How to Use a Humidifier for Plants: Where, When and What

how to use a humidifier for plants

Some of the most popular indoor plants are tropical. Because they come from a tropical environment, these houseplants prefer to live in a warm and humid home. In fact, pretty much all houseplants (except succulents and cacti) love humidity and moisture.

You can try misting your humidity-loving plants to give them the extra moisture they crave. Some people will place a pebble tray near their plants to put moisture into the air. Grouping your tropical plants together can help them draw moisture from one another. But the most effective way to add consistent humidity is to use a plant humidifier.

If you’re curious or in a hurry:
This specific Plant Humidifier is the most popular with our readers.

If you think you might need a humidifier for your houseplants, here are five things to consider:

  1. Determine whether or not you have the type of plants that require high humidity levels. Different plants require different moisture levels. See our list below of plants that thrive in more humid environments (typically they are plants that come from tropical climates.
  2. Measure your home’s humidity level. We’ll walk through some ways to do this. 
  3. Determine the right level of humidity for your house plants
  4. Determine the best type of humidifier for your needs. 
  5. Place your plant humidifier in the right spot and figure out the best time and proper schedule for using it.

Let’s walk through each of these steps so you can determine how to use a humidifier for plants in your home. 

How to Use a Humidifier for Plants

Do My Plants Need a Humidifier?

Before learning how to use a humidifier for plants, let’s determine if your indoor plants need more humidity. 

When you run central heat or air conditioning inside your home, the air in your home becomes dry. Many houseplants only thrive in a more humid, tropical environment. One simple thing you can do to make your air moister is to add a humidifier for your plants. 

Some types of plants need more humidity than others. The following plants thrive in a more humid environment:

  1. Air plants
  2. Alocasias (including Alocasia Polly)
  3. Anthurium (including Anthurium Clarinervium)
  4. Begonia Maculata
  5. Calatheas (including Calathea Ornata)
  6. Dracaena
  7. Ferns
  8. Fiddle leaf figs
  9. Ivy
  10. Lucky bamboo
  11. Monstera varieties (including Monstera Peru)
  12. Orchids
  13. Peace lilies
  14. Peperomias
  15. Philodendrons (including Pink Princess Philodendron)
  16. Pothos varieties (including Pothos N’Joy)
  17. Prayer plants
  18. Spider plants

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so also take a look at your plant to see if it might need more humidity.

Pro Tip: Symptoms of low humidity are leaf drying and curling.

Another sign to look for is brown at the tips of leaves. Low humidity can be a little difficult to diagnose because some symptoms can be similar to underwatering or too much light.  (Brown on the leaf tips usually indicates humidity issues, while underwatering usually caused brown and yellow throughout the leaf.)

How to Measure Humidity Levels in Your Home and Around Your Plants

You don’t have to rely on just how your plants look or how the room feels to determine if your plants are dealing with low humidity.

A hygrometer is a tool that measures humidity. It will give you a quick and accurate reading of the humidity levels in your home. It’s a good idea to invest in a hygrometer because it is the most accurate and can help you adjust your plant humidifiers to get just the right level of humidity near your plants. If you’re not sure whether or not your home already has high levels of humidity, a hygrometer will let you know for sure. 

Our favorite hygrometer:

ThermoPro TP49 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Humidity Meter Room Thermometer with Temperature and Humidity Monitor Mini Hygrometer Thermometer
  • Face Icon Comfort Indicator: Humidity temperature gauge features face icons to indicate DRY/COMFORT/WET air conditions, quickly informs you how to adjust your humidifier or dehumidifier to achieve optimal comfort
  • Highly Accurate Sensors: This temperature humidity sensor features a high accuracy of ±1°F/°C and ±2%-3%RH, making it ideal for measuring dynamic environments like greenhouses
  • Fast Refresh Rate: This digital indoor thermometer refreshes every 10 seconds to provide the latest updates for temperature and humidity readings
  • Compact Display with Large Digits: This digital thermometer indoor outdoor features a compact LCD display with large bold digits, allowing you to read the room thermometer indoor from any angle and distance
  • Multiple Placement Options: This humidistat has 3 placement options - Tabletop Stand / Magnetic Back / Hanging Mount, place the wall thermometer anywhere you wish such as living room, baby room, kitchen, greenhouse, guitar room, office or cellar

