Humidity is the relative amount of water vapour that the air can hold at a given time. This is usually measured on a scale of 0% to 100%. 0% on the one side is very dry and 100% is very wet. Often plant blogs suggest around 60-80% humidity levels for your plants to thrive.

But why is humidity considered so important for a plant? It’s mostly all about water management. Humidity helps the plant absorb water from pores in their leaves where they can often lose water and if they’re not getting enough water through their roots, this additional water can be a great help.

Because most indoor plants are plants from tropical areas and are used to a certain amount of humidity it stands to reason that this is what your houseplants need. And if not directly from a tropical forest, your plants have come from greenhouses where there is a large amount of artificial humidity. When the plant comes home to you, the air will no doubt be drier than what the plant is used to and will react accordingly.

Yes dry air can lead to browning and crisping of leaf edges and the slow growth of a plant. But I think this is particularly the case with what I call ‘sensitive plants’ like Calathea or Velvet leaf Anthuriums.

I think that your average plant however will be happy with the water supply it receives from its roots. Especially if given time to adapt to your environment. As a new plant parent it is more important to focus on the correct lighting, soil and water that your plant receives before you start worrying about humidity.

If you do have a lot of sensitive plants that you think will benefit from a humidifier. Some things to consider:

– Before you invest in a humidifier , it is a good idea to first get a humidity monitor that will aid you in using your humidifier correctly and to identify if you in deed actually need one.

– Consider the area size you want to keep humid. The larger the area, the bigger the capacity of the humidifier needed.

– Humidifiers have the option between top loading and bottom loading water into the device. I find top loading easier.

– Do not use essential oils near your plants, there are some great area around this, but if in doubt – no.

An essential oil diffuser can also be used as a humidifier for your plant but because they are small they need to be placed very close to your plants and you’ll have to top up the water often.

– It doesn’t really matter whether your temperature of mist is set on warm or cold. The biggest difference in your day to day is that warm mist takes up slightly more electricity.

– There are two technologies that are used to diffuse air in humidifiers. The first is ultrasonic and the second is evaporative. Ultrasonic humidifiers use vibrations to turn the water into steam unlike evaporative which uses heat. Ultrasonic humidifiers are quieter than evaporative, although they may use more electricity. Because the evaporative technology uses heat it can help with eliminating bacteria. I have used both technologies and find them both great.

Some quick picks

For humidifiers available online in South Africa, I’ve pulled up a few options. These are all large capacity humidifiers so will cost from R1000 upwards. For in store purchases, take a look at Clicks.

1. Elektra – Ultrasonic Cool & Warm Steam Humidifier

This guy has a 7.5l capacity, is made from a good brand and is a bottom loader. Via takealot.

2. Russell Hobbs Nevoa Humidifier

With 5l capacity, directional mist option and warm mist function. Via takealot.

3. Mi Smart Antibacterial Humidifier

Top loading for water, 4.5l capacity and compatibility with Alexa and Google assistant. Via Mia.

If you have any questions or any wisdom to add, don’t hesitate to drop a comment.