What to do if your plant is exposed to dry air

What to do if your plant is exposed to dry air

Dry air can potentially cause damage in sensitive plants, leading to unsightly marks and perhaps even a decline in overall plant health.

Treatment - humidity

Dry air can be harmful to plants as it can interfere with the effectivity of carbon dioxide absorption - a vital part of photosynthesis, which is necessary for your plant to live. This happens because when the surrounding air is too dry, the plant begins to lose its moisture as they ‘breathe’.

The average humidity level of a typical home is around 30%, yet most houseplants - even hardy ones that are adapted to low humidity levels - prefer a humidity of a minimum of 40%, with around 60% being ideal. Of course, this does depend somewhat on the type of plant - some are more sensitive than others, and some can adjust well to a ‘non-ideal’ humidity as long as it stays constant. That is to say, frequent change in humidity levels can be stressful for your plants.

SIGNS THAT THE AIR IS TOO DRY FOR YOUR PLANT

  • Dry, browning leaf tips

  • Curled leaves

  • Flowers may turn brown or fall off

  • Higher water need than normal

WHAT TO DO NOW

In order to compensate for the negative effects that dry air can have on your plant, you should try to increase the air humidity around your plant, by, for example:

  • Increase the misting frequency - misting your plant regularly can help to promote a healthier humidity level. Make sure to follow the misting schedule suggested by Planta. If you don’t see misting listed as an option for one of your plants, it means that misting is not recommended for that particular plant type - some plants don’t like it!

  • Invest in an air humidifier and place it close to your plant. This is a quick and effective solution to improve the humidity levels of your home. You can even buy mini humidifiers that are intended specifically for houseplants

  • Place the pot on stones covered with water. Just make sure that your plant’s roots won't get in contact with the water, as this could potentially lead to rot root - which has a much more damaging effect on a plant and is much harder to treat

  • If you like, you can also carefully remove all the dry, dead parts of the leaves - since they won't recover anyway

One very simple way to help increase the humidity level around your plants is just to group them together! Because each plant gives off moisture through the process of transpiration, this will mean that the air surrounding a grouping of plants will be especially humid. Just make sure that each of the plants that you choose to group together have similar needs - not just in terms of humidity, but also light etc.

For plants that like a very high humidity level, you could even consider using a terrarium instead.

QUESTIONS

HOW CAN I PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN? If you want to try and keep your humidity levels more suitable for your plant, you first need to be aware of a few things in your home. For example, do you use air conditioning in the warmer months? This will make the air significantly more dry. Do you have good air circulation in your home? As well as helping to prevent excessively dry air, this can help with other problems such as preventing fungus buildup in your plant’s soil. Simply put, the easiest solution to a dry air problem is to invest in a humidifier. Depending on where you live and your local climate, you may have to keep this running constantly, or only in the warmer months. Make sure to place it somewhere close enough to your plants for them to be able to benefit from it.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INCREASING THE HUMIDITY LEVELS? As well as making it easier for your plant to carry out photosynthesis - and therefore helping your plant to stay healthy, there is some evidence to suggest that a slightly higher humidity level can be beneficial for humans too. You may have a dry air problem if you experience frequent unexplained symptoms such as dry/irritated eyes, a sore throat and cracked lips. But, of course, if you’re worried about this you should consult with your doctor.