If you don’t have a hygrometer yet, a pretty cool ice cube trick will help you determine if your house is too dry:

  1. Put 2 or 3 ice cubes in a glass cup. Add water and stir.
  2. Place the glass near your plants.
  3. Wait three to four minutes.
  4. If moisture does not form on the outside of the glass, your air is too dry. If water has condensed on the outside of the glass, your home may be humid enough for your plants.

There are also visual signs you can look for that will tell you if you already have too much moisture in your home:

  • Condensation on windows during the winter.
  • Excessive mildew in the bathroom.
  • Mold growing on interior surfaces (corner of a closet, kitchen, or bathroom).
  • Peeling, cracking, or blistering paint on the exterior or interior finishes.
  • Excessive dust mite populations (a cause of dust allergies).

How Much Humidity Do Plants Need?

According to one study, most houseplants suffer when humidity is under 20 percent, except for succulents. Most plants prefer a relative humidity level between 40 and 60 percent.  

Cacti and succulents can handle low humidity and will do fine even as low as 10-20%.

how much humidity do plants need

Determine the Best Humidifier for Your Plants

One advantage of using a humidifier for your houseplants is that once you determine the appropriate humidity level using your hygrometer, you can set up your humidifier – find the right settings –  and let the humidifier do its job. You’ll just need to keep it full of water and clean it as needed. 

We’ve written an entire article about our 5 Best Humidifiers for Plants.

To sum it up, these are our Top 5 plant humidifiers:

  1. LeVoit VeSync Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier – comes with a smartphone app that monitors and adjust humidity levels automatically and works with Alexa
  2. Vicks Mini Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifier – no filter to clean
  3. Pure Enrichment MistAire XL Ultrasonic Cool-Mist Humidifiers
  4. Aqua Oasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier
  5. Vornado Evap40 4-Gallon Evaporative Humidifier with Adjustable Humidistat and 3 Speeds

Warm Mist Humidifiers vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

Humidifiers are basically categorized in two ways: warm mist and cool mist. There are two different types of cool mist humidifiers: ultrasonic and evaporative.

Warm Mist Humidifiers are the most popular type. They work by water up to a high enough temperature that it releases water vapor into the air.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations that cause the water in the tank to evaporate. The result is a mist that is fine and wispy. Ultrasonic humidifiers are the quietest. They do not use a filter which is good because it’s one less thing to maintain, but bad because bacteria are more likely to be present in the water vapor. An ultrasonic cool mist humidifier doesn’t use a lot of energy. Just be sure to regularly clean and disinfect your machine’s water tank.

Evaporative Humidifiers have a large basin of water and a wick that pulls water from the basin. The water the is pulled up is blown over a filter and then evaporates. The evaporated moisture circulates in the air and increases your room’s humidity.

As far as which type of humidifer is better for your indoor plants, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. They will all produce the humidity that your plants need.

Where to Place Your Humidifier and How Often to Use It

Where should I put my humidifier for my plants?

Your humidifier should be in the same room as your plants. Ideally, your plant humidifier will be 4-6 feet away from your plants. This placement will allow your plants to absorb the moisture in the air without becoming too wet.

If your plant humidifier has an adjustable nozzle, direct the mist toward the plants.  

Remember that your plant humidifier outputs moisture. Too much humidity can damage your walls, wooden furniture, and wood floors. Do not place your humidifier too close to your walls or on any wooden surfaces. 

When to use a humidifier for your plants?

