how to maintain ideal conditions for healthy houseplants.
Houseplants can give many health benefits, from cleaner air to a better mood in Winter!
I hear countless people walk through our doors this time of year, take a deep breath, and sigh. Then they head for the plants. When asked if they need help or if they have questions, most just shake their heads and say that they just need a little bit of spring to help get their gardening fix. Indoor gardening can help people get through the winter doldrums, and in cases where people don’t have a yard, it is the only option. Besides winter therapy, houseplants have many other benefits. Not only do houseplants clean the air, but they also brighten dark corners and provide color, texture and interest to your home.
Houseplants are simple, they only have a few basic needs:
Easy to use soil moisture and light meters can help you ensure your houseplants receive the proper water and light.
Since most houseplants are tropical, temperatures are important. Most of our homes are warm enough (although cooling it off by a few degrees at night would actually help our little green friends). Most common houseplant dislike hot and dry conditions. They prefer a cooler, moister condition than is typical in our homes. Tropical areas tend to be warm and humid during the day, and much cooler at night. Our homes tend to keep roughly the same temperatures during the day and night, and with our methods of heating, the air tends to be much drier than most plants need. Dropping the temperature as much as 10 degrees at night and you will find some plants will reward you for it. For example, Phalaenopsis(or Moth) Orchids tend to bloom with short days and cooler nights!
Plants need light, but different plants have different requirements. Try to match indoor plants to the environmental condition of your home. There are 3 key aspects of light to keep in mind: Intensity, Duration and Quality.
Intensity is the strength of the light. An example would be a south facing window with full sun, compared to a north facing window with no direct light. The light may come through the window for the same amount of time, but the south window has a much more intense light than the north window.
Duration is the length of time the light is available. Compare an east window with a south window. The east window will get bright light, but for a much shorter period of time than the south facing window.
Last but not least would be Quality. There are many artificial light sources, but nothing beats the natural light of the sun!
During the winter, our days are so short that there is never enough light. You may have the best location in front of the proper windows for each plant you own, but the angle of the sun and the length of the day rob us of our much needed intensity, duration and quality. Because of this, our plants still suffer and drop a few leaves here and there as they try to accommodate for the lack of light. Don’t be alarmed! It’s winter and they will return to normal when spring comes. Using a grow light will help to counteract the lack of light during this time of year, but make sure that you are familiar with the different types of lights and how they are meant to be used.
Natural sunlight is the best light for a houseplant.
Another often overlooked secret is to clean the leaves. Dirty leaves block sunlight, glorious sunlight. Wipe the leaves with a damp sponge, or if your plant is easy to move, simply put it in the shower for awhile. Keep the temperature of the water tepid, not warm or cold.
Plants need water. Plants tend to need less water during the winter than when they are actively growing, however, different plants have different water needs. During their active growing season, most tropical plants need moist, but not soggy soil. How do you get consistently moist soil without over watering? Good question! Each plant is different, they use different amounts of water based on how they are potted, how much sun they get, how warm they are…etc. The only way to truly know the answer to that question is to know your different plants needs and then observe the plant in it’s new environment and be ready to react to changing conditions. Some plants need to dry out slightly between watering, some need to stay moist at all times, others need to dry completely between waterings. Easy to use soil moisture meters can help you ensure your houseplants receive the proper water amount.
Sometimes we forget to water until it’s too late. If the soil has dried out completely and is shrinking and pulling away from the edge of the pot, it is unlikely to get properly re-hydrated with regular watering methods. The best thing to do is fill the sink or a pail with tepid water and plunge the whole pot under water. It is really best if the water is over the surface of the soil. If it floats, hold the entire pot under the water surface or weigh it down so it remains submerged. Leave it submerged until it stops bubbling (a few extra minutes won’t hurt). Drain and if the plant is wilted, set it in a cool shady spot to recover. Remember that plants don’t need as much water in the winter as they do during the summer. Keep an eye on your plants and adjust their care accordingly.
Heating in our homes dry out the air to desert-like conditions. During the summer most homes (without air conditioning) have humidity levels in the 40-60% range. This is perfect for indoor plants. It is dry enough to inhibit fungus, but moist enough to keep them comfortable. During the winter however, with our heaters blazing, it is common for humidity to drop below 30%. Desert air has 10-30% humidity…much too dry for all but the cactus and succulents. Rooms, such as the bathroom or kitchen, which tend to have a little higher humidity are a little more plant friendly. If you want to keep your plants in drier areas, there are some things you can do. Adding a humidifier to a room will definitely help, but there are easier ways.
Humidity can be key for keeping plants healthy in winter.
- Group plants together. There tends to be more moisture around the pots (full of moist soil), and the air that is trapped around their leaves. Be careful with plant groupings though. They don’t like to touch each other and need some “personal space”. Close but not touching will keep them happy together.
- Misting plants can help to raise the humidity. Make sure to only mist plants in the morning, so that the leaves can dry before nighttime. Don’t forget to mist both sides of the leaves, not just the top. Misting also helps to prevent spider mite infestations; mites love dry air!
- A pebble tray is the best way to raise the humidity around a plant. A pebble tray is simple. Fill the tray so that the plant sits on top of a layer of small stones rather than the base of the tray. Fill the tray with water and with the plant on top of the pebbles it won’t be sitting in the water. As the water evaporates out of the tray, the air surrounding the plant will be humidified!!! Use a cookie tray to make groupings of several pots together in a single tray.
Rest and Feeding
Just like people, plants need rest too. After a long season of growing new leaves, branches or perhaps flowers, plants need a break during the winter. You may notice plants that all summer had shiny new leaves will suddenly start to lose a few leaves as they days get shorter. Perhaps the leaves start to turn yellow in the middle of the plant, or maybe they simply look dull and not as happy as they did in the spring and summer.
