BY LINDA SCHREIBER
Iowa’s winter conditions are troublesome—safety issues navigating the weather and roads outside and dealing with dry atmosphere inside our homes. Although humidifiers are an excellent way to increase the humidity in your home, there are other ways too. Adding plants can increase the humidity and complement your home’s décor.
Plants release much of the moisture they consume. A study conducted by the Agricultural University of Norway showed grouping houseplants helps decrease the likelihood of dry skin, common colds and sore throats.
Water evaporating from potting soil, plus water lost through the plant foliage (transpiration), increases the humidity. You can place houseplants on trays or saucers containing pebbles and water, making sure the water level does not reach the bottoms of the pots. Water evaporating from the trays raises the humidity around the plants.
Your home’s dry air creates a “pull” to bring water from the soil into the plant’s roots through the stems and up to the leaves. Water evaporates from the leaves into the air through stomata (plant pores). The process called transpiration delivers water and nutrients to the leaves and helps maintain constant moisture movement for plant health.
Nearly all plants add some humidity, but some plants are better humidifiers than others. Plants with large, broad leaves (think rainforest) provide greater humidity than those with needle-shaped or small, rounded leaves (like cacti and succulents). Large-leaf plants also absorb more light and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and releasing oxygen. Desert plants typically have small leaves with minimal surface area to conserve water. A few plants are especially beneficial—orchids and succulents—which take in carbon dioxide during the day and release oxygen at night.
Three top plant tips, plus a bonus tip …
- Keep plants in their nursery pots to ensure proper drainage. Set the nursery pots in a decorative pot to add pizzazz to your home’s decor.
- Set plants two to three feet from windows. Direct sunlight can scorch leaves.
- Check plants moisture needs every week and use your finger or a moisture meter to determine if a plant needs water. Different soils in different environments can impact how quickly or slowly the soil dries out. Overwatering is the number one reason plants die.
- Bonus tip: regularly clean your plant’s leaves using a microfiber cloth and water to help them breathe better.