As a tropical plant everybody should know that pothos plants need a relatively high level of humidity to thrive, but should you mist your pothos plant to achieve this or are there better alternatives?
Misting your pothos is fine in most cases, but you shouldn’t rely on misting to provide the humidity that your pothos needs over the long term. This is because after misting most of the water evaporates quickly, making the increase in humidity short-lived and not very effective. Misting can also spread fungal diseases quickly.
Misting can also cause some issues if you either rely on it entirely to increase humidity or if you continue to mist when the humidity is already high enough.
- How Much Humidity Do Pothos Plants Need?
- How Much Does Misting Affect Humidity?
- How Can You Check The Humidity Around Your Pothos?
- Problems With Misting When The Humidity Is Already High
- Problems With Using Misting As The Only Source Of Humidity
- Better Alternatives To Misting
How Much Humidity Do Pothos Plants Need?
Pothos are native to Southeastern Asia and thrive in high humidity – around 60% is a good level for growth at home.
They can survive in much lower humidity, however, and are known for being one of the hardiest houseplants that you can own. My golden pothos has remained in good health despite the humidity being lower than 60% during certain months of the year, for example.
How Much Does Misting Affect Humidity?
Most places that sell houseplants will also sell misters as an extra, and I have been guilty of purchasing a mister myself for my houseplants.
While misting can be therapeutic and make you feel like you are caring for your plants, the increase in humidity is short-lived.
It’s difficult to put an exact number on the percentage increase in humidity, but it is negligible as the level does not increase for long enough for a pothos to really reap any benefits. After a while, most of the water will evaporate, and this happens even faster if the temperature is high or if there is direct sunlight.
You have to consider that in the wild, humidity in a jungle-like environment is supplemented by plentiful rainfall and the sheer amount of plants that are growing in close proximity. Simply misting your pothos at home really doesn’t come close to this.
How Can You Check The Humidity Around Your Pothos?
It can be difficult to judge the humidity inside your home, and it can also vary from room to room with places like the bathroom or kitchen tending to have higher humidity than places like the living or dining rooms.
Using a hygrometer is the best way to get an accurate reading of the humidity around your pothos. A hygrometer is a device that measures the amount of water vapor in the air to give you an accurate reading of the humidity.
Hygrometers are relatively inexpensive – usually costing between $15-$30 – and are worth buying if you own a few houseplants that rely on humidity. Place it close to your pothos and take humidity readings throughout the day to get an average.
Problems With Misting When The Humidity Is Already High
If you can create fairly humid conditions for your pothos then you should avoid misting them altogether.
Continuing to mist when the humidity is already quite high can cause problems by itself as the excess moisture will struggle to evaporate and can also spread (and cause) diseases and pest infestations.
Some pests, such as fungal gnats, are drawn to excess moisture.
If you continue misting in a high-humidity environment you will increase the likelihood of running into these types of pests, and others.
Misting can also spread pests around the plant and potentially onto nearby plants as well.
Bacteria and fungi need moisture to thrive, and if your pothos already has an issue with either of these misting will only spread this to other parts of the plant or other nearby plants. You can also promote the growth of bacteria and fungi if you keep misting when the humidity is high as moisture will be sat on the leaves for long periods of time.
Fungal and bacterial leaf spots are easy to notice, and if you do notice any then you should remove the infected leaves and treat the rest of the plant for the infection.
Problems With Using Misting As The Only Source Of Humidity
If the humidity in your home is lower than the ideal humidity for a pothos (around 60%) then you shouldn’t rely on misting by itself to solve the problem.
The main problem with relying on misting is that it is very hard to maintain the humidity as you will need to mist several times per day, and the amount of humidity that you generate depends on the temperature and sunlight so it’s hard to know how much of an impact it is really having.
This can create humidity levels well below the ideal 60%, which will negatively impact your pothos and lead to several symptoms:
Brown Leaf Edges
If you notice brown leaf edges on your pothos the most likely culprit is low humidity.
To combat this, increase the humidity (I’ll discuss the methods for this later) and trim any affected areas.
Low humidity caused by reliance on misting can cause the pothos to lose moisture, leading to a loss in turgidity.
Turgidity refers to the state of being swollen, and in terms of a plant due to high water content. If your pothos loses turgidity it will appear wilted. This is quite when the soil is underwatered as well.
Better Alternatives To Misting
If you’re looking for a solution for increasing humidity that will give a consistent increase without the negatives of misting then consider using a humidifier, pebble tray or simply placing your pothos close to other houseplants that also thrive in humid environments.
Humidifiers are probably the best option for increasing humidity levels, and there are several different types depending on your budget and preferences:
- Cool Mist – Cool mist humidifiers use a fan to release water droplets into the air. These are generally quite noisy due to the fan operation, but a lot of models optimise for low-noise operation so this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Ultrasonic – Ultrasonic humidifiers are the most expensive and use a vibrating plate to turn water into a fine mist. These are super quiet and easy to maintain.
- Warm Mist – These work simply by heating water until it boils, and achieve pretty much the same effect as a cool mist humidifier but cost more to run due to the heating element.
I’d typically only recommend investing in a humidifier if you have more than one plant that requires high humidity or if your climate has very low humidity levels.
A low-cost alternative to a humidifier is to use a pebble tray.
If you’re not familiar with the term, it simply means a tray that you fill with pebbles or small stones and water. You can then place your pothos on top of the pebbles so that it is out of the water, and the humidity will be increased around the plant due to the water below evaporating over time.
This is one of the reasons why pothos thrive in aquariums, as the humidity above a body of water is naturally higher.
Placing The Pothos Near To Other Plants
If you have a couple of other humidity-loving houseplants such as fiddle leaf figs or monsteras then you can group this close to your pothos to increase the humidity.
This happens as the plants form their own mini-climate as they transpire, increasing the local humidity in the area.