How to increase humidity for houseplants (without a humidifier)

Humidity is very important for indoor plants. Many house plants are tropical plants and naturally grow in a warm, humid environment. While the air temperature inside our homes may be perfect for them, sometimes the air is way too dry for their liking. This is a bigger problem in winter when the heating system is pumping in dry air constantly! To make your plants happy you'll want to add moisture to the air. A humidity tray is the perfect answer!

Humidity tray for plants

I know a lot of people run humidifiers inside their houses in winter, and that's a great option too. However, not everybody has particularly dry air, so a humidifier might be overkill. Plants can grab moisture out of the air so placing the source right next to them is all that's really needed. Plus there are more decorative ways to add moisture!

How to increase the humidity for houseplants

There are several option for adding humidity near plants and they're all on the smaller side, so they don't take up too much space! The options I use regularly are:

Pebble tray for plants

I'm going to start with the cheapest, easiest and most customizable one, the humidity tray. All you'll need is a container, some rocks and water. You can use any shallow bowl, saucer, cute decorative tray or small dish that you like.

I picked up some 'river rocks' at the Dollar Tree. They also have glass marbles of various shapes and sizes. Make sure to check your water level frequently and rinse the rocks off when changing water. Standing water tends to get a little funky and it's best to have clean water. Regular tap water is fine. 

Called a pebble tray because some people use pea gravel in them. If you do use small pebbles, fill the bowl at least an inch deep.

Some people like to create a large pebble tray and set the plant on top of it. This is fine as long as the water doesn't touch the bottom of the pot. You don't want it's feet to get wet! I like the larger rocks for this method, though feel free to experiment and see what works for you!

Small fountain with air plant on it for extra humidity

Water fountain near plants

A simple table top water fountain will help to add moisture to the air. I have my air plant sitting on the rocks in the fountain. It doesn't actually touch the water, but it seems to be the perfect environment for the air plant! Any fountain will do, though one that has an open tray for rocks or even just the water is better than one with a closed reservoir. 

Always check your water level before turning the fountain on and make sure to clean it according to it's directions on a regular basis. Old, funky water is bad for plants even if they're pulling it from the air!

I have This fountain from Ashland.

Stone Humidifiers near plants

These are porous clay balls that sit in a ceramic bowl. You add water to bowl and the ball soaks the water up and then the water evaporates into the room. Very Zen looking! I got mine for a gift and just love them. As you can see, my orchid is sending up a new flower spike, so I would say it's quite happy with the stone humidifier being beside it! 

I honestly do not think they add enough moisture to be considered room humidifiers, but they definitely do the job when placed next to my rosemary plant in winter! Make sure to scrub inside the ball regularly as mold can build up in there. 

I have This set of 2 stone humidifiers

Stone humidifier near and orchid plant providing moisture

Misting plants

You can mist your plants daily to give them a burst of moisture. All you need is a spray bottle that can be set to a fine mist and some water. I forget though. I remember on Saturday when I do my watering but otherwise it's kind of hit or miss if it gets done! The downfall of misting is that it's temporary so it needs done daily.

I prefer to use a humidity tray, fountain or stone so the plant doesn't suffer when I forget to mist it. I check these when I do my weekly watering and refill or clean them then. Once a week is usually all the maintenance these need. 

Arranging your plants in groups can also help to increase the humidity. It also makes it easier to get them close to the humidity tray or other source of moisture. 

What plants need extra humidity?

  • Orchids
  • Ferns
  • Snake plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Fiddle leaf Fig
  • Rosemary
  • Peperomias
  • Monstera
  • Air plant
  • Spider plants
  • Lucky Bamboo (though they are often in their own dish of water and rocks)

...and pretty much any tropical foliage plant that they sell in stores. (For some reason certain big chain home repair stores that shall remain nameless like to label their plants as Tropical Foliage) If a plants natural environment is tropical then it probably likes high humidity!

Using one or more of these methods of adding humidity to the air should keep your plants happy even through the dry winter months!

Want more posts on indoor gardening? Click here for my other posts on houseplants and their care.


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  1. I have a hibiscus tree inside and it seems to need water every day. Which I usually do but some leaves are turning yellow. I am getting new leaves and it is blooming constantly. It sits on a roller base and I can see water in the base. How much should I give it daily. Its about 6 1/2 feet

    1. Yellow leaves are often caused by stress. Did anything change in it's environment lately? Water it till the water runs out into the base. The water should be gone after an hour or two. If there's still water in the tray, dump it out. They don't like to sit in water since the roots need air. Any chance it needs repotted?
      Hope that helps!