Humidity Dome or Not? How to Decide

Humidity domes are popular methods of increasing the germination rate of seedlings, but it cannot be denied that they can also involve a lot of time and energy investment.

How can you decide if you need a humidity dome? One factor to take into consideration is the number of seedlings that you are planning to grow. If you need a ton of them, then you might want to consider getting one. Another point of concern is the type of seedlings you are trying to grow, with some needing more humidity than others.

Humidity domes are not exactly that difficult to create or obtain, but you have to think about just how far you are going for your particular project if you don’t want to waste too much time.

Do You need a Humidity Dome?

On the matter of discussing the necessity of a humidity dome, we can look into the matter of whether or not you actually need one. You have to remember that there could be plenty of reasons why a humidity dome would even be necessary or used. These include:

·         Stimulating the germination of seeds

·         Encouraging healthy seedling growth

·         Germinating exotic plants

·         Creating a healthier environment for seedlings

·         Creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing display

A humidity dome can help with all of these needs and if you are someone who actually has a mind for having one, any of them might apply to your case. With that being the case, how do you know if you actually need one? Well, you can start by checking out the table below, which contains reasons for having a humidity dome:

Increasing germination speedSeeds sprout at different speeds with some doing so in a day while others requiring a week, but a humidity dome can speed this up
Improving the odds of germinationNot all seeds will germinate when you plant them, but when you make use of a humidity dome, you can increase the odds of seeds sprouting
Improving seedling survivalEven after the seeds have sprouted, there is a chance that the seedlings could die, but placing them under a dome can be of immense help in keeping them alive
Growing healthier seedlingsSeedlings can grow or they can grow healthy, and if you want the latter, a dome might help you achieve your goals
Germinating exotic plantsSome plants require a considerable level of humidity and moisture levels to sprout and thrive, which is something that a dome can provide
Protecting seedlings from harsh conditionsIf living in a place with harsh conditions, humidity domes can provide a significant level of protection, thus increasing the odds of the survival of the seedlings
Creating a functional display environmentIf you wanted to, you can create humidity domes that can also double as a plant display case for your more exotic examples

It is worth pointing out that if we are talking about reasons for why you would use a humidity dome, it can be pretty much anything you want. The only real question is whether or not it is a valid enough reason for you to put in the time and money that it will require.

On that note, there is a real benefit to using a humidity dome, but there are also downsides to it. In fact, there are those who would argue that it can be quite harmful to use one of these things. There have been some tests here and there that even indicate no advantages to using humidity domes in some cases. As with anything, though, it depends on the context.

Increasing Germination Speed – The main function of the humidity dome when you are growing seedlings is trapping moisture in the confined space so that it doesn’t dry up. The idea is to make sure that the seedlings have enough water to grow, with the temperature going up just enough to encourage sprouting.

Now, there may be some confusion here but bear with me for a bit. In order for seeds to germinate quickly, you basically need to fulfill a few conditions. This includes dry seeds, clean and healthy soil, darkness, heat, and of course, moisture. You can basically get all of that if you use a humidity dome, but there is never really any guarantee that it will work.

All you can do is trust in the process that should make it work. If it doesn’t, something went wrong along the way.

Improving Odds of Germination – Speaking of which, germination does not always occur among seeds that you plant, which is why it is imperative that you plant a lot of seeds to increase the sprouts. Using a humidity dome will essentially increase the odds of the seeds that you planted germinating, which will then lead to more seedlings.

Don’t get the wrong idea here, though. A whole lot of things have got to go right first before germination actually occurs. So don’t expect that using a humidity dome automatically means that all of the seeds you plant will grow s

Improving Seedling Survival – Once the seeds have sprouted, you now have seedlings in your hands. However, just because you have seedling sprouts, this does not mean that you will eventually have grown plants. The seedlings will need to survive until you are actually able to transplant them, which is one of the most stressful points of a plant’s life.

You need to wait for the sprout to grow true leaves and then that seedling will need to be healthy enough to survive being transferred to another container or plot. Thanks to the constant presence of moisture in the humidity dome, there is less of a chance that the seedlings will die of neglect.

Growing Healthier Seedlings – Now, it’s worth pointing out that a humidity dome can be used for growing things other than seedlings since cuttings and clones are often grown in it too. However, just focusing on the seedlings, for now, another argument for using humidity domes is the growing of healthier seedlings.

Humidity domes are thought to create more robust seedlings that will be able to withstand the stress of being transplanted better and would also produce stronger plants. This is attributed to the constant presence of moisture in the air, but as is the case with everything else here, there are no guarantees.

It could just as easily be that the seedling turns out weak due to a bad seed. This is why it is important that you have good materials to work with, in the first place.

Germinating Exotic Plants – Another good reason for having a humidity dome, especially if you are living in colder or more arid areas, is when you are growing exotic plants. These are plants that basically only really grow naturally in tropical jungles, where the moisture levels are insane due to the constant humidity levels. Some species just require that in order to thrive.

You can technically grow these kinds of plants even without a humidity dome, but it is a good bet that it is not going to be as good or as healthy as it would be if grown in one. Of course, this would depend on the plant itself and a humidity dome can only really guarantee the first stage of its life.

Unless you have an even bigger humidity dome, you can only cultivate this kind of atmosphere while it is still a seedling.

Protecting Seedlings – While it is useful for the moisture under the humidity dome to always be present, which keeps the soil and the seedlings wet, this particular method also offers more protection. Simply put, uncovered seedlings can be prone to get knocked over, stepped on, or eaten by pests. Since seedlings would basically be protected quite heavily with a humidity dome, this won’t be an issue.

