Did you know that a lot of popular houseplants thrive in a tropical environment? Many of us don't have natural access to this level of heat and humidity. We might live in temperate climates, dry climates, or both.
If you've been wondering why your houseplants always seem to die, there might be a problem with moisture. Plants don't just get moisture from being watered. They also look for moisture in the air around them.
But don't fret if your air is dry. Humidifiers can release moisture into the air through evaporation. Some are built specifically for plants.
We've taken a look at some of the best plant humidifiers on the market, along with tips on how to pick the best option for your setup.
Top 5: Best Plant Humidifiers
Best Lawn Sweepers
This helpful model uses warm mist to moisturize the air. Since the water evaporates, it is more than 99.9 percent germ free. It's a great choice if you're concerned about exposing your plants (or yourself) to contaminants.
The machine is able to maintain moisture levels of anywhere from 40 to 60 percent. You can also choose between three different comfortable settings. The moisture released is invisible, rather than coming out a fine mist.
Part of the germ-free design is the wicking filter. This traps contaminants before they can be released into the air.
This model also has a variety of convenience features. It can be easily filled and cleaned, which is a must when you're using it for your plants. It is also safe to use in the dishwasher. The durable materials are resistant to breakage, so the model should last for a long time.
The product can run for a maximum of 24 hours before shutting off. That means you only have to reset it once a day to give your plants constant moisture. You don't need to worry about getting up in the night or coming home on your lunch break to do it.
The model uses ultraviolet light to kill germs. This UV light is great at destroying the fungi and other potential diseases that might infect your garden.
Vicks is well-known for making remedies that can help with a cold or flu. That's the idea behind this humidifier. But it's also a good option for those who want to give their plants some extra moisture.
This model is built for small and medium rooms. It can hold one gallon of water. Since it uses warm mist to disperse the moisture, it doesn't need a filter. That means you don't need to worry about replacing a filtration system.
If you use the humidifier to relieve congestion, you can fill it with Vicks VapoSteam. This material is built to relieve congestion and moisten the throat.
A full tank can run for up to 24 hours. All you need to do is fill it and let it run. Since it runs for 24 hours, you only need to refill it once per day.
The mist is pure water and 95 percent free from bacteria. It is unlikely to introduce any harmful pollutants to your plants. You can run it both during the winter and during the warmer summer months.
The compact design makes this humidifier easy to place on a table, desk, or shelf. Wherever you need it, you can clear a spot. A built-in tank handle makes it easy to fill and carry the tank from place to place.
Another neat feature is the translucent tank. Since the walls are clear, you can see the water level. That means that if you need to top the tank off before bed, you'll know right away.
The model automatically shuts off when empty. Depending on the intensity, it can run for 12 to 24 hours on one filling.
Each purchase also comes with a three-year warranty. If you run into any issues, you can get a repair or replacement at no extra cost. That makes this a hassle-free purchase.
An optional accessory is the Protec Cleaning Ball. This ball is designed specifically for operation in Vicks humidifiers. It has patented antimicrobial technology that kills 99 percent of bacteria. All you have to do is drop it in the tank, and then you don't have to worry about constant cleaning anymore.
This is by far the longest-running humidifier on the list. For this reason, it's the best choice for anyone who doesn't want to have to refill their tank frequently. The tank holds one gallon of liquid and can run for a whopping 70 hours.
The model is rated for use in rooms that are 320 square feet or less. The smaller the room, the more effective the humidity.
The tank is also protected by Silver Clean material. This prevents fungus, mold, and slime from growing on the surface. It can help protect your plants from disease and fungi.
You also have the option to purchase the model with an aromatherapy tray. This tray lets you use the humidifier as a diffuser for an essential oil. You do need to purchase the essential oils separately.
The indicator light will tell you when the water in the tank is low. That way, you know when to refill it. There is also a nightlight that can be used in your bedroom. The model shuts off automatically when the tank empties, and the mist sprays in multiple directions.
This humidifier is built for large rooms, so it is a good choice for those with larger gardens. It can run for up to 24 hours and has a variable mist control setting.
The model is capable of moisturizing 500 square feet of space. On its highest setting, it can run for 10 hours. There is also an optional night light that you can use with color choices of red, blue, and green.
The package comes with a user manual and cleaning brush, a power adapter, and a five-year warranty. That's longer than most humidifier warranties on the market.
Shutoff automatically happens when the water levels drop to a certain point or the tank is removed.
