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When you’re faced with high humidity levels indoors, the first idea is usually to get a dehumidifier. While it’s a great piece of equipment, there is a greener and cheaper option in the form of plants. Dehumidifying plants also add to the aesthetics of the house and are generally maintenance-free.
Plants absorb humidity through the process of foliar acceptance in which they absorb any dewdrops, moisture and fog on their leaves and move them into the rest of the plant. Most plants carry out foliar acceptance although the best for an indoor environment include peace lilies, palms, Boston ferns, spider plants, orchids and many others.
Ideally, you need at least one plant for every 9.29 square meters (100 square feet) of floor space. When choosing the plants that absorb humidity, consider the type of plant, the amount of space you have and how to care for the plant. While some need little care, others are quite delicate. Others may take up too much space to make them unworthy of the dehumidification process.
Best Plants That Absorb Humidity
The plants you can use to reduce humidity indoors fall into various categories such as xerophytes and epiphytes. They include the following:
1. Peace Lilies
Peace lilies are among the best dehumidifying plants given the high amounts of moisture they absorb from the air. Even when watered as needed, peace lilies still have a high rate of moisture uptake through their glossy leaves.
Besides dehumidifying the indoors, peace lilies add beauty to the room. They are also great at purifying indoor air by removing pollutants from it. Peace lilies need very little sunlight hence suited to indoor conditions.
The downside to peace lilies is that they are a bit toxic hence need to be watched over if you have pets and kids around.
Another plant that will help reduce the moisture indoors is the palm tree. Specifically, the reed and areca palms offer the best dehumidification as they absorb large amounts of moisture while also absorbing pollutants such as formaldehyde from your home.
When taking care of these plants, you are needed to provide them with just enough sunlight since too much of it burns their leaves. Also, provide them with lots of water. This won’t reduce their foliar uptake rate.
Other types of palms you can use include reed palm, bamboo palm, and lady palm.
3. Spider Plants
The spider plant has curvy leaves which make it beautiful and is one of the most easily managed indoor plants. It needs little sunlight and other care procedures. Besides its beauty, it also absorbs indoor contaminants and lots of moisture from the air.
Palms and cactus plants fall into a group of plants called xerophytes. These plants are hardy and can survive in conditions with very little water. One way cacti adapt to these conditions is by having hairy leaves which absorb large amounts of moisture from the air.
You can get cactus plants in different sizes from small desk-sized ones to large ones you can place in the corner.
5. Boston Fern
Boston ferns (and most other ferns and epiphytes) absorb lots of moisture from the air around them. So much so that you will need to provide some moisture for them in the winter when the air dries up.
They are quite easy to maintain with keeping their soils wet and providing enough moisture indoors among the most important points to practice.
Orchids are another type of epiphytes which helps keep the air indoors free of excessive moisture. Epiphytes are plants that survive on other plants or objects they grow on. Some orchids also have very beautiful flowers and can be put into pots as small as a cup then placed on your desk or large pots.
Like ferns, keep them hydrated and the air humid in the winter.
Tillandsia are small succulent plants growing in a bushy structure. They can do with both low and high amounts of indirect sunlight. Their high moisture uptake makes them a great alternative to dehumidifiers.
You should water the plant at least 2 to 3 times each week to keep them healthy. Those plants can also help in reducing the amount of water collected by a dehumidifier at home.
8. English Ivy
The English Ivy is a plant you can place anywhere in the room from the floor to the window and even the ceiling. It requires little sunlight and some water to keep its soil damp. Its main benefit, however, is the high rate of foliar uptake. It’ll thus reduce the amount of indoor moisture by a significant value.
9. Mother In-Law’s Tongue
This plant is one of the best for bathrooms and other high-humidity areas. This is because it absorbs high levels of moisture from the air and can withstand high temperatures and low humidity.
“Sansevieria trifasciatas can be feasibly applied to absorb humidity in the small type residences. to 95% by night and by morning (Feriadi and Wong, 2004)“
10. Zanzibar Gem
You may find the plant in different names such as emerald palm, eternity plant, aroid palm, Zuzu plant or ZZ. It is one of the hardiest plants as it can withstand extreme temperatures, high humidity, low light and low water levels. You can only water the plants about four times a year.