Resist your first impulse to water more and fertilize. Plants need much less food and water during the winter in order to remain healthy. Only feed your plants when there is active growth; this pretty much eliminates the need for fertilizer during the coldest and shortest days of winter. If fertilizer is necessary, it is best to only use about half as much as the directions call for. Once spring and summer arrive, go back to full strength. NEVER feed a plant that is very dry. If the plant is dry, water it well and then feed it a couple of days later. Plants that are stressed should not be fed and if there is ever a doubt, just skip the feeding. Plants will do much better for much longer without food than with too much food.
Winter isn’t really the time to be re-potting, but we can’t help it when we find the perfect pot! Remember that the plant is resting during the winter and you don’t want to encourage new growth when the light requirements can’t be met. Don’t hesitate to buy the new pot, just set the plant in the container until you can re-pot it in the spring. It is bad to have a pot that is too large. When you are shopping for a new container for your beloved plant, keep the size no more than 2” or so larger. If you love to redecorate with different colored pottery, you can always pot your plant in a cheap plastic pot that you can move from container to container without disrupting the roots. You will cut down on the mess of re-potting all the time and your plant will thank you for it!
An indoor plant expert reveals a simple trick to keep your houseplants from dying
- Plant roots need air to breathe, so over-watering soil can cause them to suffocate.
- Gardening pros say you can avoid drowning your plants by touching the soil before you add more water.
- A misting spray bottle with a small concentration of peppermint soap can keep mealy bugs and fungi away.
Plants aren’t the most demanding creatures in our homes — they need just three things to stay alive: water, air, and sunlight.
So why do so many indoor plants end up dead?
New York City indoor plant expert Matthew Schechter believes everyone should be able to bring a little greenery into their home. Schechter was born into a family plant business — he’s been learning about leaves and roots since he was a tot. Now he nurtures plants of all shapes and sizes, from basic office shrubs to ornate sculptures for red-carpet events and delicate orchids.
Plants aren’t just nice to look at: they can naturally purify the air, have been proven to reduce stress and even stopped crime in one Japanese neighborhood. (A Tokyo district dealing with a surge of break-ins in the early 2000s planted flowers and saw burglary rates fall 80%.)
But Schechter estimated that “99%” of plant owners aren’t doing one basic move — and it’s killing their greens.
Over-watering is more common than we realize
“No one’s checking the soil,” Schechter told Business Insider. “Everyone’s just watering the plants.”
Chad Miller/Flickr Most houseplants aren’t dying because they’re being neglected, Schechter said. They’re actually being watered too much.
Like us, plant root systems need air to breathe. If soil gets watered too often, plants slowly suffocate and drown. But checking the soil before you ‘make it rain’ on your indoor flora helps avoid over-watering. If the top layer is still wet, that’s a sign it’s too soon to add more moisture.
Master gardener Mary Dyer suggests watering plants after the first 1-2 inches of soil become dry to the touch.
Plant owners often fail because their routines are too regimented, Schechter said. It’s almost impossible to adhere to a strict watering schedule and expect to keep your plants happy.
“You can go from plant dummy to plant hero in 2 seconds by checking the soil,” he said.
Of course, the amount of water your plant needs and how wet the soil should be depends on the type you own. Succulents like cacti can stay happy in soil that’s near bone-dry, while plants like yellow marigolds and pink bee balm thrive in wet, muddy dirt. Most plants like it somewhere in the middle: not too wet, not too dry.
Because every indoor environment is different, how often plants get watered also depends on indoor airflow and moisture content in a home. A plant in an old, drafty building probably needs a different watering regimen than one in a newly-insulated condo, for instance. A watering schedule can also shift throughout the year, since radiators dry out the air in the winter.
Make your plants feel at home
Interior Foliage Design
Ensuring there’s enough moisture in the air around your plant is important, too.
Use a spray bottle to give the leaves of your plants a spritz “when you’re bored in between your Netflix binging,” Schechter said.
This will add humidity to the air, making it more like some of the environments where these organisms naturally grow.
“You’re making the plants feel more at home,” Schechter said.
If you’re worried about bugs, a small concentration of peppermint soap mixed into the spray mix (1-5%) will help kill bacteria or fungi away and deter mealy bugs.
Scientists have known for years that humans need a certain amount of physical touch for proper development and well-being. You can apply the same idea to your plants by touching the dirt before you water them.
Does misting actually help?
I personally view misting as pretty much futile when raising humidity is the goal; and there are some compelling reasons, rooted in plant physiology, why we may wish to reconsider the habit/practice of misting, even if we set aside the fact that it helps for only a couple of minutes and has no residual benefit. In passing, I’ll also mention that we should consider the possibility that water from misting, dripping from leaf to leaf or plant to plant, will carry and spread insects and other pathogens, especially fungi. Misting does help satisfy the nurturing side of growers who adhere to the practice, though. ;o)
There is something very important about misting that no one EVER mentions on these forums. In many, probably more than half of all plants, exposure to rain causes rapid suppression of photosynthesis by inducing stomatal closure and causing temporary decrease or cessation of the photosynthetic mechanism. Examining plants exposed to several minutes of misty rain often reveals complete stomatal closure within 2 minutes, with a 30-40% decreases in photosynthetic ability within 1 hour. In addition, it often takes many hours to several days for plants to return to a “pre-rain” ability to carry on the efficient business of photosynthesis.
