Humidity-loving plants are sometimes difficult to care for indoors due to Southern California’s dry coastal desert climate coupled with the dryness of air conditioners. The bathroom is sometimes the last place someone thinks to put a plant yet the humidity from the shower or bath is heavenly to many of our little green friends. Conditions are most perfect if a window is available that gives full or indirect light. But there are some plants that love the wet sprays from the shower and tolerate low light conditions.
Fiddle-dee-dee, the Fiddle-leaf Fig, Ficus lyrata, thrives in warm and wet conditions. It is a very tolerant plant and can live in other spaces of the house. But the steamy conditions of the bathroom would be its favorite hangout. It is a fairly large plant, so would do well in a beautiful floor-standing container in a master bathroom. Bright filtered light to even a small amount of full sun from an eastern facing window keeps the fiddle-leaf happy. The soil must be fast draining yet kept steadily moist. Do not let it sit in water or the leaves will drop and the roots will rot. Fertilize with a weak fertilizing solution or not at all. There are a some compact, bushier cultivars such as ‘Compacta’ or ‘Suncost’ that are shorter with larger leaves instead of the taller, smaller leaves found with F. lyrata.
Begonias love humidity and a special place in the bathroom with bright indirect light would be perfect. There are three different types of begonias, tuberous, fibrous and rhizomatous. The tuberous begonias love the higher humidity where the two others types, fibrous and rhizomatous though they too love humidity, tolerate dryer areas of the home much better. Be careful, the plants are susceptible to root rot and over watering. Only water when they need it. Sometimes experts say its best to wait until signs of dryness appear such as droopy leaves to water. These plants are naturally pest resistant, but can come down with powdery mildew if water hangs on them for too long. The array of colors can perk up any bathroom and make for a cheery morning bath!
AIR PLANT and other BROMELIADS
Tillandsias, or better known as air plants, are some of the easiest plants to grow. They use tiny vessels called trichomes are located throughout their leaves to receive nutrients and moisture from the air, making it a lovely candidate for a high humidity environment. Using roots to anchor themselves to an object, tillandsias can be creatively put inside of a glass bowl or hanging form the wall or anything! The most important thing for an air plant is indirect lighting from a window or adequate amounts of artificial light. The steamy moisture of the bathroom is also ideal for them. The more humid the environment, the less watering needed for an air plant. To water, place the air plant face down in a bowl, sink or container and let soak for 10 – 20 minutes. Be sure to gently shake off any excess water from the base of the plant since sitting water can cause rot and kill the plant. Best to water in morning and leave out for 4 hours to dry.
Other types of bromeliads grown indoors have little needs and few pest problems. These plants thrive in high humidity but are very sensitive to being over watered. They can withstand being without water longer than having too much. So use a fast draining soil. Also when watering the soil, be sure to thoroughly soak it so the water runs out to keep salt build-up low. Water when the top 2 inches of soil is dry. If the bromeliad has a “tank” where the leaves form a cup at the top, be sure to fill it with filtered water and flush it regularly. Lighting conditions vary for the plant, some varieties prefer bright indirect light and others less. Do not expose to direct sunlight for extended periods of time because it can cause damage to leaves. A south facing window is best. They require little fertilizing but can benefit with a water soluble fertilizer every 6 months.
The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) is an all time favorite for bringing beauty into a home. It not only is graceful with its deep green glossy leaves and white flowers, it is also keeps the air clean of toxins. The Peace Lily breaks down chemicals in its pores such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide and provides needed oxygen into the air. It’s also an easy care plant with a very forgiving nature. Forgetting to water might leave it droopy and looking quite dead. But thoroughly watering so its soil gets soaked but not soggy will perk the plant right up. Since it doesn’t like to sit in water, be sure to use fast draining soil. Filtered water is best; or let the water stand overnight to allow the chlorine gas to escape. The humidity generated from taking a shower in a sunny bathroom with indirect lighting makes the peace lily thrive. To keep the blooms coming, fertilize with a 20-20-20 at 1/2 to 1/4 strength plant fertilizer once per month during spring and summer.