Start by turning on your humidifier every morning and letting it run until lunchtime. This routine might let enough moisture accumulate to last throughout the day. Check your hygrometer. 

If you’re not getting enough moisture, try leaving it on a little bit longer. 

Depending on where you live, you might need to use your plant humidifier year-round. In the winter, dry air from the furnace can dry out tropical plants. In the summer, the outside air tends to be more humid, but if you are using your air conditioner frequently, the inside of your home will be drier.

The humidity in your home can drop to 10% in the winter months when your furnace is turned on. 

Bottom line: If your hygrometer measures less than 40%, turn on your plant humidifier!

How long should the humidifier be on for plants?

If your humidity level gets over 65%, you should turn off your plant humidifier. Relative humidity higher than this can cause damage to your home and your plants.

Type of Water for Plant Humidifier

It is generally recommended to use distilled water or purified water in a plant humidifier instead of tap water. Tap water can contain minerals, chlorine, and other chemicals that can build up in the humidifier and on the leaves of your plants, leading to damage or discoloration over time.

Using distilled or purified water can help prevent these issues and keep your plants healthy. It’s also important to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent the buildup of minerals and other contaminants.

However, if you don’t have access to distilled or purified water, tap water can still be used in a plant humidifier. Just be sure to clean the humidifier and change the water frequently to prevent buildup and ensure that your plants are getting clean, healthy moisture.

More Q & A: How to Use a Humidifier for Plants

How much humidity is too much for plants?

80% humidity is too high for your houseplants. This is also way too high for your indoor air quality. Stick to a moisture level between 40-60%.

What is a “plant humidifier” anyway?

There is actually no such thing as a “plant humidifier.” We’re really talking about a humidifier made for humans that we use near our plants to give them extra moisture. 

At the most basic level, a humidifier emits water vapor into a space to increase humidity.

Should I get a humidifier for my plants?

If your home is too dry, you will struggle to grow tropical or exotic plants. Humidifiers add moisture to a dry house and can help plants grow and thrive. 

Symptoms of low humidity are leaf drying and curling.

Is a warm mist humidifier or a cool mist humidifier better for plants?

We find the difference between cool mist humidifiers and warm mist humidifiers for plants to be pretty minimal. 

However, if your plants are in an area of your home that is always cold, a warm mist humidifier might increase the temperature just enough to make a difference for your plants. 

The same holds true if an area of your home is always too warm. A cool mist humidifier might be better in this situation. 

We prefer cool mist humidifiers because they use less electricity. Because they don’t have to heat the water, they are more energy-efficient. 

Do plant humidifiers cause mold?

Plant humidifiers can cause mold – yet another reason to monitor your humidity levels closely with a hygrometer. To prevent mold, keep your humidity levels at 55% or lower

Do plants need a humidifier in the summer?

If you use air conditioning to cool your home, then yes. Much like central heating in the winter, air conditioning will dry out the air in your home. 

Do plants need humidity at night?

Yes, plants enjoy humidity at all times of the day. However, if you are not comfortable running a humidifier through the night, that’s OK. Just turn it on in the mornings and check your hygrometer. 

How else can I add/increase humidity to my plants?

A humidity tray is a quick and easy DIY project that can raise the humidity near your plants. Try placing one on a small table. Grouping your plants together can also increase the humidity around them. 

Do plants need more water in low humidity?

Generally, yes. If indoor plants are in a low-humidity environment, they will suck up more water into their leaves. In most cases, the soil will dry out more quickly, and the plant will need more water.

Final Thoughts About How to Use a Humidifier for Plants

Using these five basic steps will set you up for success when using a plant humidifier. Most of our favorite plants love the moisture a plant humidifier can provide – I’m looking at you, Monstera!

If the air in your house is dry, your houseplants will benefit from the use of a plant humidifier.

plant humidifiers pin

Read More:

I hope this guide on will help your plants thrive and lead you closer to a cozy, fresh, and green home!