You see it everywhere: humidity. This common term is used almost daily to describe the weather, how it affects you, and how it will affect your daily life. For plants, humidity functions the same. To learn more about controlling humidity in a room, how it affects your succulents, and what to do in particularly muggy weather, read on:
What is Humidity?
Humidity is the term used to explain how much water vapor is in the air. Typically, the more water, the higher the humidity– this is why humidity levels read 100% when it rains. Humidity is closely related to an environment’s dew point or the temperature at which water particles will condense into a liquid. Water vapor will condense into rain or dewdrops when an environment’s dew point reaches 100%.
Humidity scales with temperature. The higher the air temperature, the more humid an environment is likely to be. However, some areas, like arid deserts, have very low humidity despite the high temperatures. Humid weather, especially hot, humid weather, leaves the air completely saturated with water particles. In humans, this means our sweat won’t evaporate, and everything feels sticky. In plants, humidity determines how much water the leaves get to absorb.
High Humidity vs. Low Humidity
Typically, any value under 40% is considered low humidity. When you’re instructed to store something in “a cool, dry place,” 40% humidity is generally good. Most food products, medications, and things made from wood need low humidity to avoid warping or rotting. Higher humidity levels vary from person to person, but humidity over 50% is often considered high. Outdoors and humidity levels fluctuate throughout the day, so there isn’t much we can do to control them. Inside, humidity stays relatively the same.
Humidity and Your Succulents
Some plants love high humidity, but succulents aren’t among them. Since they are most often desert plants, succulents store water in their leaves and cannot absorb water through them. In addition, most succulents also prefer dry soil, which can only exist in low-humidity conditions.
1. What is the Ideal Humidity for Succulents?
Keep your home’s humidity levels at around 40-50% for succulents. Even though low humidity is good for these plants, they still need a little moisture in the air to thrive. If your space isn’t humid enough, a succulent may rely on water stored in its leaves to stay hydrated. In this case, just monitor your soil’s moisture levels and water accordingly.
2. Risks High Humidity Poses to Succulents
Succulents handle low humidity much better than high humidity. With extra water in the air, it’s easy for succulents to contract a number of infections or complications simply because of high moisture. Like an overwatered succulent, you may find a succulent sitting in a humid room struggling with root rot, fungal infections, or fungal gnats.
Does this mean that your succulents will immediately suffer on a humid summer day? No. Just because succulents don’t like high humidity, they can still tolerate it for short periods.
Are there Succulents that Can Tolerate High Humidity?
In addition to tolerating high humidity in short bursts, several types of succulents can tolerate high humidity for extended periods:
- Aeoniums. These succulents come in several varieties from all over the world and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. Look into your USDA agricultural zone to determine which Aeonium is a match for your environment.
- Sedum. Like the Aeonium, members of the Sedum family come from all over the world and in many different forms. Some varieties of Sedum even prefer moist soil.
- Crassula. Members of the Crassula family are quite picky about their soil moisture but don’t care much about the air. These succulents can handle humid summers.
- Kalanchoe. Although they’re considered succulents, Kalanchoe succulents are more often compared to houseplants. Like houseplants, these succulents can tolerate a wider range of humidity levels due to their thinner leaves.
Although they aren’t technically succulents, air plants also make excellent high-humidity companions. These houseplants don’t need any soil and instead absorb water through the air from their roots. Air plants are also one of the few plants you can effectively water via misting.
How to Control the Humidity of a Room
Even though an indoor climate is much easier to control than an outdoor one, there’s still a chance you’ll encounter an especially stuffy day or two. In this case, it’s time to lower the area’s humidity ourselves. The best way to lower a room’s humidity is to use a dehumidifier. However, if you don’t have a dehumidifier, consider lowering the room's temperature with air conditioning. You can also circulate air with fans to further lower the humidity of a room as well.
See more about How Can Air Circulation Helps Your Succulents