The most challenging aspect of caring for air plants is watering them. Some individuals use misting religiously, others immerse their air plants, while yet others utilise a mix of misting and soaking.
In our experience, watering air plants is challenging because the plant’s requirements differ significantly depending on the environment. Additionally, some species need particular care. Assessing your environment is the first step in watering your air plant. How much light is reaching your plant? What’s the temperature like inside your house right now? Is there a lot of dry air there (is your plant close to a heater or fireplace)? Is it also really humid?
Following your responses, you can modify the air plant watering schedule to meet your specific requirements. Here is what we suggest as a place to start:
- Every one to two weeks, give your air plant a 5- to 10-minute soak in room-temperature tap water (or, if you can get it, rainwater or pond water).
- Once your plant has soaked, gently shake off any extra water. It should be placed on a towel upside down in a well-lit area. This is very crucial. If extra water is allowed to stand, air plants will quickly decay.
- The plant should be able to dry completely in 3 hours once the soaking process is finished. More time than this could cause your plant to decay. Try putting it somewhere brighter with better airflow to encourage quicker drying.
- Mist your plant well once a week (instead of watering it). Make sure the entire surface is saturated (but not so much that there is water dripping down into the plant).
- You need to water more when the air is hotter and dryer (summer, early fall). Your air plant will require less water during the cooler and more humid seasons (winter and spring). Just be mindful of your plant because heaters and fires dry out the air.
- Water everything in the morning. Evening sopping or sprinkling interferes with the plants’ ability to breathe at night and prolongs the drying process.
Is My Air Plant Getting Enough Water?
The tops of your air plant’s leaves may turn brown or crispy if you’ve been neglecting to water it. When an air plant is under-watered, its leaves’ inherent concavity tends to become more pronounced.
Unfortunately, it’s frequently too late to save an overwatered air plant. Your plant has certainly succumbed to rot if the base of the plant turns dark or black and leaves are falling out or off from the centre.
Regarding temperature, air plants are fairly tolerant. They thrive between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature difference between daytime and nighttime is roughly 10 degrees.
To maintain your air plant healthy, include orchid or specific air plant fertiliser in your watering routine once or twice a month. Simply sprinkle some in your water, then carry on as usual. Your air plant will blossom and propagate if you fertilise it (or pup — more on this later)
How can I tell if my air plant needs water?
Under-watering is the main reason why air plants die in new owners’ care. The overwatering that follows is a close second. According to a longstanding myth, these plants draw all the water they need from the atmosphere and don’t even need to be watered at all. While living in a climate similar to the Tillandsia’s natural environment and having them outside, this may be true, for the rest of us, watering is necessary. No need to worry; your plants will thrive if you follow these easy watering instructions. Pick one of the techniques listed below to water your plants like a pro.
The easiest approach to keep your air plant happy, particularly indoors, is to submerge it. People are frequently shocked to learn that you can completely submerge an aerial plant, but they adore it nonetheless! The only effective method for completely rehydrating your air plant is this. When water enters the plant’s root through the entire leaf surface, a stunning metamorphosis occurs. Curly leaves will frequently straighten, and although your Tillandsia won’t have meaty leaves like succulents, there will be a distinct fullness after soaking.
THE AMOUNT A dry tillandsia can benefit greatly from even a brief 30-minute bath, although they are capable of holding their breath for up to 12–24 hours. Our general rule is to soak for 6–12 hours once every week. Ours normally soaks for 12 hours or so. Even without losing too many of them, we’ve occasionally forgotten about them. Some xeric species, such as Tectorum and Xerographica, should be handled with caution. Since they are more delicate, they favour spraying.
Another method of watering your air plant is to spray it until it is completely saturated. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a light sprinkling. For optimal watering, your plant needs to be totally submerged. While spraying your air plant is a good technique to hydrate it, you’ll need to do it much more frequently than soaking, which results in a more thorough rehydration.
THE AMOUNT 2-3 times each week, spray until completely saturated. This will be greater if you reside in Arizona and less if you reside in Hawaii. Whether your plant is indoors or outdoors, as well as the type of light it receives, are the two most crucial aspects to consider when deciding when and how much water to apply. More water will be appreciated if there is a lot of sun. Regular watering is essential indoors, where there is heat, air conditioning, and generally dry circumstances.
Watch the leaves of your plants to see if they are showing signs of thirst. A healthy white fuzz really indicates that your plant is healthy and not necessarily drying out because curly leaves are drier. Other indicators that you are under-watering include brown leaf tips and a generally withered appearance. Watch how your plant appears after a thorough soak. What is that like right now? Because every plant is unique, pay attention to what yours is now telling you.
Choosing your water
I’ll admit that for a long time, my air plants consumed more expensive water than I did. While my collection grew, I would tirelessly transport containers of purified water for them to enjoy. Tillandsia are accustomed to rainwater that has a pH balance and the ideal ratio of nutrients. The perfect balance is provided by well-filtered water, and I would even conduct my own PH testing to make sure the water was properly balanced between acidic and alkaline.
Tap water frequently contains high levels of chlorine and elements like calcium that can clog the delicate leaves of air plants. Interestingly, distilled water kills air plants by removing all of their nutrients through osmosis. Reverse osmosis systems are frequently used by nursery producers to guarantee that their plants receive the best water and produce the greatest outcomes.