Moisture on leaves and/or in the air surrounding plant foliage will determine the humidity difference (gradient) between the inside of stomata and outside of the leaf (this is termed the saturation deficit). Humidity level just inside stomata is usually very high as they are normally full of water vapor, which will move out rapidly if there is a steep concentration gradient in humidity, i.e. if the surrounding air has low humidity. This causes a drop in turgor which closes stomata. If you equalize the gradient, or raise surrounding (relative) humidity, turgor remains constant so stomata remain open.
Some discussion of “diffusional resistance”, or things that slow down the diffusion which would occur naturally based on the water vapor concentration gradient (slow water loss through leaves) is required to understand the effect of misting. Primary considerations: the “stomatal pore” and the “boundary layer”. Most, (almost all) transpiration occurs through the stomatal pores. We already saw that plants slow water loss by closing their stomatal pores when water is in short supply, but it occurs when something slows transpiration as well.
The blanket of unstirred air on the outer surface of the leaf is called the boundary layer. It helps insulate the leaf against water loss because it becomes nearly completely saturated with water vapor. The thickness of the boundary layer might only be a few thousandths of an inch, and depends, in part, on the degree of air movement, which blows away the boundary layer. If there is no air movement, a thicker layer and slowed transpiration results. More wind gives a thinner layer and rapid transpiration. At high wind speeds, the stomata usually close to prevent this rapid water loss (see above).
You can see examples of how the boundary layer works in cacti and plants that are pubescent (hairy). Most are slow-growing. I have read that the primary reason, indirectly, is stomatal closure due to the more effective boundary layer slowing transpiration and thus slowing photosynthesis.
So – weve seen that rain or mist on leaves obviously slows water loss from foliage by making (near) perfect the boundary layer. Since this slows transpirational loss, it closes stomata and also slows photosynthesis, which is not a good thing.
Even though we may not be able to expect the a negative impact on every single species of plant, I have concluded (for my own purposes) that an increase in relative humidity in air surrounding the plant is the most effective way to keep stoma open and insure optimum photosynthesizing ability and vitality. Remember, that there are abundant other factors that influence stomata function – light, temperature, internal plant rhythms all play into the equation, but far more plants will experience reduced photosynthetic ability when exposed to rain or mist than will not.
Many of our indoor plants originate from humid jungle environments so moisture in the air is vital to keep your plants lush and healthy. Generally, houseplants prefer 40-60% humidity much higher than most of our homes—especially during the winter when fireplaces and furnaces dry the air out. Therefore, it’s essential that you increase the humidity for your plants. Besides misting your plants regularly, there are several other options to keep your plants (and yourself!) healthy and happy during the winter months.
What are the signs that your plants need higher humidity?
– Leaves develop brown edges
– Plants begin to wilt
– Leaves begin to yellow
– Foliage becomes crispy
How to increase the humidity for your plants:
This will raise the humidity around the plant, but the effect is temporary. Never mist plants with hairy leaves, such as African violets, Purple Heart, Stretocarpella to name a few. The “hair” on the leaves holds water in place, encouraging diseases and leaving spots on the foliage.
Create a microclimate.
Place several plants in a group, creating a pocket of humidity. If able put a dish of water in the center or a small watering can full of water.
Use pebble trays.
Place a layer of pebbles in the tray, add water until the pebbles are not quite covered and set the plants on top. The pebbles hold the plant above the water so that the roots are not constantly wet. As the water in the tray evaporates, it increases the moisture in the air around the plant.
Get a humidifier.
Good for the plants but also good for humans to add extra humidity during the winter period.
Give them a bath!
Give your plants regular showers or baths during the winter months. Not only do they enjoy the extra moisture, but this will also clean any dust from the foliage where tiny pests like to hide. Remember to use lukewarm water.
Place plants in more humid rooms.
Areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms all tend to have more humidity naturally.
Do you have a plant question or concern? Don’t worry Plant Mom is here to help! No matter what your question is or what kind of plant you have, I am here to answer your questions and give you the encouragement you need to be the best plant parent you can be. I want to share my love and knowledge of plants with you.
Raising Humidity: How To Increase Humidity For Houseplants
Before you bring new houseplants into your home, they probably spent weeks or even months in a warm, humid greenhouse. Compared to a greenhouse environment, the conditions inside most homes are quite dry, especially in winter when the furnace is running. For this reason, it is important that you learn and practice appropriate humidity houseplant care to ensure the longevity and health of your beloved plants.
Humidity for Houseplants
Indoor plants need humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent, and suffer from stress when the humidity for houseplants is outside that range. If you don’t have a hygrometer to measure the humidity inside your home, watch your houseplants for signs of stress.
Consider raising humidity levels when your houseplants exhibit these symptoms:
- Leaves develop brown edges.
- Plants begin to wilt.
- Flower buds fail to develop or drop from the plant before they open.
- Flowers shrivel soon after opening.
How to Increase Humidity
Increasing humidity levels in the home is not difficult and will prove beneficial in the long run. Misting plants, growing them in groups and using water-filled pebble trays are the most popular methods for raising humidity.
Misting plants with a fine spray of water raises the humidity around the plant, but the effect is temporary. You should not mist plants with hairy leaves, such as African violets, however. The “hair” on the leaves holds water in place, encouraging diseases and leaving unsightly spots on the foliage.
Placing houseplants in groups not only looks terrific from a design perspective, but it also creates a pocket of humidity. You can increase the humidity even more by placing a dish of water in the center of the cluster. Keep a container of water nearby to make it easy to replenish the water in the dish.
Another way of increasing humidity levels around your plants is to set them on a tray of pebbles and water. Place a layer of pebbles in the tray, and then add water until the pebbles aren’t quite covered. The pebbles hold the plant above the water so that the roots don’t become waterlogged. As the water in the tray evaporates, it increases the moisture in the air around the plant.
