DIY Humidity Tray Comprehensive Guide (with Steps)

DIY Humidity Trays are ideal for achieving the perfect humidity levels for your indoor plants. A plant humidity tray:

  • doesn’t require expensive equipment which is perfect for the budget conscious gardeners,
  • is simple to maintain, and
  • is quick and easy to make with the instructions in this guide (below).

Welcome to today’s feature article at the Garden Bench Top, where we are going to guide you through the steps in making your very own humidity tray for plants.

This is a simple and effective design for increasing humidity around your indoor plants. It is perfect for keeping your tropical houseplants happy, such as Philodendrons or Hoyas.

We particularly like using plant humidifier trays for indoors, as they won’t interrupt the aesthetics of your design, unlike a large mechanical humidifier which can disturb the ambience you worked so hard to create.

However, before we pull up our DIY gloves, let’s understand the mechanics of humidity trays.

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Just want to learn how the steps for making a DIY Humidity Tray? Jump to the instructions BELOW!

What is a Humidity Tray?

what is a humidity tray

If we were to describe what a humidity tray looks like, think of a water catcher for plants with a few modifications.

You may be thinking, ‘Why do I need a guide to put a tray under a plant?

Because, there are some important distinctions between watcher catchers and humidity trays. So important, in fact, it could be the difference between your plant surviving or thriving.

Difference between Water Trays and Humidity Trays

The key difference between an under plant tray and a humidity tray is the purpose.

Water trays for plants are intended to catch excess water from your plants drainage hole when you water them. Water trays help to prevent water making a mess on your floor, while at the same time allowing your plants to soak up the excess water over time. This happens because the plants’ soil remains in contact with the water in the tray, which gets reabsorbed.

water tray vs humidity tray

Whereas in a DIY humidity tray, the plant is elevated above the water level. You can use a variety of materials in humidity trays for plants to keep your plant from touching the water. The most commonly used material is garden pebbles, which is why some people refer to them as a pebble tray. Pebbles are great for creating a DIY pebble tray because they do not absorb water, create plenty of gaps and space for water to fill, and most gardeners generally have them on hand.

In this guide, we’ll be teaching you the plant pebble tray method, however feel free to use any material you have that have the same properties as pebbles. Other materials that also works is pieces of ceramic or porcelain pots, river rocks, and decorative stones because they are all non-porous materials.

How do Humidity Trays work?

Now that we know the difference, let’s understand the mechanics of how humidity trays work.

Have you ever noticed when you are standing next to a river, a lake or the ocean, the air feels more humid? That is because, as the water evaporates from the surface of the water, it increases the water content of the air, which increases humidity.

A humidifier tray works in the same way. As the water evaporates from the humidity tray, it increases the water content of the air in the immediate vicinity of your plant. Keeping your plant happy and content.

You could say you are creating your own body of water for your indoor plants!

How to Make a Humidity Tray DIY Steps

In this section, we’ll be guiding you through the quick and easy way to creating a HUMIDITY TRAY DIY style!

Things you will need:

  • waterproof tray wide enough to hold your plant(s) and 1 inch (2.5 cms) deep,
  • medium-sized pebbles, and, of course,
  • water.

How to make humidity tray for plants

how to make a humidity tray for plants

The steps are simple:

  1. Pour your garden pebbles (or choice of material) onto your tray. Make sure to spread them out evenly. Ideally, you should use pebbles that are similar in size and shape. The reason is you will be placing your plants on top of the pebbles to elevate them above the water level. Uneven pebbles make it difficult to balance your plants, and can lead to tipped-over plants. Problems we definitely do not need!
  2. Fill your tray with water. It’s now time to pour the water into your humidity tray. Make sure the water doesn’t submerge any pebbles. You want the water level below the tops of the rocks in your pebble tray.
  3. Place your plant(s) on top of the pebbles. Take your time to carefully position your plants on the pebbles. Make sure the planters are level and stable. Like we said, it is better to take your time stabilizing your plants now, rather than discovering your plants have tumbled down and out of their pots.


If you are finding it difficult to position your plants, rearrange your pebbles by taking them all out and choosing only similar sized pebbles. Alternatively, use a different material as a substitute for the pebbles.

More About Indoor Plants & Humidity Trays

By now, you should know how to construct a pebble tray for humidity and what it does for your indoor plants. In this section, we will be broadening your knowledge of DIY humidity trays, so you can apply your new-found knowledge to other aspects of your gardening skills.

Types of plants suitable for humidity trays?

It sounds obvious, but any plant that requires a humid environment to survive will benefit from having a DIY humidity tray set up beneath their pot.

As a general rule, any plant that is a tropical plant (originates from a tropical country) will require a minimum level of humidity in the air. Other plants that are suitable for humidity trays include ferns, air plants, philodendrons, nerve and prayer plants and anthuriums.

Orchids are another plant that loves humidity and will benefit from being situated on top of a plant pebble tray. In fact, orchids are so popular a simple search on YouTube will reveal a many number of videos detailing making pebble tray ideas specifically for orchids. Like this one by MerrifieldGardenCt:

Plants that are not suitable for humidity trays are succulents. In general, succulents come from dry, arid areas with very little water. Therefore, they do not have the necessary adaptations to deal with high humidity, and can actually drown with too much water in the air due to a lack of transpiration.

Do Humidity trays really work for humidity?

First, if humidity trays did not work, we would not be encouraging our community to put in time and effort into creating their own humidity DIY pebble tray for plants.

Secondly, YES they do work, to a degree.

The evaporation rate from the pebble tray (and therefore humidity level) is influenced by many factors. Temperature is a big factor that will determine the evaporation rate of your water. During the warmer months in spring and summer, you will notice that the water will evaporate faster than in the cooler months. This means, it will be harder to maintain a high humidity in Autumn and the Winter months.

If you are struggling to maintain the required levels for your indoor plants, check out our other recommended DIY methods of increasing humidity in your house. Using a few of the methods we cover in this article together is a powerful method of maintaining the necessary humidity levels for your plants.

Frequently Asked Questions – Humidity Pebble Trays

In this section we attempt to answer all your ‘other’ questions that may not be addressed in the DIY humidifier guide.

Keep in mind, if you don’t find an answer to your question, please send us a message via our CONTACT page. We will endeavor to respond with a timely answer, and include it in our growing FAQ section below.

Will pebble trays help houseplants during the harsh winters?

The difficulty with using a plant pebble tray in the cold winter air is that the temperature drops. This reduces the amount of water evaporation, which decreases the humidity around your plant.

We recommend combining a few different methods of increasing humidity for your plants, such as misting your plants, using an oil diffuser with water or using a humidifier only during autumn and winter to help boost the humidity levels while the weather is cooler.

Best Humidity for Indoor Plants

We wish we could give you one magical number to maintain your household humidity levels at, and all your plants will thrive. However, this would be misleading.

Ultimately, the answer depends on the variety of indoor plants you maintain in your collection. Each plant has its own preferred humidity levels, and conditions.

We find it is easiest to position your plants into groups that prefer the same living conditions. For example, grouping all your tropical plants together will allow you to increase the humidity in that space. While maintaining a separate space for plants that don’t like humidity, like succulents, will make it easier to ensure everyone is happy.

What can I use for a humidity tray?

Any tray that is waterproof and is made out of a non-porous material will be suitable as a humidity tray. Since you will be keeping a certain level of water in the tray at all times, it needs to be rustproof and of a decent depth that allows you to fill it with water without the threat of overflowing.