I wanted to go into more detail about this because our Facebook Page gets a lot of questions about how to water air plants. Although tillandsia, often known as air plants, are simpler to maintain than many other plant species, they still need some care and attention, and water is crucial to their general well-being. Here are some frequently asked questions about watering air plants along with our suggestions:
This mostly relies on your climate, where you’re keeping the air plants, the Tillandsia species itself, and the environment in which it naturally grows (learn more about mesic vs. xeric air plants here). Since most of the year is humid where we live in Tampa, Florida, we don’t run the heat in our home as often as our friends in the north do (I’m not trying to pick on them, I swear!). We typically water our plants twice a week, but drier climates require more frequent watering. Depending on the season, you may discover that you need to water your plants less. Additionally, it depends on where you put them at your house or office. The plants will stay more wet in a humid bathroom, but you’ll probably need to water them more frequently if they’re close to an air vent or a heat source. (Note: We don’t advise keeping your plants close to heat sources.)
It should be noted that while humidity might slow down drying, it in and of itself is insufficient for watering.
Again, you should modify your watering practices according to your climate and the species of your air plants, but for the majority of air plants and surroundings, we advise that you immerse your plants in water at least once a week. Use something that allows you to totally submerge the air plants, like a bowl, bucket, or your sink. Give them a lengthier bath for an hour or more every other week if you live in a dry area. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes at least once a week. You might wish to shorten the soaks if you reside in a location with higher humidity or if your air plant is more xeric in nature.
You should allow the air plants to completely dry after soaking. They can either be let to dry with their leaves facing down or turned over and gently shaken. If water is allowed to sit in the leaves, the plants risk rotting. The plants should be placed in an area with sufficient airflow, and they should be able to dry entirely in less than four hours. Before bringing your plants back home, ensure sure they are entirely dry if they are in a globe or terrarium.
You will observe how open and wide the leaves are after soaking your plants, as well as how much more “happy” they seem. A well hydrated air plant should appear like this! You’ll learn over time that if the color starts to look a little dull and the leaves start to close or curl, your tillandsia are thirsty and you should give them another nice wash. Try soaking your air plant for several hours or even overnight if it is really struggling to see if you can rehydrate the plant. Always allow them to totally dry off before soaking or spraying them once more.
Between waterings, you can spray the plants. If you live in a dry region, this might be a terrific method to keep plants healthy and offer them some additional care. However, unless you have one of the few species of air plants that appreciate low moisture, such as T. tectorum (for which we only advocate misting) or T. xerographica, misting is not a replacement for a thorough soak (which we recommend dunking instead of soaking).
When it comes to water, air plants aren’t particularly finicky; most tap water is suitable, although it depends on the water quality in your location. The most nutrient-rich types of water to utilize are rainwater, aquarium water, or pond water. If utilizing one of these types of water, don’t add any more fertilizer. Allow the water to rest for several hours to allow the chlorine to dissolve if you’re using tap water (maybe 24 hours in some areas.)
Use water that is not distilled since it is too “pure” and will deprive the plants of the nutrients they require. Additionally, artificially softened water should not be used since Tillandsia cannot tolerate its high salt concentration.
We advise soaking your air plants in the morning so that they can dry completely over the day. Additionally, air plants utilize the nighttime hours to breathe carbon dioxide, so if they are wet in the evenings, they won’t be able to do so effectively. This method is known as CAM; to learn more about CAM, read our page on how air plants breathe. You can check on them before you go to night and place them back in their terrariums or displays. Some indirect sunlight will help them dry more rapidly.
These are the queries about watering air plants that we encounter the most frequently. Did we respond to yours? If not, just inquire! Need advice on caring for air plants? Visit our page on air plant care.
Regarding watering the plants with blooms, I have a query. How do you water them if, as I understand it, you don’t moisten the bottoms or the blooms? Do you bring all of your indoor air plants inside during the winter? Although it doesn’t get very cold very often where I reside in Largo, Florida, it does occasionally. Since we don’t have snow, I believe the wind to be the main issue with the cold. Please lend me any assistance you can.
I recently purchased an aquarium, and in order to ensure that my three air plants receive continuous moisture in the office, I planned to tie them to a branch and let them sit on top of the tank. Do I still need to sprinkle and soak them as usual if the water that has evaporated from the tank should be plenty for them to receive?
Our well water passes through a water softener, which I should have mentioned in my previous query. They would be set up here if they could just survive on smoke.
Since we live in north-eastern Washington, rain has not been an option for us. Instead, we use well water, which I won’t even drink. I use spring water to water my air plants because I purchase it and drink it. I haven’t had them long, but they seem to be doing fine. Is using spring water for irrigation problematic?
Due to hydration issues, I do not advise attaching air plants to driftwood. In retrospect, it sounds apparent, but I was new to air plants and lost five of my six because the wood kept too much water when I first gave them a soak.
How much water do air plants require?
Although air plants are typically fairly easy to maintain, watering is often the deciding factor. But don’t worry! To make things simple and easy, we offer some tips and tricks.
Air plants acquire their nutrients from rainwater, bird droppings, and dead insects in their natural habitat. The greatest choice would be if you have access to a pond, creek, lake, or well, or if you can collect rainfall.
Neither filtered water nor tap water should be used. Municipal tap water typically contains more chemicals than minerals. Many of the natural minerals and nutrients that are advantageous to air plants have been removed from filtered water.