Humidity Houseplant Care
Rooms where you use a lot of water are often very humid. If a plant in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room shows symptoms of stress from high humidity, move it to another part of the house. On the other hand, plants that show symptoms of low humidity will benefit from spending some time in the humid parts of your house.
Most houseplants originate from humid jungle environments, and moisture in the air is essential for their health. You’ll be surprised at the way your plant will respond to adjustments in humidity, and you’ll have the satisfaction of enjoying lush, thriving plants.
Indoor plants often benefit from humidity levels higher than our homes naturally provide. This can be a particular problem in winter when we have the heating on and the windows shut. This article will show you some great ways to increase humidity for indoor plants to create a more pleasant environment for them and for you.
How to increase humidity for indoor plants: Increase humidity for your houseplants by grouping your plants together, misting them, using a humidifier or using a humidity tray. Locating your plants in a bathroom or growing them in a terrarium or indoor greenhouse can also really help.
There are so many options to increase humidity for indoor plants. It helps your houseplants thrive and can be beneficial for you also, as moderate humidity levels are much more comfortable than low humidity. Read on and I’ll explain why increased humidity is great for your houseplants and how to achieve this.
10 Great Ways To Increase Humidity For Indoor Plants
These 10 simple options to increase humidity for houseplants are easy to set up and will work whether you have a single houseplant or a house full of plants.
1. Group Your Plants
Plants lose water from their leaves through tiny pores called stomata, in a process called transpiration. This water vapor enters the air in the immediate vicinity of the plant, increasing local humidity. By grouping your plants together, the amount of transpiration increases, and humidity levels will improve significantly.
Have you ever walked into a garden center and felt the humidity in the air. Well, this is partly due to the transpiration of all the plants in close proximity. A great, natural way to increase humidity.
The drawback here is that you need to have lots of plants in one area. Often this isn’t practical or desirable. What if you don’t want to have 20 plants in your kitchen, but just really like one or two to add a bit of greenery.
2. Mist Your Houseplants
The first option many people think of to increase humidity for their indoor plants is to mist them. Using a simple spray bottle, you can spray the air around your houseplants and spray directly onto the plants.
Some of the moisture will vaporize directly, increasing humidity, while most of it will land on the leaves of your plants and surrounding surfaces. This moisture will slowly evaporate, providing an increase in local humidity for several hours.
This method is quick and easy, but it will only provide an increase in humidity levels for a few hours, so you will need to repeat the process as needed. In addition, much of the water will end up on the plant foliage which can increase the risk of fungal and bacterial disease, particularly in susceptible plants.
Misting in the morning ensures that all excess moisture has time to evaporate during the day, before the cool of nighttime. This minimizes the risk of your houseplants developing fungal or bacterial disease.
Overall, to make any meaningful impact on humidity levels, you need to mist several times per day, which is fairly impractical for most people.
3. Use A Humidifier
Humidifiers are a very simple option to quickly increase humidity for houseplants.
The ultimate no fuss option to increase humidity for your houseplants is to get an electric humidifier. These can be fairly small and discrete and can be turned on or off to create the perfect level of humidity in a room for you and your plants.
With some humidifiers, you can even set them to maintain a particular humidity level, or to operate only at certain times of the day.
Using a humidifier isn’t just for the plants in your home, but there are benefits for you and your family too. I tend to get really dry skin and hair in the winter, when my central heating dries the air in my home like crazy.
Having a humidifer running makes things so much more comfortable and my plants like it too.
4. Put Houseplants In Your Bathroom
Think of the most humid room in your house, and most people will think of their bathroom. Bathrooms are a great place for houseplants generally, and plants which need high humidity levels will thrive in these conditions.
The wet environment created by sinks, baths and showers means there is usually some area of your bathroom that is in the process of drying during the day. Even wet towels are a significant source of moisture entering the air.
Phalaenopsis Orchids, Bromeliads, Ferns and Peace Lilies are great choices for your bathroom. Click on the links to learn more about caring for each of these houseplants.
5. Use A Pebble Tray
A pebble tray is a really simple way to increase local humidity for one or a small number of plants in an otherwise arid location. All you need is a drip tray that is about twice the diameter of the base of the plant pot, or ideally a bit larger.
It should be at least an inch deep to ensure that the water does not evaporate too quickly. Scatter some pebbles that are of roughly of equal size on the base of the tray and fill the tray with water to just below the top of the pebbles.
Place your houseplant pot on top of the pebbles so that it rests securely, without the base of the pot being in water. This will prevent the soil from absorbing the water and the roots becoming waterlogged.
The water will slowly evaporate into the air around your plant, increasing local humidity, while not significantly impacting the humidity level of the rest of your house.
The main drawback of this method is that there will be a constant pool of standing water around your houseplant. This can increase the risk of fungal or bacterial disease developing in your plants and can sometimes attract pests.
However, as a quick, simple solution, that needs minimal maintenance other than to top up the pebble tray when getting low, it’s a great option.
6. Give Them A Bath Or Shower
If you want to get two jobs done in one go, you can put houseplants in your bath or shower and give them a rinse down. This not only cleans the leaves, which is a good thing to do to keep your houseplants in top shape, but drenching the foliage and soil of your plants will lead to increased evaporation and local humidity over the next few days.
7. Use A Terrarium
Terrariums are such fun to design and build and it is no wonder they have become very popular in recent years. They can either be open or closed, providing moderate or very high humidity levels within their respective micro-climates.
Closed terrariums provide exceptionally high humidity levels, and won’t be suitable for all houseplants, but you certainly won’t need to worry about insufficient humidity, as the air will be near fully saturated with water vapor in this environment.
