Watering Air Plants
How Air Plants Drink
Tillandsia air plants absorb water through their leaves. Not their roots - their roots mainly serve to attached themselves to objects like wood or other plants.
Most air plants appear velvety because they are covered in trichomes. These are hair like structures with which they absorb water. Trichomes make some air plants look like they are covered in a white powder.
How to Water Air Plants
Water your air plant with a spray bottle 1-3 times weekly depending on the weather. Less in winter, more in summer. Wet the plant all over. Hang the plant upside down so the excess water drips off and does not get trapped in the base. Or shake the excess water off your plant before placing it back in its spot.
Air plants don’t like chlorine. Water straight from the tap may contain chlorine and may cause the tips of air plant leaves go brown.
If your local tap water is chlorinated simply fill up your spray bottle from the tap and leave it stand with the lid off for 24hours. The chlorine will evaporate and you can safely use it on your air plant.
Air plants love rain water.
Pond water can contain extra nutrients which air plants love.
Dry Your Air plant
Your air plant should dry completely within four hours or watering. Your plant is ‘dry’ when the trichomes become visible- the leaves will be velvety and silvery. If it is not drying out in a few hours, water it less frequently and water is lightly without wetting it completely. Your air plant needs to dry thoroughly. Never water your plant if it already looks wet, or you risk overwatering it.
Soaking Air Plants
If you are not misting your air plants regularly you can soak them in a bath of water for 30 minutes once weekly. Any more than once weekly will be overwatering. Don’t mist and soak plants or they will end up overwatered.
After soaking them place them somewhere with good air flow so they can dry out within a few hours.
Most species don’t mind being soaked. Especially the ones where the base is not tightly compacted with leaves.
Other air plants, with a fat compacted base, will absorb too much water if soaked. They are more prone to soaking up too much water and may rot if soaked. These are typically air plant species with a large clump or bulb at the base.
Overwatering Air Plants
Less is more. Many more air plants have died from overwatering than have died from dehydration.
You won’t know you have overwatered your air plant until it is already dead. Some leaves may still look ok but the base is rotten to the core.
Air plants are so cute that it is easy to want to over care for them and water them too much.
Air plants handle dry conditions better than they handle wet conditions. They can stretch to weeks without water, but over water them and they will rot fairly quickly.
If you think your plant is over watered then one thing you can do is remove the outside dead/dry leaves from the base. If those leaves are not living then they are just holding water like a wet blanket on your plant’s base. Removing them give your plant an opportunity to dry out at the base.