inexpensive plants that need very high humidity

clibanarius(z8GA)February 15, 2008

Okay, I know this sounds like an odd request, but what inexpensive, readily available plants have people found to quickly show damage unless they were kept under very high humidity? Rex begonias seem to do this for me, but they're not exactly cheap or readily available here, and really they've done better with the dryness than I would have expected this winter. I need a plant that really reliably shows its unhappiness with the ambient humidity (actually more than one, hence the inexpensive and readily available parts).

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

Cheers,

Alan

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birdsnblooms

Episcias..Home Depot sells some inexpensive types, (in small pots.)
Fittonia (Siver Nerve Plant and the red version)
Pink Polka Dot plants (Hypoestes) are fairly inexpensive and both require high humidity..

What do you consider inexpensive.. Are you doing some type of experiment, Alan? Toni

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 4:26PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Sounds like a science project to me....

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 5:46PM
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mr_subjunctive

Agreed on Fittonia and Hypoestes. We carry both in 3-inch pots for $3ish; I've seen both elsewhere for more or less the same size/price.

Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum) need high humidity but I don't know whether they're likely to be cheap. The last time I remember seeing one, it was about $7 in a 4-inch pot.

Some Pilea varieties need high humidity, but I'm not sure how intense the need is. They're generally pretty cheap when you can find them (again, about $3 for a 3-inch pot).

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 6:31PM
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clibanarius(z8GA)

Well, here's the story. There are a number of outrageous plants that I'd love to have in the house, but they're expensive humidity cravers, and sad to say I don't see a greenhouse in our near future. So I want to play around a bit, see if I can find a way to keep both the plants and my wife happy in our not-so-greenhouse. I do happen to be a scientist by trade, so I want to do some experiments, but I don't really want to be using plants that cost $30-50 a pop as my guinea pigs! Hence the request. Interestingly, I've had both Fittonia and Hypoestes on our patio here (southeast GA), and they did very well until the cold got 'em. Not indoors, though; thought the Hypoestes needed more light than I could give indoors, and turns out our cats, who otherwise have ignored the many plants I've scattered around the house, can't get enough Fittonia!

Cheers,

Alan

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 10:50PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Clibanarius...
Polka dot plant is 100% hardy in Zone 8B. I have it in my flowerbeds. In fact, it got invasive and I am trying to get it OUT of my flowerbeds.

I used to be in zone 8B, but, then they re-wrote the zonal maps based on climate data collected over a 10+ year span, they decided I was in 9A due to Global Climate Change. I still garden outdoors, however, like I am an 8B. And Polka Dot Plant is still 100% hardy here. You can't kill it. Plant it out. Believe me.

Fittonia...I don't think it requires a lot of humidity as much as it requires warmth. Fittonias are cheap here, about $3 a pop. I have several in my greenhouse. The winter temps there are 50F at the lowest, humidity can vary.

Pilea is root hardy in zone 8B. I throw cuttings from my greenhouse on the compost pile in Summer, it freezes in Winter, and in Spring I have Pilea growing in the compost pile. Its not that touchy.

Maidenhair ferns are 100% hardy in zone 8B and 9

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 11:44PM
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clibanarius(z8GA)

It's entirely possible my potted hypoestes died back, but didn't actually die, after a couple hard freezes, but since this project deals specifically with growing plants indoors, the temperature hardiness (or lack thereof) is less of an issue than humidity requirements. Our local WalMart had a batch of cheap Episcias not too long ago (well, too long ago for this project, as, true to form, the staff couldn't keep them alive for more than a couple of weeks). Our Lowes usually has Hypoestes; most web sites comment on its love of high humidity, so maybe this is a good choice. It's funny, though, I just can't recall any obvious signs of humidity stress in this plant. Anyone know what it does when the air's too dry?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 1:39PM
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birdsnblooms

Alan, there are a good number, in fact, numerous online nurseries that sell inexpensive plants..The only problem, (which may or may not be a problem) is most will arrive small..Small meaning anywhere from 7"-1'..
You don't have to spend anywhere near 30.00 per plant...My goodness, my dh would shoot me if that were the case, and my collection would be a LOT smaller than it is..lol
BTW, which plants are you craving for? If you name some plants, I'm sure someone here, if possible, can direct you to a source..

Actually, Alan, I'm really not certain Hypoestes stresses out without high humidity..although they don't require direct sun, in fact, blazing sunlight would burn the poor guys, they do so much better in summer..(including indoors) So, if it's not light, what other factor would beget them to do better in summer than arid winters?? Of course, fresh air helps, too, so that may be the answer??? Toni

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 3:52AM
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clibanarius(z8GA)

Well, to be fair, I'm sure I'd be nailed for burning $50 on a plant even if I could keep it happy! But some of those Anthuriums are pretty darn tempting.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 10:39AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Coffee plant and stromanthe go downhill fast without humidity.

I'm still not quite sure what your objective is (perhaps an underhanded attempt to get the spouse to buy into the greenhouse idea? Lord knows, I've thought of many plans to do that myself...)

Is setting up a dedicated growing area (closet? spare room? part of the basement?) an option, so you can just use a humidifier? For about $40 to $80, you can add all the humidity you want. I like the Holmes no-filter version with the digital humistat myself.

Or you can content yourself with the many plants that will do nicely without caring about the humidity levels at all. Why make it hard on yourself?