Open terrariums in contrast have a large opening to let air from outside the terrarium circulate freely with the inside of the terrarium. However, the glass walls will trap a fair amount of moisture in the air and reduce ventilation, which will increase humidity levels. Read more about how terrariums work here.
8. The Two Pot Method
The two pot method is a discrete way to increase humidity levels for an individual houseplant, without having to compromise the aesthetics or location of your plant.
Put your hosueplant pot into a pot that is 1-2 inches in diameter larger than the inner pot. Fill the gap with spaghnum moss and soak this with water. The moss will hold onto the water and dry out slowly over the space of a few days, releasing the water vapor into the air around your plants.
With this method, it is best to make sure the inner and outer pots both have drainage holes, to prevent water building up at the base of the outer pot, which could potentially cause root rot for your plant.
9. Dry Clothes In The Same Room As Your Houseplants
I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles to find space to dry clothes at home. And yet your wet laundry is a great source of water vapor that your plants will love you for.
Just set up a drying rack near your houseplants or move your houseplants into the room you dry clothes in. The water evaporating from your clothes will increase the humidity level in the air and your plants can benefit.
10. Cover Your Plants With Plastic
My Kalanchoe blossfeldiana doesn’t need high humidity, but this gives you an idea of the technique.
While not the most attractive way to increase humidity for indoor plants, covering a houseplant with a clear plastic bag will create a highly humid environment for your plant. This can be particularly useful for helping a very sensitive plant through an arid winter indoors.
You can put a number of wooden stakes into the houseplant pot to prop the plastic up off the majority of the foliage. Keep an eye out for excessive condensation forming on the sides of the bag and open it up from time to time if you see this.
In addition, because this creates an environment like a little greenhouse, things can get very hot if you leave your plant in direct sunlight. Ensure your plant is kept in indirect light to prevent excessively high temperatures.
What Are The Signs Your Plants Need Higher Humidity?
After all this talk of increasing humidity levels for your indoor plants, I suppose it would be good to explain why many plants need higher humidity levels.
Many indoor plants originate from tropical locations where they live beneath the forest canopy. These plants thrive in warmer temperatures and lower light conditions, which is why they are so suitable as houseplants.
However, another constant of this climate is the higher humidity levels that are found. Plants taken out of their natural environment and placed in arid indoor conditions can soon show signs of stress.
If you know what to look for you can adjust the conditions and help your plants thrive. Here are the 8 most common signs your houseplants need higher humidity levels.
Brown Leaf Tips And Edges: Most moisture from a plant is lost through the leaves. In arid conditions, the rate of transpiration and evaporation will be higher. The delicate edges of the leaves are most sensitive and can easily suffer and turn brown in low humidity conditions. Brown leaf tips is a common problem for houseplants. Low humidity and watering problems are the two most common causes.
Yellow Leaves: Yellow leaves are a sign of plant stress that can be due to multiple reasons. Seeing a rapid increase in the number of yellow leaves on your plant should prompt you to review all care, including humidity levels.
Crispy, Dry Leaves: Low humidity levels cause excessive drying of the leaves and sometimes they are unable to remain sufficiently hydrated and they will become crispy and dry. This is a warning sign and needs to be fixed fairly rapidly.
Buds Drop Before Opening: The buds and flowers of most plants are the most sensitive to low humidity levels. When I grow flowering houseplants, seeing new buds and flowers is the most exciting and rewarding part of the growth cycle. Seeing buds dropping is so disappointing. Low humidity is a common cause, so think about this if you see it happening.
Buds Fail To Develop: If plants are stressed, many will refuse to flower, and the stress caused by low humidity can prevent your houseplants flowering in the first place.
This isn’t always the case, as there are plants where stress causes the plants to panic and rush to produce flowers when they may not otherwise have done. While this can be nice, I’ve had sad experiences where a stressed orchid blooms wonderfully before it’s health takes a major nosedive.
Flowers Wilt Soon After Opening: Dry air causes increased evaporation and water loss, and you may find your blooms start to wilt much quicker in low humidity.
Wilting Foliage: Generalized wilting of the foliage is often down to dehydration, but can be due to low humidity alone, even in the presence of adequately damp soil.
Higher Water Requirements: You may notice your houseplants have higher water requirements in low humidity conditions. As the rate of transpiration and evaporation is higher, more water is needed to keep the plant in good health.
What Is The Best Humidity Level For Plants?
Most houseplants will thrive at humidity levels of 50-60%. If you can achieve these humidity levels, most plants will successfully adapt and remain healthy.
There are a number of houseplants which require very high humidity levels to thrive and a few, but not many which do far better in very arid conditions.
Is Too Much Humidity Bad For Plants?
The main problem is disease. Excessively high humidity levels for the wrong type of plant can be disastrous, greatly increasing the risk of bacterial and fungal disease.
Many bacteria and fungi thrive and multiply rapidly in high humidity conditions, particularly when ventilation is poor. This can cause disease to set in quickly and rapidly kill your houseplants.
If your houseplants are growing in very humid conditions, you should ensure that these are the ideal conditions for the particular plant. In addition, you should ensure that ventilation is reasonable, as moving air will greatly decrease the risk of disease.
Obviously, you don’t want a wind blowing through your house, but opening a window from time to time, or using an electric fan if you are concerned can prevent a lot of problems.
Do Houseplants Increase Humidity?
Houseplants release water vapor into the air from stomata on their leaves. This will increase local humidity where they are growing. So if you are struggling with low humidity levels in your house, a very good option is actually to get some houseplants.
