It has been far too long since I’ve written. If it weren’t for my having contracted a persistent respiratory virus and being forced to stay home and heal, my blog would no doubt still be inactive. Shame on me for allowing the “busy-ness” of life to thwart my passion!
Honestly, though, even before becoming ill I had considered sharing my thoughts on adding humidity to our indoor spaces during the winter months as I had already begun noticing dry heat stress on a few of my houseplants. Finding that my parched, sore throat greatly benefited from the supplemental moisture of a daily humidifier, it further stressed the importance of consistent hydration – for plants and us animals.
One would not think in the relatively humid areas of our world (such as North Texas at an average of 65%) that we would need to supplement the atmosphere. However the comfortable, yet so very dry, heating systems we use in our homes and offices in winter evaporates the moisture that our bodies crave and our indoor plants need to remain healthy.
This makes sense when you think about the fact the vast majority of indoor houseplants have their origins in the moist and humidity-rich rain forests.
Signs of indoor heat stress upon plants can manifest as excessive leaf drop (ferns, crotons) and/or leaves displaying crisp, brown tips (palms, peace lilies, dracaenas.) If you see these issues but have been watering regularly, do not be tempted to over water as you may cause more issues. The leaf surfaces need the added moisture, not necessarily the roots. We all know keeping our bodies hydrated from within is essential; we must drink water to survive. However there are occasions (winter months, visiting windy and arid regions, and frequent air travel) that our body’s surface – our skin – needs a little extra boost of hydration. Thus, we soothe it by topically applying moisture-rich gels, lotions and creams.
Granted, some houseplants require a good supply of supplemental humidity year round such as ferns and bromeliads, but in the midst of a dry, cold winter virtually all indoor plants will benefit from some added moisture to the air. For those that like humidity year round, I suggest they permanently reside in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink so they can benefit from the steam of daily showers and dish washing activities. For the other plants within our indoor spaces there are a few things below that you can do to keep them healthy (or bring them back to optimal health) during the winter:
- Strategically placing and using a humidifier in your home or office will do wonders (for your houseplants and, again, for you, too.) To avoid mineral buildup or eventual fungal issues, be sure to strictly follow use and cleaning directions for these devices. Fortunately, today there are many styles and designs of humidifiers available that will blend into your decor. You can even find mini, individual humidifiers that are laptop/tablet powered!
- Invest in an indoor fountain. The constant flow of running water will release needed moisture into the air. Just as with humidifiers, there are many styles, shapes and sizes of fountains from which to choose, including very small desktop versions perfect for an office cubicle.
- If you prefer not to invest in humidifiers or fountains, simply misting the leaves of your plants on a weekly basis will help replicate the rain forest environment. An added bonus of misting is that it will also maintain the beauty of your houseplants by reducing dust buildup.
- Lastly, whether inside a decorative pot or as part of the exterior, houseplants should always have a bottom saucer that allows for excess drainage and mineral buildup to pass through the soil from watering. You can stimulate a little extra humidity around your plants by placing small pebbles in the saucers and re-setting the pots atop. The pebbles will allow for water to remain standing in the saucer a little bit longer.
As we enter the last month of winter in North Texas I hope the above tips help you and your indoor plants stay healthy and hydrated.
Until next time,