But after many years and painful arms, I decided that my plants needed to become more resilient because I can no longer stand it. I turned on the hose and haven’t turned around since. However, I always make sure to take all of my tillandsia outside when it rains so they can take a lovely, refreshing shower. For similar advantages, you can utilise spring water or pond water.
Tip: Tap water’s chlorine levels drop after about 15 minutes. Before adding your air plants, try filling your soaking bin with water and waiting for this to happen.
How long do air plants need to be dry?
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An air plant’s best formula for success is proper care. Despite the fact that air plants are among the easiest indoor plants to care for, it is still preferable to give them some attention. Taking care of your air plants include giving them the water they require, the right amount of light, appropriate airflow, and fertilisers like orchid plant food to improve their health.
Without water, air plants may survive for two weeks. Additionally, the plant’s health is compromised even if it is still alive. Regarding the recommended watering regimen, you should bathe your air plants in water at least once every two weeks and spritz them once a week.
They will stay hydrated and have all the moisture they need to perform essential functions like photosynthesis if they are often watered. But what happens if you are unable to water your air plants on time? How long can they go without drinking?
To shed further light on this subject, we have put together this extremely useful post. Are you scared that your air plants will wither while you are away since you plan to be gone from home for a few days? Or perhaps you’re too busy with your schedule to give your air plants the proper amount of water? If so, you should read this article! Learn how long it takes for the absence of water to actually harm your air plants by reading on.
My air plant appears to be dry.
Xerographica air plants don’t require much water to survive, but if they don’t get enough, they will become dehydrated and start to exhibit symptoms like; looking a little dull; the tips of the leaves are drying up; and they are beginning to u-shape and become droopy at the same time.
There’s no need to freak out if you notice these symptoms in your air plant because it’s simple to save a dehydrated air plant. Simply adhere to the guidelines listed below, and they ought to quickly begin to thrive once more!
- Your air plant’s dead portions should be removed.
- Put it in a bowl of water and soak it there for a minimum of 5-8 hours.
- Instead of through their roots, air plants absorb water through their leaves. So make sure the water is completely covering all of the leaves.
- Use unchlorinated or rainwater whenever possible, especially if you see that the tips of the plant’s leaves are already turning brown. There is a good probability that your air plant is still not getting enough water if the leaves are turning brown even though you are not giving them water that has chlorine in it.
My air plant feels too dry.
More air plants perish from overwatering than from underwatering. The telltale indicator is when the bottom of your air plant appears brown and slimy. Instead of submerging or soaking your air plants, try misting them with a spray bottle. In between waterings, make sure your air plant has completely dried out. Only mist your air plants 1-3 times each week. Less can be more. It’s crucial to dry your air plant within four hours because they can become overwatered if they don’t. Get a fan for your air plant if it doesn’t dry after four hours of watering, and water it less the following time.
2. Insufficient air causes air plants to lack nutrients. It results in “dry rot.” There won’t be enough food if there isn’t enough air movement around air plants. Keep in mind that air plants consume nourishment. Terrariums and small, quiet locations like toilets shouldn’t be used to house air plants because there isn’t enough airflow in these areas. Instead, pick a place with lots of natural light and fresh air, such as close to an open window, in a large room with other rooms adjacent to it, in a courtyard or on a veranda. Lack of air flow can also lead to overwatering because it delays the air plants’ ability to fully dry up. The problem with air plant holders is dry rot. Your air plant may develop dry rot on the area of the plant that has poor air flow from the planter if the base is placed in a planter, such as a pot, hanger, or pouch, that has no ventilation. Before you notice the rot, it will have spread and your air plant will be dead.
3. Lack of Light – To produce their own nourishment, air plants require light. If your air plants are indoors, make sure they are one metre or less from a window. They’ll definitely perish from lack of sunshine if you put them in a dark hallway.
4. Too much direct sunlight will burn your plant or severely dry the foliage. Generally speaking, 45 minutes of moderate early morning or late afternoon direct sunshine is acceptable. However, it is advised to use filtered sunlight or total shade.
5. Frost – Because they are sensitive to the cold, air plants. They dislike temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. If you live in a chilly climate, you might want to think about bringing your air plants inside during the winter.
6. Humidity – some types of air plants like it when the humidity is high. If the leaves of your air plant are too curled, the air may be too dry for the plant. Spraying or soaking air plants in water just isn’t enough moisture if the air is too dry. Consider soaking your air plant for 30 minutes each week in addition to your regular spraying if you believe it died from low humidity. or daily spray your plant. Additionally, you can put the air plant on a piece of driftwood or any object that can hold moisture. Another choice is to make a bed using a mixture of 50% perlite and 50% orchid potting mix. Spray the mixture every time you spray your plants. Your air plants might even drop roots into the mixture since they are so content.
7. Rust – Your air plant will develop dead areas as a result. Keep your plant away from anything that is rusty. Regular wire might rust in the future. For mounting air plants, use plastic-coated or galvanised wire.
8. Copper wire is well recognised for killing air plants. Copper is poisonous to air plants, particularly when it is regularly moist.
9. It’s typical for the mother air plant to pass away. Air plants develop, blossom, give birth to pups, and then go extinct. If your air plant has already bloomed and produced pups, it’s entirely possible that she is about to die. Don’t get rid of her just yet. Before she leaves, she might surprise you by bearing even another pup.
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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 utilise 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 generalisation 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!