Low Humidity Houseplants
If you don’t like the idea of increasing humidity levels in your home, or if you prefer low humidity conditions, you can still enjoy the benefits of growing indoor plants. The following houseplants will thrive in low humidity conditions
- Aloe Vera
- Rubber plants
- Jade Plant
- Crown Of Thorns
- Ponytail Palm
High Humidity Houseplants
The following plants will do far better in high humidity conditions. If you’re keeping these plants, you should definitely monitor the humidity levels and use some of the techniques mentioned previously to help maintain good humidity levels.
- Rex Begonia
- Nerve Plant
- Peacock plant
- Orchids (some species)
- Prayer Plant
- Lucky Bamboo
- Boston Fern
How To Check Indoor Humidity
If you keep houseplants at home, I would most definitely recommend picking up a cheap electric hygrometer and thermometer. These very affordable devices will give you a digital display of the current temperature and humidity level, as well as the high and low readings of the temperature and humidity level since the device was last reset.
Using these has allowed me to find the perfect location in my house for a number of my houseplants, and to take measures to adjust conditions where necessary.
I hope you’ve found this article about increasing humidity for your houseplants useful. There are no shortage of ways to do this, but I would definitely recommend monitoring the humidity levels in your home and adjusting them whichever way is best for you and your plants.
If you want your houseplants to thrive and look amazing all year round, then please check out the rest of my articles. This site is packed full of great information to help you grow amazing houseplants and become a better gardener.
Since we use heat more often in the winter months, moisture levels in our homes usually get lower. Low humidity levels can make your skin feel dry, can make it more difficult to breathe, and even cause static electricity…ouch. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways we can do to increase the humidity levels in our homes.
5 Ways to Increase Home Humidity Levels
1. Use a humidifier.
Humidifiers range in size from those that filter through your entire home to those that are best suited for one room of the house. This is the best and easiest way to add humidity quickly but it’s also the most costly.
You do, however, need to clean humidifiers on a regular basis. Here’s how to clean a humidifier quickly and easily.
2. Boil water on the stove.
Boiling water on the stove will add humidity to your home as the water evaporates. Depending on the size of your home, it may not adequately circulate throughout the house. However, you can keep fans on low and keep your HVAC fan in the “on” position to encourage circulation.
3. Distribute bowls of water around your home.
Placing bowls or buckets full of water in strategic places around your home will help add additional moisture to the air. The downside is that if you have kids (or clumsy adults!), they could easily get knocked over.
4. Collect water from your shower.
When taking a shower, you can keep the drain plugged to hold water in the tub until the shower is needed again. This works in a similar way to the bowls but, again, use caution if children are around.
5. Hang or line dry clothes.
Every little bit of moisture helps, even if it comes from damp clothes that are placed on hangers to dry.
Incorporating some or all of these tips should increase humidity levels in your home but this list is certainly not exhaustive.
I’d love to hear your ideas! Do you have any creative ways for adding humidity to your home?
It’s common knowledge isn’t it?
That those little static ‘shocks’ when you touch something are caused by dry indoor air.
But do you know the most common cause of low humidity levels in the home?
It’s air leakage.
The #1 thing to do to protect yourself and your family from too dry air
Cold air entering your home heats up which leads to a drop in relative humidity.
Ergo, air sealing, caulking and installing weather strips, is the most efficient way to maintain healthy, comfortable relative humidity levels in your house.
The smartest thing to to is to nip the source of the dry air in the bud.
Inspect cracks, plumbing and telephone line openings fan covers on walls, the basement, furnace vent stacks, fireplace chimney siding, other outside locations where two different types of material meet.
These are the main cause of excessive dryness in the home.
Fix those leaks first before emptying the ocean with a thimble.
What you should know if your home has a modern forced air heating system
So you got air leakage. You may be inclined to think that you should close off registers and vents right? Not so much. It’s an old wives tale that this lowers your heating bill.
Blocking vents of modern forced air heating systems throw the system out of balance. By messing with how it inhales and exhales air the system has to work harder and could break down.
Save energy by letting heat flow evenly through your house. Blocking vents in certain rooms makes those rooms colder which will draw heat from other rooms in the house, lowering the overall temperature, causing you to crank up the thermostat.
2. Turn down the heat
Raising the thermostat when it’s cold is convenient but wearing a thick sweater instead is greener and healthier. The more artificial heat you use, the drier your indoor air will become. Dry air makes you feel cold and ill. So that sweater will make you feel good not only because you are saving money.
Creative & Simple Ways To Naturally Fix Too Dry Air In The House
Any pot or pan will do. Need your pans for cooking? I bet you have an old pie tin or cast iron pot you can use. Refill once in a few days. A frugal and effective method to increase your home’s relative humidity since you don’t have to buy anything.
Or buy an inexpensive radiator humidifier. These non-electric devices are specifically designed to moisten the air.
4. Dry clothes on the radiator
Similarly, drying your just washed pants or rain wet sweater on the radiator can also help to humidify the air inside. Don’t have still wet laundry available? Use the next tip.
5. The damp towel technique
Place a damp hand towel over a heat vent in the room. The warm air circulating by the furnace will evaporate warm water from the towel for a more humid atmosphere.
6. Put water containers on radiators
Place pots, kettles, pans or other vessels with water on heating ducts, hot air registers, and or radiators. The water evaporates into the air thus helping fix dry air. A cast iron kettle on a woodstove is a proven technique too. For more efficacy, place a partially open fish tank on a good location.
Even placing containers of water around your house will help add needed moisture. Be sure to check the containers regularly and add water as needed.
7. Shallow trays of water in direct sunlight
Sunlight shining through a window on the trays causes water vapor to fill the room it is needed.
8. Cook on the stovetop
Stovetop cooking releases moisture into the air. Your oven dries the air out even more, but your stovetop humidifies your home’s air.
