Growing tropical plants can be difficult if you don’t get everything just so. Even if you provide the right amount of light and water, they often need a higher humidity level than the dry air the average house or apartment provides.
Philodendrons prefer humidity in the 70-90% range, due to their tropical nature. Several varieties, including P Scandens, P Bipennifolium, and Pertusum tolerate humidity below 50%, however, according to the University of GA.
There are some things you can do to give your Philodendron the right levels of humidity, even though indoor air is typically too dry.
Do Philodendrons like humidity?
Philodendrons love humidity. They are healthiest at 70-90%, which can be hard to maintain if you’re not paying close attention to your plants.
You can get a hygrometer and set it up by your plant to measure this. (This is a good one on Amazon that will connect to your phone so you know if your humidity drops below the ideal range.)
As mentioned above, the following list of philodendrons are rated by the University of GA as being capable of surviving humidity below 50%. This may lead to them being easier to grow indoors.
- P Scandens
- P Bipennifolium
- P ‘Emerald Queen’
- P ‘Florida’
- P Selloum
- P Pertusum
UGA rates these as being able to survive ‘average’ humidity, which they define as 25-49%. Since this is just a general category, however, and philodendrons are tropical plants, I’d still recommend trying to keep the humidity around them no lower than 40%.
Unfortunately, the ideal humidity for philodendrons and the ideal humidity for humans is different.
The average indoor humidity is around 30-50%, so the chances are your humidity is too low if you’re growing your philodendron indoors and aren’t doing anything to raise your humidity.
In case you were wondering, humidity is a measure of water vapor in the air, and things such as running the AC or raising the temperature can lower it.
(It seems like anything we do that makes it more comfortable for us humans makes it less comfortable for plants.)
Next, I’ll cover some ways to fix this. (I’ll be covering cheap and easy ways as well as some high tech solutions.)
Do Philodendrons like to be misted?
In theory, philodendrons benefit from being misted daily. Misting philodendrons can help to raise the humidity around the plant and keep it well hydrated and thriving. In reality, however, the benefit is small and only lasts for a few minutes.
Misting is more helpful for cleaning dust and debris off of your plant’s leaves than it is with raising humidity for any serious length of time.
We’ll cover some more effective ways further on in the article, but for now, let’s talk about misting if you want to try it for humidity.
As plants from tropical regions, the native environments they typically grow in are extremely humid, and they would likely experience regular misting from rain and other moisture in the air.
Plants can uptake water more readily in the early morning hours, so you should mist your philodendrons in the morning for the best results. Misting later in the day will result in most of the misted water dripping off the plant and into the soil.
While moist soil is essential for humidity, over watering can result in root rot and other issues like fungus gnats. Therefore, mist in the morning until the leaves and stems look like they are covered in a light dew.
Mist using a spray bottle or a hand pump mister starting from the top of the plant and working your way down. Be careful to get the underside of the leaves as well.
During winter months, you can go down to misting every 2 or 3 days instead of every other day. As the temperature drops, growth will slow and water usage will decrease, so an occasional misting will suffice if you choose to use misting at all.
If your philodendron displays signs of drying out, however, you should move to some of the methods I cover in the next section. (I’ll cover these signs later in this post.)
How to Raise Humidity Around Your Philodendron
In addition to misting, there are other ways you can raise humidity as well. In this section, I will cover a few of the best methods.
Use a Humidity Tray with Pebbles
One of the easier and cheaper ways of raising the humidity in the immediate area of your philodendron is to use a humidity tray.
To do this, start by placing a plastic or ceramic tray under your plant’s pot. (You can get these cheap at most hardware stores. They look like this.) Cover the tray in a thin layer of pebbles, and set your plant on top.
Cover the tray in a thin layer of water. Just below the top of the pebbles, not enough to touch the bottom of the pot.
As the water evaporates, it will raise the humidity. Refill as necessary.
Using an unglazed clay/terracotta pot can have this effect as well (as water in the soil seeps through the pores and evaporates), but the above method is much less work than repotting a plant.
Grow Multiple Plants Together
Since plants lose water by evaporating water through their leaves, they will naturally raise the humidity of the air around them by a small amount.
Because of this, you can create more favorable conditions for all of your humidity loving plants by placing them close to each other. This will create a small micro-climate that benefits all of them.
Watch Your Placement
In addition to the previous tip, making sure that they are away from doors, air vents, and other places that are likely to create drafts will slow the rate at which the humidity in their immediate area is taken away.
Beyond this, placing your philodendron in a naturally humid room, such as your bathroom, can help keep the humidity up as well.
Use a Humidifier (& Optionally a Humidity Controller)
If the above tips aren’t enough to keep your philodendron happy, you might want to look into getting a cool mist humidifier. (Like this one over on Amazon.)
This will increase the humidity in the room as a whole, which will make it more hospitable for your plants.
If you want to get serious about keeping your humidity at a specific level for your plants, you could add a humidity controller (here is an example on Amazon) that will turn your humidifier on when the humidity drops and turn it back off when it gets back up to the right level.
Put Your Philodendron into a Terrarium
If you don’t want to use a humidifier, and if nothing else is working to keep the humidity at the right levels, a terrarium can be just the thing you need to keep your philodendron healthy.
A terrarium (in this sense) is a large glass case with a door on the front that you can put your plant in.
This acts as a combination of the other tips above and will create a semi sealed off climate with the perfect conditions for your tropical plants to grow in.
(This solves the problem of ideal humidity for plants vs ideal humidity for humans.)
This is best for smaller philodendrons, as large cases can get expensive, but they can make it easier to grow plants that would be otherwise nearly impossible to grow.
You can either set the pot in the terrarium or plant it in the case directly. In the latter case you would want to use a special soil designed for high humidity environments, like ABG Mix.
This is an example of a terrarium case over on Amazon, but you can probably pick them up at a lower cost at your local big box pet store. (Or anywhere that sells reptiles.)
How to Tell if Your Philodendron’s Humidity is Too Low
Finally, let’s cover a few signs that your humidity is too low and it is causing your plant to suffer.
The biggest sign that your humidity is too low is that the tips of your philodendron’s leaves are turning brown.
If you see your philodendron has browning leaf tips, you should check the humidity around your plant and try to increase it if possible.
There are other signs that might come up, such as brown leaves, yellow leaves or leaf edges, or wilting. These are more related to over or under watering than to humidity.
On heartleaf philodendrons, leaves that are growing smaller than normal can either be a sign of humidity that is too low or light that isn’t intense enough.
While you don’t want direct sunlight, if your heartleaf is growing smaller leaves, check that your humidity is correct, and if it is, try putting it under a medium light or bright light meant for growing plants.
Adjusting these two things will help your philodendron grow larger leaves again.