Question: In the winter, with the furnace being used, the air in our home tends to be very dry. What problems might this cause for my violets? How can I increase the humidity?
Answer: This can be a problem for many of us. Though they don’t need very humid, damp, conditions to thrive, violets won’t be happy when the air is very dry. At relative humidity levels below 30% or so, they, and you, can become uncomfortable. Symptoms can include premature bud loss, or smaller than usual blooms, or brownish edges to blooms and foliage. We’ve also notice that leaves on many varieties will tend to “spoon” (edges cupping upwards) under very dry conditions. Keeping plants properly watered can be a problem too, since so much moisture is quickly evaporated from the leaf and soil surfaces.
If one grows enough plants, lack of humidity is rarely a problem. Since water evaporates from the soil and the plants themselves, grouping enough of them together increases the humidity for all of them. If this isn’t possible, or isn’t enough, another solution is to place the plants on a damp surface which will evaporate water and increase humidity. This might mean placing plants on a wet tray of gravel. The gravel serving to keep the pots above the water level. Watering plants with capillary mats also provides additional humidity as water is evaporated from the wet blankets. Using a community tray to wick water a number of plants does the same. Of course, if you’re just as uncomfortable as your violets, using a humidifier, or installing one on your furnace, might be the best idea.