Depending on the weather and time of year, it is ideal to bathe your air plants for 20 minutes to an hour once per week to 10 days. Because cold or hot water will shock the air plants, the water should be lukewarm. If you choose to mist your air plants only, be sure to do it once daily, or as frequently as necessary. When misting your plants, be sure to water all of the leaves just enough to prevent them from dripping, but not too much.
It is crucial to allow your air plants to completely dry after soaking or misting them, especially before putting them back into a terrarium or other container. Place your air plants in some indirect sunshine to make sure they dry. Like drying a cup, you can place them upside-down on top of a towel and allow the water trickle down the leaves. As air plants are highly prone to rotting if they are left wet for too long, give them a few hours to completely dry.
What month is it in the year? Are you frequently using your heater? Do you reside in a humid or arid environment?
You may more accurately assess how much water your air plants need by taking into account all of these elements. Your plant will require more regular watering if you reside in a dry region than if you do in a humid one.
The time of year might also affect when to water. You will need to water more in the summer because the air is hotter and dryer. Your air plants may require a little less water in the winter because the weather will be cooler and more humid. However, if you have a heater on or are using a fireplace, this will also slightly dry the air.
Are air plants able to drink bottled water?
The care of air plants is simple and they are highly hardy. We have observed them surviving for up to two weeks without light or water in a shipping box (Do not try that at home). You should open the package as soon as your new air plants are delivered. As with all plants, air plants require light, air, and water. We ship them using Priority Mail, which delivers packages in 2 to 3 days.
You should soak your air plants in room-temperature water for 20 to 60 minutes to reduce the stress of transportation. Simply place the plants totally submerged in a dish of clean water. Municipal water frequently contains chemicals like fluoride or chlorine. Your air plants will thrive if you have well water, pond water, creek water, or rain water. Spring water in bottles is another option. Use tap water instead of distilled water since it has more nutrients and minerals that air plants need. Since air plants do not require soil to survive, all of their nutrients, light, and moisture are obtained through their leaves.
Your air plants’ leaves may have a white, fuzzy coating, especially after a thorough soaking. Trichomes is the name for them. Trichomes, which are tiny protrusions on the leaves, are what the plants use to absorb water and nutrients. They are not a fungus or a mold.
After soaking, take your air plants out of the water, carefully shake off the excess water, and then spread the plants out so they may dry completely before being placed in a display. The best spot to let them dry and soak up some sunlight is on a lovely sunny window sill. Avoid placing your air plants in the sun’s direct rays. They prefer direct, bright sunlight. Allowing your air plants to dry completely is crucial if you intend to place them in a glass terrarium, a wall hanging display, or any other type of enclosure (or in a hole to stand them up). Your plants are less likely to rot if you let the air plants completely dry.
Within an hour or two, your air plants ought to be dry. After they have dried, place them where they will receive a lot of bright, indirect sunlight. They will quickly dry out if you place them in the sunshine. Your air plants often simply require a weekly 30-minute soak in water. In addition to the soak, you might need to spritz them with water once a week if they are in an extremely dry or heated area. If their leaves start to curl, that is a sign that they are becoming too dry. If you observe this happening, give them a nice bath. Despite their name, air plants require a little bit more than just air to survive.
Spraying them with water two or three times a week would enough if you are unable to let your air plants soak in a bowl of water while they are on display.
Is special water required for air plants?
Although pond or aquarium water would also work because they all include some nutrients, rainwater is the finest water to use for air plants. Regular tap water is OK as well; however, it must first sit in an open container for one night. This enables the water to warm up and the chlorine to disperse, according to Steil. The browning of leaf tips is a result of too much chlorine. Steil advises against using distilled or softened water. According to him, distilled water is too “clean” and won’t give air plants any of the nutrients they require because of the salts in it that can harm their leaves.
Shake and Air Dry
Remove the plant from the water once it has finished soaking, then shake the extra water off of the leaves. The plant should then be turned upside down on a towel for 10 to 15 minutes so that it can drip-dry before being placed back in its usual growing spot. This will lessen the chance that any water is left to collect on the leaves and damage them.
Do my air plants need to be misted?
The final technique in our series on watering air plants is misting, which you can employ in between regular soaking or immersing. Read more in our earlier blog posts to learn more about the dunk method and soaking.
If you notice that your plant’s leaves are starting to seem a bit dry or if you live in a dry region with low air humidity, misting is an excellent approach to give it a little additional hydration. Misting is probably not enough water for your plant to grow, therefore you shouldn’t utilize this method as its only supply of water.
The T. tectorum, which has a lot of trichomes, is an exception to this rule and prefers misting to soaking or submerging. In a temperate area, you might only need to mist once a month with one of these guys, or once a week in a hotter environment.
In contrast to other plants with bigger leaves, plants with wispy leaves such the T. ionantha, T. andreana, or T. fuchsii v gracilis may require misting more regularly in addition to weekly watering.
- It’s easy to spritz plants; just use a spray bottle or hose attachment set to the “mist” setting. Make sure the entire plant gets soaked before misting. As previously mentioned, if this is their sole source of water, this is not the greatest approach for watering. If you mist your plants, remember to additionally soak or dip them once a week at the very least.
A useful generalization to remember is that a healthy air plant will have leaves that are wide open, whereas a dehydrated air plant would have leaves that curl inward. Bring on the mist if you see that your plant is starting to appear a touch dry between your regular waterings!