Many of the beautiful houseplants we enjoy indoors are native to the rainforest or tropical climates. Houseplants are often raised in commercial greenhouses where these ideal conditions can be met for the plants survival. Then, we bring the plant home and subject it to conditions it’s not used to.
Typically, our homes are kept at humidity levels for our own comfort, not our plants. The winter comes with dry heat, and then in the summer we blast the air conditioning to keep cool. This can cause plants to struggle quite a bit as they attempt to conserve moisture.
Do you need a humidifier for your houseplants?
Before we talk about where to place your humidifier, let’s discuss whether you even need one in the first place. When it comes to ideal humidity levels and whether you need to supplement humidification, it really depends.
Some plants do just fine with lower humidity levels, while others would prefer to be tucked away in your bathroom with a warm shower running 24/7. But this wouldn’t be very economical, so many of us seek alternate solutions to keep our plants happy. The type of climate you live in has a big impact on this as well.
It’s true that misting your plants leaves or placing them on a saucer of water can provide a small amount of moisture, but the benefit doesn’t outweigh the risk. Misting your leaves can cause fungal issues, and leaving bowls of water out can very quickly attract fungus gnats. The one exception is with ferns or air plants, as they do appreciate frequent misting.
Be sure you are watering your houseplants properly, as this will help keep them happy and hydrated as well.
If you want to avoid adding additional humidification to your home, choose plants that don’t require it. There are many beautiful plants that will do just fine in drier conditions. Typically the thicker and waxier the leaves, the less humidity the plant requires.
What is the best humidifier for houseplants?
When it comes to providing supplemental humidification for your houseplants, you have two options. A humidifier that mists (such as a cool mist/ultrasonic) humidifier, or one that does not mist (an evaporative humidifier).
The type of humidifier you choose will also contribute to the decision of where to place it in your home. When deciding which option is best, it depends on your individual needs, as well as your budget.
I suggest shopping with your own needs and comfort in mind first. You’ll want to consider the price, as well as how easy the unit is to clean and what size room the device is suitable for.
- Best cool mist humidifier for houseplants – Cool mist humidifiers are the most popular and common option. They come in a variety of sizes and price points and can be found easily. These humidifiers can create wet spots on the floor and surfaces, so placement is important.
- Best warm mist humidifier for houseplants – Warm mist humidifiers use a heating unit to sanitize the water before it is vaporized. These humidifiers should not be placed where pets and children can reach them.
- Best evaporative humidifier for houseplants – This is my humidifier of choice. It uses a fan and wick to humidify the room instead of using mist. I have found this option to be the best price point for it’s function, and it is the most aesthetically pleasing. And, placement is less important because they do not expel mist.
Where to place your humidifier for houseplants
After you have purchased your humidifier of choice, then comes the question: where do you put it? In general, keep the humidifier elevated off the ground and place it about 3-5 feet from your plants.
Here are some tips to help you find the perfect placement for your humidifier:
- If using a misting humidifier, avoid placing it where any electrical outlets or electronics can get wet. You’ll also want to avoid spots where the floor may get wet and cause a slipping hazard.
- If using a warm mist humidifier, place it away from children and pets as the units can get very hot.
- Purchase an inexpensive hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels of your room. Place it near the plants that require the highest levels of humidity.
- If using an evaporative humidifier, keep in mind that some plants are sensitive to drafts and fans, so you’ll want to give them a bit of distance from the unit.
- Humidity levels above 60% can foster an environment that invites mold to grow. We aim to keep our levels around 40-50% and our plants are happy with this.
- Constant moisture on a plant’s leaves can cause fungal issues. You don’t want the leaves to be wet on a consistent basis.
When deciding where to place your humidifier, there is no need to overthink it. It’s more important the you place it somewhere that is safe for you and your family. The purpose of the humidifier is to increase the humidity in the entire space. So, your plants will appreciate any supplemental humidification you give them.
Tip: Consider using terrariums for plants that need very high humidity levels to be happy. For example, begonias are quite finicky and typically do better in their own microclimate.
Remember to clean your humidifier on a regular basis. I suggest using a diluted solution of vinegar and water weekly. And, if you’re using an evaporative humidifier, be sure to change out the filter when needed.
When it comes down to it, humidity is humidity, and your plants won’t know if you purchased a fancy top-of-the-line humidifier. The aesthetics and ease of use are typically the areas where you begin to see an increase in price.
And despite the trend, for the typical houseplant parent, a humidifier is not a necessary purchase at all. You can place your humidity-loving plants in a sunny bathroom or kitchen, and enjoy your Chinese evergreen and cast iron plants in your climate controlled living room.