Humidity is the quantity of water vapor in the air. The higher it is, the more water is present in the air. Since we interact with air for our entire life, humidity can affect our quality of life.
In this article, I am going to show you why you should care about humidity, and what you can do to manipulate indoor humidity levels in your house in a natural and effective way.
There are multiple ways to tackle the issue, but I find the natural one superior to most others. Plants are extremely useful not only in lowering indoor humidity, but they can also absorb toxins and contaminants from the air.
Plus, they are pretty and will improve how our rooms look. Win-win.
If you’ve ever felt the symptoms I’m listing in this article, perhaps it’s time to think more seriously about humidity.
Why Care About Humidity?
Humidity can affect our life’s quality, because our body interacts with air 24/7. When air’s moisture is too high or too low, our breathing is affected, which can have consequences on our energy levels, as well as comfort.
What we care about is relative humidity, which is the amount of water vapor in the air compared to how much water vapor the air could contain if it was saturated.
Let’s see what actually happens when humidity levels are imbalanced.
Effects of High Humidity
High humidity means indoor relative humidity levels above 50 percent. When mugginess levels start rising above 50 percent you will notice your body giving you various signals. If you start feeling any of the symptoms in the following lists you might be living in a house where humidity levels are too high.
- The temperature feels much higher than it is
- The body’s cooling system stops working, increasing risk of heatstroke
- You feel lethargic and always tired
- Breathing becomes harder
- You feel cramps in your muscles
There are other health hazards that can happen because of high humidity. Mold thrives in humid environments, and so do dust mites. Both are not only very annoying to deal with, but they also impact your breathing.
Effects of Low Humidity
Low humidity happens when the relative humidity inside your house is lower than 30%. Air dryness can cause all sort of issues to our body, and it’s also dangerous for wood furniture.
Here are the effects of low humidity:
- Your skin and hair feel dry and uncomfortable
- Eyes become more vulnerable
- Your airways are constantly sore
- You have allergic-like reactions
- It can cause skin irritation
- Dry air causes furniture to crackle, bend, and even break in more extreme circumstances
9 Plants That Lower Humidity
There are two types of plants that can manipulate your environment’s humidity:
- Those that absorb humidity
- Those that increase it
This list is about plants that absorb humidity. If you’re having issues with high mugginess levels in your house, consider adding these to a couple of rooms to have them absorb air moisture and reducing humidity.
A big advantage of plants that rely on absorbing moisture from the air is that most of them are very resilient and will survive just fine without needing you to water them regularly, since they get most of their nutrients from the air.
These plants are perfect for people with busy lives who still want to enjoy a little green in their house, while also increasing air quality.
Tillandsias are a great choice for any house, because they are easy to care for. Tillandsias evolved to adapt to many environments, and they can even grow on rocks and seashells, they don’t need soil. You can afford to forget to water them every now and then too (as long as the air isn’t too dry), so they are a great choice for people with busy lives.
2. Spider Plant
Another great choice for those who need to lower indoor humidity is the Spider Plant. Like Peace Lilies, these plants don’t need that much care and can survive just fine even if you forget to water them every now and then.
And like Peace Lilies, they absorb other contaminants from the air, making them an excellent choice for any house.
They can survive just fine in low light conditions too, and their maintenance is extremely low. I recommend these to anyone.
Cacti are known for their ability to grow in the harshest conditions like deserts. The way they can live in such climates is thanks to their ability of absorbing moisture from the air, instead of getting it from the ground.
Like every other plant on this list, cacti don’t require much maintenance, but unlike Spider Plants, they do require a lot of sunlight during the summer. Luckily these plants enter a dormant state during winter, so they won’t need nearly as much sun during the coldest months.
4. Zanzibar Gem
This plant is super pretty and requires almost zero maintenance. Plus, it’s exceptional at absorbing moisture from the air that surrounds it. It can thrive in any condition, no matter what. Even if you place it in a spot with low exposure to sunlight and forget to water it it’s going to survive for a while.
So why is it so low on this list? Well, unlike the other plants it exclusively absorbs humidity, whereas herbage like Spider Plants also absorb other contaminants from the air, making Zanzibar Gems a little less useful.
They are still great if you only care about lowering humidity though.
Another plant that is exceptional at absorbing moisture from the air while needing little care, the Pothos is so sturdy that you might completely forget about it for months without killing it.
This plant is fine with low light levels and little watering, if any, making it a solid choice for anyone looking to lower humidity in their rooms.
Orchids absorb moisture from the air around them, making them a solid choice to lower humidity levels indoor. They also look great, which is always a plus.
Unlike other plants on this list though they require a little more maintenance: you have to water them once a week, they require direct exposure to sunlight, and you have to fertilize them weekly.
However, the end results of correct care will be great. Orchids are pretty.
7. Snake Plant
Snake Plant is a solid choice for any house looking to reduce indoor humidity levels. What makes it so great is that not only it absorbs moisture from the air, it also absorbs typical household toxins such as formaldehyde (a chemical agent most commonly found in house cleaning products and cosmetics).
Snake Plants are sturdy: they can grow fine even with low light exposure, although it will be a slower process than if they add access to more bright environments. Avoid direct sunlight exposition though.
Another flower that thrives in moist environments, cyclamens are a great choice to add some color to your house. They also have a pleasant scent, which makes them even more useful.
What separates cyclamen from other plants is their life cycle: this plant is dormant during the summer, where you need to place it in a cool spot away from sunlight. During the winter you should place it in a bright room, but avoid direct exposition to sunlight.
9. English Ivy
What’s cool about the English Ivy is that it grows downwards, so you can place it in higher locations and enjoy its benefits.
English Ivy is not only great at absorbing air moisture, but it also cleans up the air from toxins present in the air, such as formaldehyde, and it also helps you combating mold.
Much like most other plants on this list, the English Ivy doesn’t need much maintenance, and doesn’t need that much light either, making it a great choice for many different homes.
5 Plants to Avoid
There are plants that do the opposite of the ones on this list: they release moisture into the air. When shopping for plants to add to your house, avoid the following plants if your aim is to reduce indoor humidity:
- Spider plant
- Jade plant
- Rubber plant
- Peace lily
- Corn plant
These plants will increase air humidity through a process called transpiration, through which they release water vapor through their leaves.
Relative humidity can be a problem in some houses. My suggestion is to measure it with a hygrometer, and then figure out the best course of action to deal with it.
Naturally, the more of these plants you add to your house, the lower your indoor humidity will be. The issue is that you risk going overboard, and turning the air too dry, which is not only unpleasant, but it can also kill most plants on this list.
There is always a perfect balance to strike, so my suggestion is to start small: get one or two plants from this list and see if they are enough. If they are not, add more until you reach your desired humidity.
If you’re wondering why you would go through the effort of manipulating humidity with plants when dehumidifiers exist, there are various reasons. Mainly, the fact that natural remedies are always better than electronic ones. Plus, humidifiers require more maintenance than any plant on this list.
So what are you waiting for? Add these plants to your home today, and enjoy greater air quality!