The Effects of Air Conditioning On Houseplants

The Effects of Air Conditioning On Houseplants

The cool relief of the air conditioner can be a real lifesaver on hot summer days, but that sudden change in temperature and air quality can affect your plants. Are you worried your houseplant collection might suffer when you turn up the A/C? No need to stress—there are plenty of things you can do to protect your plant from the effects of changes in air quality.


Will My Air Conditioner Kill My Plants?

Cranking up the air conditioner has a major effect on the environment within your home—not just the temperature but also the humidity and dust particles in the air. A rapid, drastic change in air quality definitely has the potential to stress out your plants. However, if you take some extra precautions and follow these care tips, you can protect your plants from damage and boost their resilience to environmental changes.

humidifier for houseplants

Air Conditioners and Humidity for Plants

The most noticeable change in air conditions—aside from the temperature, of course—is the dryness that occurs from turning on the air conditioner. You know how dry air can make your hair and nails feel brittle and weak? Well, the same goes for your plants’ leaves. When there’s less moisture in the air, the leaves will dry out, and they may turn yellow or get crispy. 

Supplementing the lack of moisture in the air will help your plants stay nourished and lush. There are a lot of ways you can do this! Here are a few simple hacks to boost humidity levels and counteract the drying effects of your air conditioner:

  • Place your plants on a shallow tray full of pebbles and a ½ inch of water. The moisture from the tray will release into the air close to your plant so that it can soak it right up. 
  • Use a plug-in humidifier to release water vapor into the air. If you have a smaller space, you can get away with small portable humidifiers that don’t take up much room. If your home is more spacious, you may want to use a larger humidifier that plugs into the wall. 
  • Spritz your plants regularly with a spray bottle on a fine mist setting. 
  • Bring your plants into the bathroom once a month, and crank on a hot shower so that the room fills up with steam. Let your plants sit in your DIY bathroom sauna for an hour, and they’ll feel just as refreshed as you would after a spa day!


spray houseplant leaves or put in bathroom to help with humidity

Air Conditioning With Swamp Coolers

If you’ve got a swamp cooler in your house instead of a typical central air unit, you’re in luck! These systems actually add moisture into the air, so your houseplants will appreciate it. You know how on a hot day, when the wind travels from across a lake or the ocean, it’s nice and cool? Swamp coolers work the same way, by passing hot, dry air through a unit filled with cool water. The result is higher humidity, and cooler air. Just make sure to clean the inside of the unit regularly so it doesn’t get funky!


Protecting Your Plants From Air Conditioner Drafts

Cold drafts from the air conditioner aren’t great for your plants. While cool air isn’t bad in general, it’s the gusts of cold from your vents that can do considerable damage. Some plants, like Sansevieria, are much more tolerant to slightly chilly drafts. However, many common houseplants—especially tropicals—hate being exposed to quick drops in temperature. When you turn up the air conditioner, take note of where all the vents are in your home, and make sure your plants are several feet away.


cleaning dust build up off of zz plant leaves

Clean Dust Build-up From Your Plant Leaves

It’s common to feel a bit of a scratchy throat or a case of the sniffles when you turn on the air conditioner for the first time in the summer. This is because lots of dust and other allergens become airborne. Strangely, our plants have their “breathing” affected by dust, too. Plants take in moisture and C02 through their leaves in a process called transpiration, but if their leaves are coated in dust, they can’t do this properly.

Wiping your plants’ leaves down with a moist cloth every two weeks will help remove this dust buildup. It helps your plant stay healthier, and it also makes them look shinier and cleaner. Tropical plants with big, bright leaves, like Monstera deliciosa or Croton are especially susceptible to dust buildup, and regular wipedowns keep them looking their best. 


Need some tough, resilient plants that are easy to care for, whatever the weather conditions might be? We have a whole collection of low-maintenance plants that are amazing for beginners. Browse our catalog to see all the gorgeous new varieties available to be shipped now, plus some simple care instructions so you can be sure they’re happy in their new home.