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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - February 27, 2007

From: Ypsilanti, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Best of Smarty, General Botany
Title: Plants that might absorb moisture from air
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am searching for a plant that will reduce the relative humidity of a building. I work for a manufacturing company that is experiencing problems with water condensing on ceilings and equipment due to high humidity levels. Are there any plants that grow well indoors at 70F with very little sunlight and at the same time absorb moisture from the air?

ANSWER:

Probably there are no plants that will do the job you need. In general, plants are always net contributers to atmospheric water. Thus, the air inside greenhouses, terrariums and other enclosed spaces with plants is always humid. This, of course, is due to transpiration. The amount of atmospheric moisture absorbed by plants is negligible compared to the amount respired. Most likely even epiphytes, the best candidates for the job, give off more water than they absorb from atmospheric water vapor. This is not to say that epiphytes, e.g., bromeliads, wouldn't thrive in the atmosphere you describe. It sounds ideal for them.

 

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