9. Boil water
Quick, easy and effective. Just boil water in a large pot to raise airborne moist in your home. Keep the lid on as the water gets heated, and open it after the water has reached the boiling point. Make sure to place the hot pot in a safe place to avoid burns.
- Bonus tip: Add a few tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil drops. The scents have a soothing effect and help kill airborne germs reducing your risk on catching the common cold or flu.
10. Use your stovetop as a humidifier
Is your home’s air really dry? Turn a stove burner to low and place a teapot or saucepan or teapot with water on to simmer at a low boil. You can use a hotplate or heating element too. Make sure to keep an eye on the water level so the pot does not go dry.
- Bonus tip: while you are at it, add some cinnamon sticks, lavender (or other herbs or spices you like). You can throw in some orange or apple peels too for a great scent in the home.
11. Hack your oven cooking
The heat your oven emits dries the air considerably. Can’t use the more energy efficient microwave or stovetop instead? Place a teapot or another water container on the back burner. The heat of the oven warms it thus adding moisture to the air. This helps reduce the air drying effects of the oven to some extent. The larger the vessel, the more evaporation.
12. Use crock pots
Crock pots not only help you save money on groceries, when you fill them with water and plug them in and keep the lids off they help fight dry indoor air. Boiling water on the stove produces more steam in a shorter time but over time crock pots have proven helpful to many people. Just refill the water daily.
13. The simple but proven sponge technique
A wet sponge is commonly used in small cigar humidors. A soaked sponge exposed to the air helps increase humidity.
14. Make a DIY humidifier
You can choose from various types of simple, easy to make humidifiers. A popular simplified homemade humidifier technique is this. Punch about 20 holes in a large freezer plastic bag. Wet a big sponge and squeeze out the excess water. Place it inside the bag and place it in the room that needs its air dampened.
15. Spray your curtains
Dampen your curtains with a spray bottle. Open the windows to allow warm air in through the curtain filters. The water will evaporate causing your home’s rH to increase.
16. Air-dry your laundry inside
Hang your damp laundry up on a clothes drying rack near a radiator in the home instead of outside or by using the dryer. You’ll save energy at the same time.
Some people use a room fan to spread the dampness throughout the home and increase drying time.
17. Vent your electric clothes dryer inside
For less than 20 bucks you can buy a simple kit that lets you vent your dryer inside the home. The kit catches the lint in a water-filled plastic cup while the exhaust blows the hot moist air from the clothes dryer inside your house. This is a great way if your home’s air is really dry. It really works and adds extra heat to your home too.
- Warning: Don’t use if you have a gas dryer. Its safe only if you use electric.
18. Leave the bathroom door open
It will allow the damp air to spread to the other rooms. Works best during showering but for privacy reasons you could opt for leaving the door after your hot shower.
19. Use a bathroom fan
During and/or after showering and bathing, use your bathroom fan, or even better, a room fan to push the damp air out of the bathroom. You are not only making use of the humidity but are saving energy at the same time since you don’t have to heat the air that would otherwise have left your home through the exhaust fan.
20. Leave water in the bath tub
After you step out of your soothing, sleep inducing hot baths, let the water sit and cool off. The large body of water evaporate into the air making it an efficient way to fix too dry air.
- Warning: have small children? Best not use this method. Also, make sure to ventilate well to avoid harmful mildew and mold (which will force you to have to reduce your home’s humidity, as well as get rid of the mold)
21. Leave the dishwasher door open
Don’t use the drying cycle. Leave the dishwasher door open instead to let the steam flow into your home. Air drying your dishes lowers your energy bill and humidifies your home for free.
22. Make use of potted houseplants
Houseplants have various benefits, for one they help humidify your abode by a process called ‘transpiration’. Plants take up water from the soil with their roots. It then travels up all the way to the pores underside the leaves where moisture is released to the air.
- Bonus tip: place your plants in a bed of pebbles with about an inch of water. Or fill shallow trays half full of gravel and cover the gravel with water. Place the potted plants on top of the gravel.
Before you run off to the store to get some houseplants keep this in mind.
Various plant species need high relative humidity levels to thrive. Get a plant that can survive dryer circumstances. Regularly watering and misting will help your indoor greenery flourish too.
23. Vases with (or without) flowers
Vases with flowers add to the atmosphere in several ways. Flowers smell nice, look great, and the water aids the relative humidity. Grocery stores offer inexpensive bouquets or you can pick flowers from your yard or out in the wild. Place several vases and spread around the house.
Don’t fancy flowers? Some big tree branches can look great in the home too. Make sure to keep them out if you are allergic to trees pollen, a common allergy trigger.
Or just add vases with only water. They match your interior better than cooking pots and pans.
24. Simply a spray bottle
Get a spray bottle (for plants, cleaning products, or the cat) fill it with (warm) water and spray into the air every now and then. The finer the mist the more effective it is.
25. Build an indoor water feature
Build or purchase an indoor waterfall. It allows water to flow with maximum contact with the air. Simple DIY solutions involve a cylinder filled with pieces of plastic and a fan pushing air through.
26. Indoor fountains
Decorative desk-top fountains and other misting fountains can help optimize local humidity. Keep in mind to ensure these devices stay clean and free of mold.
- Added benefit: the moving water has a calming effect.
Who doesn’t know the good old vaporizer used during the common cold. They can be used to humidify your home too. They require virtually no maintenance, and are cheap.
When natural ways t don’t work
Clever, ”MacGyver-ish’ even, as these remedies may be, sometimes radiator pots and hanging laundry just don’t work.
When these theoretically effective measures in reality turn out to be like drops on a hot plate you may have to take out the big guns. You will want to either see a measurable difference, or experience a noticeable difference.
