Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2014 > JUNGLE WARM, BUT WHERE'S THE HUMIDITY?


While you are toasty warm with the central heat working away, your humidity-loving plants are experiencing the dry air so foreign to their natural environment. Those especially sensitive to dryness are ferns, palms, and orchids. Here are some tips for keeping these plants happy over the long, dry winter. When small potted plants are ready to water, take them to the sink for a nice shower. Using the spray attachment will humidify and clean the foliage while leaching the soil of damaging soluble salts from municipal water systems and fertilizers. I set my freshly watered plants in the dish drainer until they stop dripping and I can put them back into the decorative pots in my windows. An added benefit is that I get to enjoy the spring-like smell of damp earth as I pour water over the plants. Larger plants would enjoy a nice shower in the shower! From experience, I’ve learned to place a paper towel or two over the hair catcher to keep from sending too much soil down the drain. Let the plants sit in place until the pots stop dripping. Your plants will think they’ve had a nice spa treatment. When watering at the sink or shower, remember to use room temperature or slightly warmer water, as it is absorbed more readily than cold water. Plants that catch and hold water in leaf axils or tightly formed crowns, such as African violets or many orchids, should be tilted to allow excess water to run off (or you may want to dab them dry with a paper towel) to prevent fungal problems caused by standing water. Humidity trays or pebble trays consist of a saucer of water, larger in diameter than the potted plant, containing pebbles or some other waterproof material designed to keep the pot itself above the water line. As the water evaporates, the foliage is humidified. You can place a humidity tray under each potted plant, or cluster several smaller pots on one large tray. Replace the water in the tray each time you find it dry. Light misting with plain water early in the day is a temporary fix, as the humidity created disappears rather quickly, but it can also serve to clean dust off of the foliage, allowing the plant to receive more of the available light. Do not mist so heavily that you get a misreading when checking the soil for water needs. Small, extremely sensitive plants can be kept happily humidified in a terrarium, open or closed, and the terrarium itself can serve a second purpose as a decorative addition to your home or office. Small ferns and African violets are especially happy with this solution. In general, the confines of a terrarium do not allow enough air circulation to keep most orchids happy, unless the terrarium is large enough to allow the addition of a small fan. Avoid placing humidity-sensitive plants too close to a heat source or a fan, and use vent deflectors to direct dry forced-air heat (or air conditioning in summer) away from plants, or simply close off those vents not strictly necessary to your own comfort. In general, the cooler the room, the less dry, and many plants will be happy to experience temperatures in the upper sixties or lower seventies. Do not go overboard on the “cool” however, as most tropical “jungle” plants do not appreciate cold, frosty windowsills!

Posted: 3/6/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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