Soil Moisture Meters
This ultrasonic humidifier is one of the quietest options on the market. It's a great choice if you need a quiet humidifier for the plants in your bedroom. Overall, it produces under 38 decibels of noise.
The tank can hold four liters of water. The machine will then work until the tank is empty, at which point it automatically shuts off. Depending on the humidity and mist levels you choose, along with the size of the room, you can get anywhere from 12 to 30 hours of use out of just one tank.
The model is designed for use in rooms from 107 to 322 square feet. The smaller the room, the longer the tank will last, since there will be less air to fill.
There is a built-in LED interface that's very easy to use. You can pick between three different levels of mist and set your ideal humidity level. The manufacturer recommends 40 to 60 percent, but you might alter this depending on your plant needs.
If you're going to sleep, you can use the nightlight and sleep modes. The nightlight mode turns on a dim light, while the sleep mode shuts off the screen entirely. That helps keep the electronic glow from keeping you awake while you try to rest.
Since the machine shuts off automatically when the tank empties, it is safe to use unattended. There is also a cartridge that filters odors and bacteria out of the water, which helps to protect against mold and fungus.
The manufacturer recommends changing the filter every six months. However, since you'll be using the machine near-constantly for your plants, you may need to replace it more often.
A built-in handle makes it super easy to move the humidifier from place to place. It's also very easy to clean. The package comes with both a user guide and cleaning brush as well, so maintenance isn't a hassle.
The right humidifier for your plant depends largely on your climate and needs. Some people might need a more heavy-duty option, while others might prefer a light mist.
For those who want a germ-free experience, we recommend the Kaz model. This model has multiple layers of germ-killing technology. It can also be run through the dishwasher, so cleaning is much easier than with a lot of other models.
For those seeking a quieter model, we recommend the TaoTronics humidifier. Depending on the size of the room, the tank can run for up to 30 hours. It has a quiet motor and a nighttime mode that dims the light when you sleep. Maintenance is also relatively easy, with a cleaning brush included in the package.
For a humidifier that doubles as an allergy remedy, we recommend the Vicks model. This option will moisturize your plants, and you can also add medicine to the steam that will soothe your own breathing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Humidity is one of the key factors in plant growth. If plants don't have the right humidity level for their adaptive climate, they will struggle to thrive. At worst, they will die.
Humidity measures how much water is in the air. Water vapor enters the air through evaporation. Different biomes have different average humidity levels, and plants might need a lot of humidity or very little.
When discussing humidity, you're likely to see two terms: relative and absolute humidity.
Relative humidity refers to the amount of vapor the water is holding when compared to how much it's capable of holding.
Absolute humidity refers to the exact amount of volume of moisture contained within one cubic foot of air.
As the temperature of an area rises, the air holds more moisture. This is why it's common for high-humidity plants to need high temperatures as well. That goes for the majority of plants that are native to tropical areas.
It's not that cold air can't hold as much moisture. But water evaporates much faster in higher temperatures. This leads to a greater volume of water vapor in the surrounding air particles.
You can have a lot of water or a lot of heat in an area without a high humidity rating. For example, deserts are very dry climates. Even though they're hot, they have little water in the air. Arctic places, on the other hand, are covered with snow and ice. But the cold temperatures cause that water to stay on the ground rather than evaporating.
The planet has a variety of different climates. These are defined by the amount of heat, sunlight, and precipitation they receive. Different plants evolved based on their environments. So if a plant evolved in a place with a lot of sunlight, it will need more sun than a plant that evolved in a shady area.
The same is true of humidity levels. Plants that evolved in high humidity will need that moisture to stay hydrated. Their roots may not be able to draw the water they need from the ground.
On the other hand, low-humidity plants can be damaged by humid environments. They may become overwatered and begin to rot.
This is why it's so important to have separate growing environments for your dry and humid indoor plants. A humidifier may be beneficial for your humidity-loving plant babies, but it's potentially devastating for your desert plants.
Different plants have different humidity levels. However, researchers believe that most indoor houseplants need anywhere from 70 to 80 percent humidity. This can be very difficult to achieve, particularly in the colder winter months.
You can increase your plants' exposure to moisture by moving them to your bathroom or kitchen. Since these rooms are the source of running water, they tend to have a higher humidity content. It's also important to keep plants away from wood stoves, which dry the air.
If you're not sure how to maintain high humidity for your plants, you might consider getting plants more suited to your current climate. These will require less environmental maintenance to take care of.