Other plants in this category include Cast Iron Plant, Bird’s Nest Fern, Reed Palm, Pothos, Baby’s Tear, Calathea, Dracaena, Aloe Vera, Azalea, Begonia, Bromeliads, Fiddle-Leaf Fig, Snake Plants, Birds of Paradise, Philodendron and many others.
Factors to consider when choosing indoor plants
Before going for any plants that absorb humidity, you should consider the following aspects:
1. Humidity levels
If you have high levels of humidity, you will either need more plants, bigger plants or more efficient plants to reduce them. Besides that, the main sources of humidity in the home are usually the bathroom and kitchen. For this reason, you should place the plants either in these locations or close to them.
2. Toxicity and general safety levels
Some plants are toxic and should not be placed in areas where children and pets can access it. If you can’t hang them from the ceiling, window or other such location, don’t have them in the first place given the risk they pose.
3. Temperature levels
The indoor plants you choose should withstand the temperatures of the rooms you choose. The bathroom and kitchen have different temperatures to each other and to other rooms as well. Choose plants that can withstand these temperatures.
4. Amount of lighting
You should match the amount of light to the plants such that they can thrive in the sections of the house you choose. Corridors and bathrooms will have less light than living rooms for example.
5. The amount of space available
The size of the plant you choose should determine where you place them in the house or office. Knowing the growth habits of the plants will help you determine how big the plant will grow and how much space you will need.
If you can manage to provide the right conditions for the plants, you can get them for your house to reduce humidity.
Advantages of using plants that absorb humidity
The two options you have on your hands when it comes to dealing with moisture control indoors are plants and dehumidifiers. When choosing the two, you should go for plants due to the following benefits:
1. They cost less
Plants are both cheap to acquire and maintain compared to dehumidifiers. You won’t need to power them up, service them or call in an expert to maintain them. Most plants on our list need no more than a little sunlight each day and watering.
2. They are natural
The plants you use to dehumidify your house won’t add any pollutants into the home’s air. While most modern dehumidifiers are environment-friendly, they add one or two pollutants to the home. Only the poisonous plants can harm the home dwellers.
3. They are quiet
Unlike dehumidifiers, plants don’t emit a sound when working. They will work no matter the time of day and at roughly the same rate throughout.
4. Less maintenance
With plants, you don’t need to place them close to a power source or even set and adjust the settings every now and again. Even when dehumidifiers are put on automatic settings, they may not always create the most comfortable environment indoors like plants do.
5. Plants are beautiful even indoors
Most of the dehumidifying plants mentioned above have very beautiful features from the flowers to the stems and the plant as a whole. The look of a Boston fern in your corner gives the place a natural and relaxed look and so does a flowering peace lily.
6. They clean the air
Besides the uptake of moisture from the building, most plants that absorb humidity will also absorb pollutants and odors thus creating a fresh environment. Most dehumidifiers only reduce the moisture indoors without freshening up the air.
7. They protect the building and people
By absorbing the excessive moisture, plants also protect the building by preventing the buildup of mold and mildew. In most buildings with excessive moisture, you might sense a musty smell from the growth of mold and mildew. These two weaken walls and are quite ugly as well. As for the people, high humidity causes respiratory problems while mold and mildew cause contaminations.
These reasons are enough to get a plant or a few of them for your house in humid areas or during the humid seasons.
Disadvantages of using plants that absorb humidity
The good aspects about using plants to absorb moisture include the following:
1. Some are poisonous
Plants like peace lilies and a few others with a high humidity absorption rate can be poisonous to both pets and human beings. If you can’t hang them away from them, you’re better off not using them.
2. Some require delicate maintenance
A majority of the plants on our list need very little maintenance. However, some may require specific conditions such as the amount of sunlight per day, the amount of water they need and even the temperatures they can survive in. Given that most of them are tropical plants, they may not survive in extremely cold areas.
3. Take up space
On average, a plant will occupy more space than a dehumidifier. Worse still, it’ll keep growing and acquire an unpredictable shape. This can be inconveniencing at times.
You should consider the pros and cons of using plants as dehumidifiers before getting yourself some. In general, they’re better at reducing indoor humidity than dehumidifiers given the advantages above.