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Is there a concrete rule for which plants like to have their leaves sprinkled with tap water (since distilled water is not at hand)?

For instance (and among indoor plants), do Ficus elastica and Philodendron qualify, and if so what would be a good schedule?

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Some houseplants require high air humidity (Anthurium for instance). Others are not so fussy, but certainly your Ficus elastica will appreciate misting if the air is dry (as in winter when the heating's on) https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/rubber-plant-our-best-tips-for-growing-and-care-237390. It's not essential to mist either of the plants you mention, but because both have large leaves, dusting or cleaning them is necessary, and misting maybe once or twice a week when the heating is on will give them more optimal conditions in which to grow https://www.caringforhouseplants.com/proper-care-and-feeding-of-the-philodendron/.

I'd just point out it's not 'sprinkling' with water either - you need a sprayer to create a fine mist rather than sprinkling water, and tepid or room temperature tap water is fine; though it isn't critical, I always allow it stand for half an hour at least to allow the chlorine to dissipate. If your water supplier uses chloramanine and not chlorine, though, this does not dissipate. For plants which require frequent misting, I usually use previously boiled water - this removes the limescale, so the mist will not leave white deposits on the leaves.

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  • Thx & yes, misting is the better term. (I'm not a native speaker).
    – Drux
    Sep 2, 2018 at 19:16
  • I thought maybe that was it, but had to make sure!
    – Bamboo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 19:38
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I guess one way to look at this is to imagine the plants in their natural habitat. The Ficus grows to a large tree from the ground level up and therefore provides a forest canopy, while the Philodendron normally grows up in the canopy quite separate from the ground. Ficus wants high light, Philodendron likes filtered light. Both normally are in high humidity environments, so transpiration will be low. When mature, Ficus gets rain, Philodendron will get both rain and drippage from the parent plant from which it rents space.

So now we can compare the ideal environment to the substitute space in which it is required to live. Is the air dry? If so then transpiration will be much greater than normal. Ficus has thick leaves; part of the function of these leaves is as water storage. Some Philodendrons also have thick leaves, others have thinner leaves and therefore less capacity for water reserves.

Sprinkling with water raises the humidity, but not very effectively. The drier the air, the more spritzing, and look to your Philodendron first.

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