Now, it is worth pointing out that this would depend entirely on the kind of humidity dome that you have. Some humidity domes are made of hard plastic while others are simply makeshift plastic sheets clamped onto the sides of a container. As you might imagine, the level of protection that could be given, at that point, would vary greatly.

Still, you won’t have to worry about your pets or someone else accidentally stepping on them. So that’s worth something, at least.

Functional Display Environment – Finally, humidity domes can be a method of you growing plants that are meant for indoor growing and having a convenient to display them. A humidity dome can be as intricate or as simple as you need it to be, after all, so you are definitely going to want to make sure that you give your best.

If your humidity dome is particularly beautiful while hosting exquisite plants and flowers, you would have excellent decorative material. Still, this would be completely dependent on whether or not you can grow such things, in the first place.

What is a Humidity Dome for?

Technically speaking, a humidity dome is only meant to trap moisture and heat underneath a cover plastic over a container of seedlings. However, this is just the general perspective when it comes to this particular tool. In reality, it can be a lot more complicated, especially if you intend to use it for a lot more than just germinating seeds.

Starting with the basics, though, humidity domes are often thought of as perfect for increase germination speeds and rates simply because of how it retains moisture. Even when you water a bed of seedlings and then cover it with a lid or something, that moisture will still escape. This is not the case with a humidity dome.

By keeping the moisture inside, you can guarantee that the seedlings will not want for that particular thing. If the seedlings are always wet but not too wet thanks to the humidity, it will be less likely for them to die because they became too dry. This is just something that you cannot get if you grow seedlings in a more open environment.

However, aside from simply creating a space where seedlings can grow fast and healthy, humidity domes are also often used to prime seedling for transferring better. Seedlings that are grown under these types of structures tend to be more robust than those that are grown elsewhere.

As a result, they are more resistant to such things as stress. With this being the case, you will be able to transplant the seedlings to another container or bed and have a better chance of them growing to be healthier plants. Things like quality of the fruits, leaves, stems, and the like will then be determined going forward.

What Qualifies as a Humidity Dome?

If we discuss this in general terms, pretty much anything that you can use to trap humidity while growing seedlings can be considered a humidity dome. It can be a plastic lid, a clear film, or a plastic bag. The simplest version of a humidity dome that you can make is one where the seedlings are placed at the bottom of a relatively deep container and the top is tightly covered by a sheet of plastic.

Just by doing that, you already have a humidity dome that you can work with, but you can hardly call that versatile or reliable. If something happens to the plastic sheet, you will need to start over. This is why some DIY gardeners would buy plastic containers deep enough to accommodate the seedlings, do some magic with a glue gun and some tapes, and create a simple humidity dome.

However, for those who are really committed, there are specialized humidity domes where you can literally control how much humidity is present inside. Those are a little more expensive, but they are more convenient and there is no denying that they are also more durable. Just remember that some would argue against doing so because of their perceived inherent lack of ROI.

Related Question

Do Seeds Germinate Better in the Dark?

Seeds do tend to germinate better in the dark, with the lack of light being something of a catalyst for the process to start. This is due to the fact that when the seeds are buried, there is very little light that comes through the dirt and there will be a natural reaction that goes seeking the light.

Does the Seed Die Before It Grows?

A seed embryo does not die as it begins to germinate and become a seedling, but rather, matures and changes to another form. This is a rather odd notion that seems to be growing in popularity of late thanks to some illustrations that have been passed around where the seed supposedly dies.

Homemade Vs. Store-Bought Humidity Dome

Now, there is an argument to be made that homemade humidity domes are better for you in the long run because you will be able to customize them as you see fit. Considering that you can pretty much use anything you want as long as they fit the needs of the situation, this could be a good point to take into consideration.

There is also the question of the costs, which a humidity dome that you make at home can hardly demand. The materials are pretty cheap and as long as you have ingenuity, you might even be able to just use items that are already in your house.

However, there is one thing going for store-bought humidity domes and that is the fact that they are considerably more consistent, reliable, and convenient. You can even purchase humidity domes that are intended specifically to be used as display cases thanks to their aesthetics and design. If you are not confident in your ability to craft your own humidity dome, you can go with this option.

It is worth pointing out, though, that one of the advantages of humidity domes that you make at home is the matter of customization. Once you get good enough at it, you can literally create any kind of humidity dome that you want, and you can start by buying one first. From there, you can get a better idea of what a humidity dome should look like and then make adjustments.

You cannot be expected to get that good at making humidity domes right away, after all. It does take some time for you to become more skilled in the creation process. From there, you can start designing more elaborate domes so that you will then be able to show off not only the seedlings you have cultivated but also its container.

Humidity Domes at Home

The whole point of using humidity domes is so that you have the ability to grow seedlings at home in a manner that guarantees their health and survival. Not everyone can have a greenhouse where you basically control pretty much anything that goes in it, including the temperature, the humidity, and the moisture intervals.

For those who want to provide the best environment in which seedlings can grow, humidity domes are thought to be one of the best options available. However, this will ultimately depend on the person using it. Remember that humidity domes are not a guarantee of anything and just because you are using it, this does not mean that your plants will grow up healthy.

You will still need to have good seeds to work with and the soil will also need to be relatively healthy. You also need to remember that humidity domes will require you to fiddle it wit from time to time, moving the dome to darker or brighter places, opening the lid from time to time, and the like.

Having this device is not a license for you to leave your seedlings alone and trust that they will grow well. You will also need to do your job as a gardener.

This should not be that big of a task, though, especially if you are interested in the practice of gardening and want to do it in earnest. You have to remember that you are trying to create something that will bring you joy, after all. When you think about it that way, this is just so worth doing. 

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