How humidity in the home affects indoor plants


The majority of indoor plant growers focus on lighting conditions, quality of the seeds, temperature as well as manure or fertilizers when looking to make the undertaking a success. While these are critical factors, most people tend to forget relative humidity and the role it plays in the growth, reproduction, and quality of their plants. The importance of maintaining optimal relative humidity especially when plants are placed away from their natural habitat and nurtured in a controlled environment like a house cannot be overstated.  Failure to do so will adversely affect their growth, reproduction, and ability to flourish. It also impacts negatively on some critical plant synthetic processes like transpiration, photosynthesis and respiration as explained below.

Effect on Transpiration

Transpiration denotes the process by which plants transport water from the roots to the leaves, where the excess is converted into vapor and released back to the environment. The extra moisture is released through stomata, which connotes small openings located on the underside of the leaves. The levels of humidity in a home affect how and when the indoor plants open or close the stomata. All plants use their stomata for respiration and transpiration. When the relative humidity is too high, the temperature inside the home becomes warm. This makes the plants to close their stomata and thus stop respiration.  The stomata remain closed until the temperatures drop. This means that the plants will have no means of breathing and thus they end up suffocating on their own transpired gases.

Reduced relative humidity levels affect plants adversely but in a totally different way. This is because the plants open their stomata, allowing them to lose water at a very high rate. When this happens, the roots will have to work harder and absorb more water from the soil to replenish the low moisture levels in the leaves. If, however, the soil doesn’t have enough moisture, the plant will dehydrate. This will, in turn, make the leaves turn brownish-yellow, crispy or even fall off. The best remedy is to constantly water the plants when the RH levels go down to extreme levels. A grower may also spray the leaves and flowers with water several times a day. They could also use a humidifier to reinstate optimal humidity in the indoor environment.

Influence on Photosynthesis and Translocation

Optimal relative home humidity is extremely important for plants, which is because they depend on water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to make their own food. When the humidity level is too high, the plants will have a difficult time producing or transporting the food. This, in turn, slows down their growth and they ultimately die. Like mentioned earlier, excessive humidity causes the temperatures to rise, and the plants close their stomata. The closing and opening of the stomata are again important because the plants use these tiny openings for respiration. When they are closed, the plants fail to harness carbon dioxide, which means that the plant won’t survive. Its, therefore, imperative that homeowners find ways to remove the excess moisture from their indoor environment by maintaining RH at optimal levels.

Contra wise, when the environment surrounding the plants become drier than the one inside the plant, the moisture in the plant cells begin to disperse to the atmosphere. While this is a normal process, things can deteriorate if the lost water is not being replaced at the same rate as its being lost. This is because plants use water to transport food in the form of glucose and minerals to other parts such as roots, stems, and branches. In other words, low humidity levels can adversely affect translocation in plants.

Effects on Quality

Excessive moisture in the atmosphere will not only lead to mold growth in a home, but it will also affect the quality of the indoor plants adversely. For instance, it can cause the mildew growth on the plant’s leaves and flowers, which is at best unsightly. This, however, occurs when the plants have been exposed to excessive moisture for an extended period. It is, therefore, imperative to use a dehumidifier to extract excess moisture from the indoor air. Low humidity, on the other hand, can adversely affect turgor pressure in plants and thus cause wilting, which makes them look sad and droopy.

Plants require moisture to thrive, reproduce and grow. As such, when placed away from their natural habitat, it is essential to provide them with the right amount of humidity as effectively as possible and for good reasons. Low or high moisture levels in their surrounding environment can affect their synthetic process including, photosynthesis and transpiration. It also affects their quality, making them lose their aesthetic appeal.