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Can plants be natural humidifiers for human comfort?

In my so many years of living on this planet I haven’t heard people talk about humidity much. Or I haven’t paid attention. As our cities get covered in concrete; exposed earth, grass, and tree cover reduces and thus increases the ambient temperature. The conversation on humidity is imperative now. You might wonder what’s temperature rise got to do with humidity. The more we create artificial environment around us, the more we need to find ways to replicate nature for comfortable living. After all we are still humans. One of the important factors for comfort is the level of humidity among other things. And therefore, the need for right amount of humidity cannot be stressed enough.

Indoor plants can help. Among the amazing things that plants do for us, one of the thing is balancing humidity. Imagine on a hot afternoon of May 25, you are walking down the road, you are scorched with heat coming from all sides and you feel like you are in an oven. Then you come across a park with grass cover and big trees. How does that make you feel? Do you feel the temperature suddenly dropped to 24 degrees? You stand under the tree, how does that make you feel? That’s exactly what the combination of the soil, the trees, the grass do, it absorbs the heat and gives out moisture in the air around it and thus create a cooler atmosphere.

All you need to do is replicate nature inside of your home to the extent that you can. Plants with large leaves due to the process of evapotranspiration gives out more moisture and oxygen in the surrounding air in indoor space. Few large leaf plant will instantly change the weather inside your home.

Advantages of the right amount of humidity:

  • Relieve dry skin/ throat

  • Soothes dry sinuses

  • Prevent nosebleed

  • Reduces likelihood of infections & allergies. Remember how your ENT tells you to use a vaporiser?

Now that we understand the importance of the right humidity let’s look at how we can use plants to create that natural humidity.

Top Humidifying Plants:

  1. Dieffenbachia family: also know as dumb cane. Not so dumb. Absorbs CO2 and has a transpiration rate of 7.

  2. Aglaonema family: similar to its close cousin the Dieffenbachia, also absorbs toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.

  3. Philodendrons: they come in all sizes, go for the bigger leaf variety. Transpiration rate is 6.

  4. Areca Palms: Areca palms love a bright spot. Transpiration rate 10.

  5. Rubber plant: Transpiration rate 7.

  6. Schefflera: Transpiration rate 7. They add character to any place with their flower shaped leaves.

  7. Rhapis palm: transpiration rate 8. Does well in low light condition as well. Great for narrow spaces as well.

  8. Cane palm: Transpiration rate 9. Great for narrow spa

  9. Peacelily: transpiration rate of 8. Their white modified leaf that looks like flower adds drama. They are also known for absorbing toxins from air.

Evapotranspiration is the sum of evaporation from the land/ soil surface plus transpiration from plants. That is why plants that love moist soil is more effective than others in adding humidity to surrounding air. These are few plants that I shortlisted from the larger list that are more relevant to Delhi summer.

I hope this was helpful. Do write in with comments or suggestions.

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