What are some of the expensive plants you are craving?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 1:10PM
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clibanarius(z8GA)

Hmm, well, although we are having ongoing greenhouse vs. fence-so-she-can-get-dog discussions, that's not quite what I'm after, at least not consciously! Unfortunately, I've also been unsuccessful at so much as sequestering a room/closet for higher humidity needs. And frankly, I'm starting to think the humidity in our house isn't that bad, as I've got a couple of Stromanthes Tricolor and 3 Calathea rosea-picta, and they're all doing fine, and a C. medallion that with some minimal leaf damage that I think reflects my keeping it in dirt and forgetting to water it enough. The only plant with what I assume are signs of water damage is a Rex Begonia (browned and somewhat shriveled leaf edges on new growth). Anyhoo, I enjoy tackling problems like this, looking for new ways to do things. And taking a tour (I mean spanning several evenings) of the glasshouseworks website, I clearly have an affinity for the more outrageous and tropical greenhousey type plants. So maybe, hopefully, a greenhouse is in my future, but meanwhile I'm intrigued at the prospect of growing and showing off these plants in my regular living space.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 10:08PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Well considering my indoor humidity is often 20% or even less, and that my pot of Hypoestes is still growing, I don't really know how stressful low humidity is for it. I always found ferns to be touchy about low humidity -- especailly the fine/lacy leafed types.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 11:18PM
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birdsnblooms

Watergal..Lord knows, "I've thought of many plans to do that myself." LMAO..Keep thinking, something will pop up. Read into it what you wish..(S) Family Forum..

Alan, 50.00 for an Anthuruium??? My goodness..I hope it's one happy plant.. Would you like to see some high-loving-humidity plants..check out Natural Selections Exotics. She sells some beautys, but the cost is higher than most plants I can afford. (I love her sales)
If your Roseo-picta and Stromanthe tricolor are doing well, then yes, I'd say the humidity in your house is higher than average. Do you have a humidifer? How about a Hygrometer? You can find inexpensive and accurate hygrometers at Ace or most hardware stores..Buy a couple to place in separate rooms, and to compare temps/humidity..Every so often I set mine (3) in the fridge to test for accuracy..
2 of the 3 are more than 10-years-old, bought at Ace Hardware @ 7.00 each. The third was bought online. I have a small gh, 8x12 in the back yard, so this hygrometer does its job..the hygrometer details indoor, outdoor and green house temps and humidity..if temps dip under 40 or exceed 100 an alarm beeps.
WaterGal also suggested a Coffee tree..great idea..A couple more humidity-loving plants to experiment with are Gingers and Heliconia.
Or Musa/banana trees..There's some lovely plants around, especially the blood leaf bananas.
Alan, are you interested in plants that bloom/fruit? Certain height? Trees/bushes? Fragrant?
I'm certain you and your significant other can work something out..Living in Il, our yard size is so-so..not huge nor small..Like I said, I have a gh out back..we also have an English Mastiff and a new addition, Coco, a Shih Tzu..There's room for everyone..Ppl, dogs, and plants..Since you're in GA, you can get by w/a decent sized gh, and if you're in the southern part of the state, the additional gas cost shouldn't cost an arm and leg.
If you decide to get a gh, research..don't jump at the first one you see..

Paul, ferns are another great idea..
20% humidity?? Wow guy, you need a humidifer, mister, indoor fountain and trays..LOL..J/K of course..I'd literally have breathing problems at 20%..
Perhaps the Hypoestes doesn't need much humidity..How does yours do in winter? Do you pinch/prune to keep compact?? Toni

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:34AM
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clibanarius(z8GA)

I may have my subjects, unexpectedly. I went to convert my Begonia Rex 'Thor' and discovered it was actually nine different plants stuffed together! Not unlike my 25 dwarf scheffleras, also purchased from Walmart, mentioned elsewhere. Also like those scheffs, this (these!) begonias have seemed happy enough (except for what I assumed was burned edges due to low humidity), and though they didn't grow too fast, I did get very nice blooms from at least one of them this winter.

Anyways, since they seem to be the most sensitive of my current plants to dry air, and I've got nine of them, I might as well use them to try out superabsorbent gels (to keep humidity levels higher longer) and anti-transpirants (to reduce water loss) on the leaves.

By the way, Toni, Natural Selection Exotics does have some great, and pricey, plants! Thanks for the tip, if only for window-shopping purposes.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 6:24PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

20% humidity?? Wow guy, you need a humidifer, mister, indoor fountain and trays..LOL..J/K of course..I'd literally have breathing problems at 20%..
Perhaps the Hypoestes doesn't need much humidity..How does yours do in winter? Do you pinch/prune to keep compact?? Toni

No breathing probs here, Toni, but I have found that I get "itchy" when the humidity is that low. [Surprising how long it took me to figure out that that was the cause.]

I pretty much ignore my Hypoestes. I try to remember to water it once a week. Pinch it back? Heck no. For now it has permission to get as big as it wants. Now when spring arrives, THEN it will get chopped into 1-2" bits, potted up, and -- once rooted -- get planted outside at my folks' place in their shade bed. [Unlike, Bihai, in our zone Hypoestes can't overwinter. So no worry about it trying to take over.] I'll probably also keep a few cuttings growing on my balconey.

I do wish there was a truly mini version of maidenhair fern. I love them but can't keep them alive -- air's too dry. Can't have them in my terr as they get waaaay to big.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 10:54PM
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