Plant Care

Is Air Conditioning Bad for Plants?

Plants next to air conditioner in a living room

You may like throwing on the AC when it gets hot and muggy outside, but how does your plant feel about air conditioning? Many plants enjoy and thrive in hot and hazy weather, especially tropical plants like money trees and dracaenas that are native to humid jungles near the equator. The cold, dry air that’s comfortable for us is unfortunately not as beneficial for many houseplants.

Here are a few signs that your plants are suffering from the cool, conditioned air in your home:

  • Your plant is rapidly dropping leaves or petals
  • Your plant’s leaves are fading or turning yellow
  • Your plant’s leaves are turning brown around the edges
  • Your plant is beginning to droop
  • Your plant is beginning to dry out
  • Your flowering plant is not flowering anymore

The good news is that you don’t have to turn off your AC or risk giving up your indoor gardening altogether — here are a few different ways you can create a more favorable environment for your plant collection.

How to Protect Your Plants From Air Conditioning

Bird of Paradise next to desk and chair in living room with air conditioning vent

Choose a Better Location for Your Plants

It’s critical to move your plant away from air conditioning vents, as the direct blast of cold air dehydrates your plants and can even damage plant cells. In fact, the same can be said for plants that are placed near windows or doors that are frequently opened during the colder months of the year.

Try moving your plants to warmer rooms, as long as those new locations also provide the lighting conditions needed for that specific plant. Areas in your home such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms tend to be more humid.

Boost Ambient Humidity Levels Around Your Plants

Once you’ve moved your plant to a better location, it can help to increase the indoor humidity level around your plant to help it thrive. Air conditioning can be very drying, and the ideal humidity level for houseplants is 40 to 60 percent higher than the humidity level in most homes. Though, it’s not practical or helpful to keep your entire home that humid. In addition to misting your plants regularly, there are several options to make your plants happy by keeping the dry air at bay.

Mist Your Plants

This will raise the humidity around the plant temporarily, so it’s best to mist every day. With our fully-rechargeable continuous Mister, you can mist your plants each day with ease.

Never mist plants with hairy leaves, such as African violets, purple hearts, and streptocarpella, to name a few. The “hairs” on the leaves hold water in place, encouraging disease and leaving spots on the foliage.

Refer to our A-Z Plant Care Guides to learn whether it is recommended to mist the plants in your collection.

Use Pebble Trays

Place a layer of pebbles in a tray, add water until the pebbles are not quite covered, and set the potted plant on top. The pebbles hold the plant above the water so the roots aren’t sitting in water. As the water in the tray evaporates, it increases the moisture in the air around the plant.

Group Plants Together

Create a pocket of high humidity by placing several plants in a group. If possible, put a dish of water in the center of the plants to further increase the amount of water vapor in the air.

Use a Humidifier

This is one of the most effective options that are beneficial for plants and humans alike. Adding humidity to dry rooms will keep your plants moisturized and prevent you from developing dry skin.

Transition Your Houseplants Outdoors for the Summer

Shop large and extra large Bloomscape plants

Almost all of the indoor foliage plants we carry in our online plant store can live outside for the summer — and they’ll be happier for it! But be sure to pay attention to the weather report. It’s safe to move your plants outside when the outdoor temperatures stay consistently above 50 degrees. If nighttime temps fall below 50 degrees, bring your plants in for the night.

Outdoor Lighting for Indoor Plants

The main thing to consider is the intensity of the outdoor sunlight in your backyard, porch, or patio when placing your plants outdoors. It’s best to place your plants in locations that mimic their indoor lighting needs and make sure you take care to acclimate your plant to being outdoors.

Start by placing your plant in a shady area for a few hours each day and slowly increase the outdoor time over 7 to 10 days. You can expose your plant to the morning sun after about five days. Never allow your indoor foliage plants to sit in full, direct sunlight as this can cause stress to the plant.

Even plants that can handle high light, such as birds of paradise, sansevierias, ponytail palms, succulents, and cacti, need time to adjust to the intensity of the full outdoor sunshine after living indoors. So even if they can be placed in direct sunlight when located indoors, be sure to fully acclimate your sun-loving plants before placing them outside full-time.

Outdoor Watering Recommendations for Indoor Plants

The same watering principles for your plant apply outdoors: Regularly place your finger into the soil about 2 to 3 inches, and if it feels dry, water thoroughly. Start by checking the soil every day as some plants may require more water than usual once moved outdoors. Of course, your plants will also be able to enjoy the rainfall, but remember to remove saucers so that water can freely drain. And as always, keep an eye out for turbulent weather — high winds can topple or damage your plant.

Shop Watering and Humidity Boosting Tools