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 is just looking a little under the weather, this guide will show you how to perk it back up!
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, whereas 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 rain forest! You can use tap water as well, just leave it out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate, or use filtered water.
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 its beauty for another 1-3 weeks before it needs another bath.”
2. Remove dead leaves by gently tugging at them 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 already 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!!
3. If the tips of your air plant are turning brown, try using rainwater or unchlorinated water as described above. If you are not giving them chlorine but they are still turning brown, then your plant may not be getting enough water. Give them an overnight bath, then make sure you are bathing them more often.
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 bath time. Read the section about watering again and you’ll surely have better luck with the next one!