In these cases you need to get a whole house humidifier. In case you need to humidify just one bedroom take a look at this Honeywell room humidifier.
For most households these devices, when properly maintained and in combination with other measures, will suffice.
In extreme cases you may have to resort to…
28. Getting a huge humidifier
Tricks and hacks can help but some cost energy and require effort. Getting a quality humidifier has its benefits. Which humidifiers are recommended?
You tried various of these humidifying hacks and came to the conclusion you need a large humidifier?
Don’t settle for a little table-top device. Those drug store units that can hold a quart of water won’t cut it.
Get a big ass humidifier such as a cabinet or chest humidifier that can hold a whopping 10 to 20 gallons. Even better if it has a humidistat so you you don’t have to turn it on and off (goes automatically)
These things will set you back about 100 bucks but they last for decades. Additional benefit, when you move to a bigger abode you can take it with you. It’s powerful enough to treat larger areas.
How to measure humidity
Purchase an inexpensive humidity gauge (hygrometer) at the hardware or home store. With this device you will know exactly what the humidity levels in your home’s rooms are.
Knowing your home’s humidity levels will help you fix the dry air problem. Hygrometers can tell you that the humidity in your living room is 60% and that of your bedroom is 30% (just to give an example).
Experts recommend to place hygrometers in these areas (bedrooms and living room) since you spend most time when at home.
Appropriate rH levels also help you sleep better at night.
Why dry indoor air is your invisible enemy
Do you often wake up thirsty? Coughing even? These may be indications there is not enough humidity in your living space.
Other symptoms include, dry skin/hair, scratchy throat/nose, bloody nose, aggravated respiratory ailments (increased allergy and asthma symptoms), and people catching colds more easily. Other effects are severe muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and/or fatigue.
Those annoying electric discharges can damage electronic devices. Computers for example can be damaged considerably.
Are you safe from icky dry air lurking in your house?
Wintertime dryness can affect your skin, hair, respiratory system, and even your furniture! It’s a real issue for a lot of people, especially those of us who live in arid or semiarid climates. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some simple solutions to the issues of wintertime dryness!
But before we get to those solutions, it’s important to understand why dry air is so problematic! So here’s a quick overview of the problems that dry air can cause, and some of the benefits you can experience by adding more moisture to the air in your home.
The Problem(s) With Dry Air
Having central heating in your home is a convenient way to keep it warm, but it isn’t without its problems! That warm air coming out of your vents is bone-dry, and the more you rely on that warm air to heat your home, the drier all the air in your home becomes.
Being constantly exposed to extra-dry can dry out your skin, leading to itchiness, flakiness, and even painful cracking. (Ouch!) It also contributes to staticky hair, both in humans and animals. Once these issues emerge, it’s really hard to eliminate them without tackling the source of the problem—the overly-dry air!
The Benefits Of Humidity In Your Home
Aside from keeping your skin moisturized and reducing staticky hair issues, there are plenty of other benefits to increasing the humidity in your home. Here are a few examples:
- Improvement of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Fewer nosebleeds
- Healthier hair
- Less snoring
- Relief from sinus conditions
- Happier and healthier houseplants
- Longer lasting wood floors and furniture
- …and more!
Using a humidifier is a great way to add more moisture to the air in your home. You can find many affordable models online these days, and they’re really easy to operate! It’s important to note that it’s best to use distilled water in any humidifier, to help prevent bacteria from growing in the tank or machine. (And it’s even more important to use distilled water if anyone in your home suffers from allergies!)
Related: How To Clean Your Humidifier, And Why It’s So Important
But even if you don’t want to buy a humidifier right now, there are other ways to add more moisture to the air in your home! Check out these 6 simple ways to humidify your home (without using an actual humidifier).
6 Ways To Add Moisture To The Air Without A Humidifier
1. Hang Your Clothes To Dry
Hang your clothes up to dry on a drying rack, over the back of a chair, or anywhere you have extra space. Your damp clothes will add moisture to the air as it evaporates, and you’ll save energy from not having to run the dryer. (And as an added bonus, it will make your house smell like clean laundry too!)
2. Take A Bath
The next time you finishing a relaxing soak in the tub, don’t drain the water right away. Instead, allow the water to cool off and leave the bathroom door open. The steaming water will add moisture to the air as it cools! (Make sure to put a safety gate in the bathroom doorway to keep small children and pets from falling in the tub!)
3. Cook On Your Stovetop
While cooking in your oven can dry out the air even more, cooking on your stovetop can moisturize the air! It can also warm up your house too (or at least the kitchen.) Simmer a big pot of soup on your stovetop for a few hours to really take advantage of this effect!
4. Put Out Bowls Of Water
Even a bowl or a vase full of water can help humidify your home. Leave them out on a sunny windowsill, and the evaporating water will help add moisture to the air. And if you have a radiator, setting an oven-safe bowl full of water on top of it can be really effective!
5. Get More Houseplants
Ever heard of “transpiration?” It’s the process by which moisture evaporates from the leaves and stems of plants. And transpiration can help increase the humidity in your home! Add a few more houseplants to your living areas for more moisturized air (and plenty of other benefits too—check out the post below for more details!)
Related: The Breathtaking Benefits Of Houseplants
6. Use A Stove Steamer
If you have a wood burning stove, all you need is a cast iron steamer pot to add more moisture to the air! You can find decorative ones like this online, or you can check out your local farm supply store to see what they have to offer. All you have to do is fill the cast iron steamer with water and place it on the top of your stove. As the water heats up, it will produce steam that will moisturize the air!
How do you deal with dry air during the winter?
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Hi, I’m Jillee!
I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!
Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!