How To Water Air Plants

How to Revive a Sick Air Plant

If your air plant is looking dull, a bit brown, maybe limp, it could mean that it is very thirsty! To revive a sick air plant that has been a tad neglected, shipped from far, far away, or just looking a little under the weather, this guide will show you how to perk it back up!How to water and revive a sick air plant

1. The first step is to give your sick air plant an overnight soak. Prepare an air plant bath as you normally would to water it, and let it soak overnight. The next morning, shake it off and put back in place. If you need a refresher on watering here is what I wrote in my All About Air Plants article:

“Without soil this means that air plants will need to absorb moisture through their leaves. I have heard many, many times that garden centers have recommended spritzing them a few times a week. I find that this is just not enough water and that it is often the reason for their demise. I never found that misting was very helpful or consistent.

Personally, I give air plants an hour-long bath to meet their water requirements. In the summer they need a weekly soak, where in the winter it’s once every 3 weeks or so. I like to use rainwater whenever I can, and this is pretty simple given I live in a rainforest! You can use tap water as well, just leave it out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

To give them a bath, simply remove the air plant from the shell, bowl, or whatever else you have it in and set it in a bowl that is large enough to submerge the plant in water. After an hour, take the plant out and give it a good shake upside down to remove any water pooling inside the leaves. Put the plant back in place and just enjoy it’s beauty for another 1-3 weeks before it need another bath.”

The Proper way to water air plants

2. Remove dead leaves by gently tugging at the to see if they come off. If they remove easily, they are dead. If the whole plant falls apart when you do this, your air plant has bit the dust unfortunately. If only a few leaves come off and the inside leaves are green and healthy looking, your plant is going to make it!!pruning or trimming air plants

3. If the tips of your air plant are turning brown, try using rain water or unchlorinated water as described in above. If you are not giving them chlorine, then your plant may not be getting enough water. Give them an overnight bath, then make sure you are bathing them more often.

How to prune an air plant

4. If the plant falls apart even though it’s green, it has probably been sitting in standing water too long, or it was not shaken off properly after bathtime. Read the section on about watering again and you’ll surely have better luck with the next one!

how to revive a sick air plant

Love air plants? Me too! Read all about them here and check out some of the ways you can show them off:

Sea urchin and seashells - How to plant an air plant sea shell terrarium

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Stephen
    StephenFebruary 14,16

    Thankyou so much! Going to try and revive my air plant. I found your two blog posts on the topic very helpful :)

  2. Qerbul
    QerbulJune 13,16

    I want to ask some question about my air plant, as we know that these plants take their needs directly from the air. In treatment I do not give a lot of water and fertilizer, also need adequate sun. I are asking, why the base of the plant is rotten.

    • Rich
      RichSeptember 9,16

      While it’s true that fresh air is one of the basic needs of air-plants, so is bright sun and water. I soak my plants in water more than once a week and fertilize (with Tillandsia fertilizer) once a month. After soaking your plant it is essential that you shake out and remove any drops of water. In certain tillandsia species, the bulbous base of the plant holds on to water, which is why I think your plant may have developed rot. I’ve been growing air-plants for years and lost a few nice ones due to water hidden in the base of the plant. While some species require more waterings than others, if they are to grow and bloom, they need more waterings than most are aware of. On the other hand, once watered, they need to dry completely within a few hours. Inspect the plants for places where water can hide and shake it out or dry on a paper towel, and never leave your plants to sit in moisture. From my experience, not allowing plants to dry thoroughly after necessary waterings is the main cause of dead plants.

  3. Constanze
    ConstanzeAugust 28,16

    In Germany in some reagions we have a great amount of chalk in our tab water. At some website i’ve once read that this would probably jam their leave pores. Which water can i use instead (besides rainwater)?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 29,16

      How about purchased distilled water or spring water? What do you water houseplants with?

  4. Laurie
    LaurieSeptember 5,16

    Thanks for the tips. Is it easy to propagate more plants when they are healthy? (i.e. do they send off little shoots?)

    We have chloramine in our water, which doesn’t evaporate over time. Maybe something to mention in your post, to not use tap water at all in that case?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseSeptember 6,16

      Great tip, Laurie. Yes, they absolutely will send out pups from the base that you can break off and grow as new plants. They are slow growing and the pups are more susceptible to drying out. So be sure to keep them on the mother plant as long as you can, then care for them carefully.

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