Orchids need anywhere from 40 to 70 percent humidity to thrive. The exact figure varies depending on the strain. Ferns only need about 50 percent humidity to survive, so they might be a good bet for people in drier climates.
Humidifiers come in a huge number of shapes and sizes. The most key differences, though, are in how they operate. The three main types on the market are ultrasonic, evaporative, and warm mist options.
Every type of humidifier is designed with a tank that you fill with water. This water is then released into the air, creating a heavy moisture content.
Ultrasonic options use specialized vibrations to make the water in the tank evaporate. Rather than heating the water, they produce cool mist. The mist from these humidifiers tends to be wispy and thin.
Evaporative options work similarly to swamp coolers. With this option, the water is drawn over fabric or another absorbent material. After the cloth becomes wet, a fan blows hard on it. This releases minuscule water droplets into the air.
From here, the moisture-heavy air blows out toward your plants. The mist is cool instead of hot, so it's a good choice for temperate plants.
Most humidifiers use the warm mist design. Instead of using complicated engineering, they simply take advantage of the natural evaporation cycle. The humidifier heats the water until it becomes hot enough to vaporize. This heated mist then enters the surrounding room.
Warm mist works well for tropical plants, while cold mist is good for temperate ones. However, the mist won't alter the temperature of your plants enough for this to be a defining factor.
There are certain other advantages to warm and cold mist.
Since warm mist uses evaporation to work, the water is purified. You don't have to worry about any artificial components or contaminants being released with the mist.
With that said, warm mist humidifiers also need to use more power. It takes a lot of electricity to generate enough heat for evaporation, even on the power-saving settings.
Cold humidifiers might have contaminants in the water. But they also consume less energy. It's also possible to run a cold humidifier for a long period of time, so you don't have to perform maintenance as often.
If you're worried about constantly needing to refill and take care of your humidifier, a cold option might be exactly what you need.
The majority of humidifiers are made for plants. Specific garden humidifiers are rarer. There are multiple benefits to humans having more moisture in the air: it prevents dehydration, helps with sore throats, and promotes more restful sleep.
If you want a humidifier for your plants, you'll want something that will help them thrive.
It doesn't matter very much whether you choose warm or cold mist, as this won't alter your plant's temperature significantly. But there are some features you should look for.
One is a long run time. If you're keeping your plant environment in a semi-permanent state of heavy moisture, then you want the humidifier to run for hours. Otherwise, you'd constantly need to reset it.
Look for models that have a minimum of 12 hours of run time. That way, you can sleep and go through your work day without needing to reset it.
Some models can run for more than 24 hours. If you get a humidifier that runs for days, there's even less maintenance required.
It's also important to find a humidifier that can be easily maintained. Look for simple designs that can be dissembled and reassembled without an issue. Since you'll be using the product near-constantly, you need to be able to take care of it if it breaks down.
On that note, a robust manufacturer's warranty is also a good idea.
If you get a small, compact humidifier, you'll have more room to put it in your indoor garden. On the other hand, larger humidifiers tend to be better for moisturizing bigger areas.
For those who are moisturizing places like professional greenhouses, you'll want something more heavy-duty than a humidifier. A fogger or mister often does the trick.
You might be tempted to fill your humidifier tank, turn it on, and leave. After all, that will increase the moisture, right?
But there are other factors to consider. The environment needs to be able to support a high humidity level.
One of the most important things to remember is that you need airflow. It's common for fungus and other plant diseases to spread in heavy humidity. If the air doesn't flow, water might condense on the plants, which could lead to rot. Flowing air blows that water away instead.
These are the best components of a high humidity indoor environment:
- A good humidifier that will run for several hours or days
- A powerful fan that increases air circulation and prevents condensation from forming
- A water and pebble tray that will catch excess moisture so it doesn't damage the plants
- A monitor that charts the humidity and temperature levels of the room over time
The amount of maintenance that a humidifier needs depends on how often it is used. Because you'll be using yours almost constantly, you will need to clean it several times per month. Try to make the cleaning a normal part of your weekly garden maintenance.
If you fail to clean the humidifier, you might end up dealing with mold, fungus, or salt. This builds up much more quickly during prolonged use.
Cleaning is simple. All you need to do is take the machine apart and soak the pieces in vinegar and water. This will purify the surfaces and kill any bacteria. Since you'll do this on a weekly basis, it's important to find a product that can be easily taken apart.