Caring For Plants in AC: Is AC Bad For Plants?


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Although it is recommended that plants should not be kept in AC. We can’t help but have plants in our living spaces as we are comforted by the cool air produced by air conditioners. 

The fact is that some plants are more prone to the negative effects of AC, while others are less affected. Some prefer cold temperatures, while others thrive in places with lots of heat—some like humid areas and some like dry areas. So, the answer mainly depends on the plant species. 

According to the Energy Information Association, 87 percent of US homes have air conditioning, with 75 percent having central units.

In this article, I will dispel some myths and concerns about an AC’s effect on plants and what you can do to ensure they grow healthy in such environments.

How To Take Care of Plants in an Air-Conditioned Room?

Caring for plants in AC will require that they are not in the direct path of the vent. Additionally, providing moisture in the form of mist and in some cases, covering the entire plant can all help in keeping them warm while preventing them from drying out quickly.

Plants are our selfless friends. So, do give them a little care by following a few necessary steps for your plants’ sake. 

  • Mist your plants every day to help restore their moisture stripped off by the cold air. This ensures that your plant is well-hydrated and gets enough water as per its needs. Avoid overwatering or over-saturation of roots as it may lead to root rot.
  • Plants thrive in air-conditioned rooms until it’s leaves come in contact with the blast of cold air. So, whenever you find that your plant leaves turn yellow or brown, don’t think twice and immediately change their location to save them from drying out.
  • Clean the dust from your plants daily. Remove shredded leaves, flowers, buds from the pot. Its practice helps to keep plants healthy and undisturbed by pests and diseases.
  • During the daytime, 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit temperature is pleasant for plants. But, at night, keep it between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

See our article on safe places to keep plants at home

How Close Can Plants Be To an Air Conditioner?

Cold air can harm plants in a home or office environment. However, not all air-conditioned rooms are harmful to plants, but the best way to avoid damage is to give them some space. 

Plants like ferns and succulents can handle temperatures well below freezing and are exposed to low temperatures, and still grow.

However, most houseplants or tropical plants don’t like it when there is more than a little bit of chilly air in the space they are in.

Our comfort puts plants in danger. You may enjoy the cold breeze sitting too close to your AC, but your plants do not.

The jet of cold air can cause its leaves to fade and fall. 

The distance between an air conditioner and your plants depends on how big the room is, what type of plant you are growing, and whether it is an indoor or outdoor plant.

As per general guidelines, one should keep up a minimum of 6 feet of distance between your plants and the AC vent. 

Plants cannot bear to sit on the way the freezy air from the vent passes through. 

Generally, the greater the temperature range and temperature difference between an A/C and a plant, the greater the effect on the plant, so selecting plants that can withstand high temperatures is essential.

Note: Consider moving the plants to another part of the room or shift them to another room where there is no threat of AC. 

Additionally, see our detailed post on how can fan stress plants.

How Does AC Affect Plants?

Apart from location, some other crucial points are also there to take note of.

Humidity and temperature have leading roles in plant growth. But, AC fails to serve the plants in this regard.

Here’s what happens:

Humidity: 

Usually, 55 to 75 percent of humidity is favorable for plant growth. The cold air emitted from AC is very dry and dehydrating. It dries out the moisture plants store in leaves. 

Additionally, low humidity leads to dry soil, and crispy leaves due to a lack of moisture.

Due to the shortage of humidity, plant cells often freeze, which hinders the activity of nutrients and water in your plants. 

As a result, immature flower buds drop, and leaves wilt. The plants often experience desiccation.

The Geniani portable humidifier from amazon provides the ideal environmental humidity for healthy plant growth. You can find it by clicking here.

geniani portable humidifier

Temperature: 

Temperature swings have a harsh effect on plants. The cold temperature slows down the growth rate of plants and often leads to plant death as well. 

Temperature also affects photosynthesis and respiration rates, whereby the intake of carbon dioxide and oxygen slows in both processes respectively.

Cold Air: 

Cold air can trigger dormancy in plants slowing down most of their biological process. A similar occurrence is observed in plants going into the winter season.

The jets of cold air are very rough and tough on the foliage of plants. It restricts the nutrient intake capability by slowing the transport system and enzyme activity of plants. 

Additionally, this cold air harms the vitality of plants and even causes the death of the living tissue– Xylem.

Best Plants For Air-Conditioned Rooms:

Plants, whether indoor or outdoor, purify the air and make the environment aesthetically appealing. 

But, not all plants are good roommates for air conditioners. Hence, for your convenience, we came up with a list of plants that can do well even in an air-conditioned room. 

  1. ZZ Plant or Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  2. Snake Plant ( Mother-in-law’s tongue)
  3. Monstera Plant
  4. Rubber Plant or Swiss-cheese plant
  5. Pothos
  6. Prickly Pear
  7. Spider Plant
  8. Peace Lily ( Flowering plant)
  9. Parlor Palm

All of the plants mentioned above need low maintenance. They are forgiving and able to thrive in any environmental conditions. 

Most of them are drought-tolerant. Moreover, they can easily survive in low light and sometimes in darkness as well. 

Although they want very little of your attention and care, they keep the air fresh and breathable. 

Go for plants with large leaves if possible. They are more adaptable to your AC room and will tend to be more tolerant of temperature swings produced by HVAC systems. 

How To Protect Plants From Cold Air-Conditioned Air?

Small plants are susceptible to temperature and humidity swings and other environmental changes. 

Move the plant

Moving the plant from the direct part of the cold air-conditioned air will be the first line of defense in protecting the plant.

The coldest air comes from the direct path from which the AC vents are facing. When the plants are not in this path they are less likely to be frozen and go into dormancy.

Enclose the plants

To protect them from these things, you can easily use a glass jar like a terrarium to keep your plants in a warm, moist ambiance. 

The best feature of it is that the water you use on your plants gets recycled here. 

That’s all you need to keep in mind if you are thinking of decorating your air-conditioned room with plants. 

Use a Humidifier

By raising the humidity in the air you’re helping your plants retain more moisture which is beneficial to their growth.

A humidifier can provide water in the form of mist that plants can use. This helps the plants from drying out and wilting. 

Higher humidity in the air will prevent soil from drying out too quickly which would lengthen watering intervals.

Provide the ideal humidity for healthy plant growth. You can find the best humidifier on amazon by clicking here.

geniani portable humidifier

The Takeaway:

Exposure to cold air can cause chilling injury (also called “frostbite”) in many plants, resulting in damage to the foliage, buds, flowers, branches, and even the roots. 

Some plants can survive small amounts of cold air during brief periods, but anything more than a brief exposure will result in injury. 

Plants with leaves (think ferns and succulents) can usually survive in AC, but most houseplants and tropical plants don’t like the cold. 

So do your plants a favor and protect them from it. Sometimes just a little bit of protection is enough.

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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