Care for Air Plants

Care for Air Plants

Air plants generally prefer outdoor or breezy environments, but will grow well indoors provided they're in a well-lit spot. During hot and drier periods, mist a couple of times a week to help keep them happy. During winter, they will survive well without much watering. Misting them once a month is usually enough.

Air plants are members of the bromeliad family. They’re a large group of plants in the genus Tillandsia, of which there are hundreds of different species. Air plants are epiphytes that use their small roots to attach themselves to the branches of trees and shrubs, rather than growing in the ground. Because they don’t rob nutrients from their host plant, air plants are not considered parasites. Instead, they just use their host as an anchor and a place to live.

Air plants absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves, instead of through their roots. Any roots present on members of the Tillandsia genus are used for securing the plant to the tree on which it lives. Some varieties of air plants are large with broad, strap-like leaves, while others are tiny with thread-like leaves.

How to water air plants

The first step of proper air plant care is to ensure the leaves receive the right amount of moisture. Many people think that air plants can live on air alone, hence their common name. But that’s definitely not the case. Instead, the name air plant comes from the fact that the plants don’t require soil to live, instead deriving their moisture and nutrition from the air.

  • Watering air plants via misting: For this method, use a spray bottle or  plant mister to spritz air plants with water every day or two. After spraying the entire plant, place the damp air plant on a towel to dry for a few hours before putting it back in its decorative container or arrangement.

  • How to water air plants in a bowl or sink of water: This is the best method of watering air plants as it really allows the water to soak into the plants. To water air plants this way, fill a bowl or sink with water and float the air plants in the water for 20 minutes to an hour every week. Then, take the plants out of the water, tip them upside down so any excess water can drain away where it won’t cause rot, and then place them on a towel to dry before putting them back on display. 

    Signs that your air plant needs to be watered more frequently include curling or rolling leaves, leaves that fold together, or browning of the outermost leaves. Typically the green-leaved air plant varieties need to be watered more frequently than the gray-leaved ones.

    If you keep your air plant inside a vessel, such as a terrarium or pot take it out prior to watering. Then allow the air plant to fully dry before returning it to its decorative setting.

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