How to Water Air Plants

Although air plants are generally very easy plants to care for, watering tends to be the make or break factor. Don’t worry though! We have some tips and tricks to make it easy and simple.

What type of water to use?

In their natural habitat, air plants get their nutrients from rain water, bird droppings, and dying bugs. If you can collect rainwater, this would be the best option, or if you have access to pond, creek, lake, or well water.

If not, the next best option is spring water.

You don’t want to use tap water or filtered water. City tap water tends to have less minerals and more chemicals. Filtered water has been stripped of many of the natural minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to air plants.

To soak or to mist?

It is best to soak your air plants for 20 minutes to an hour every week to 10 days, with a supplemental misting depending on current climate and time of year. The water should be lukewarm, as cold or hot water will shock the air plants. If you decide to solely mist your air plants, make sure to do this about once a day, less or more when needed. When you mist your plants, make sure to spray all of the leaves enough to wet them, but not to the point that they are dripping.

After a soaking or misting, it is extremely important to make sure your air plants can completely dry, especially before placing them back into a terrarium or container. To ensure your air plants dry, place them in some indirect sunlight. You can place them upside down on top of a towel to let the water drip down the leaves, similar to drying a cup. Allow a few hours for the plant to fully dry, as air plants are very susceptible to rotting if they are left wet too long.

The hardest part about watering is understanding that what your air plant needs depends largely on its environment, and we’re here to help!

What time of year is it? Are you running your heater often? Do you live in a humid or drier climate?

These are all factors that can help you better determine how much water your air plants need. If you live in a drier climate, your plant will need to be watered more frequently than if you live somewhere with more humidity.

Watering can also depend on the time of year. During summer, the air is hotter and dryer, so you will need to water more. During Winter, your air plants will need a little less water because it will be cooler and more humid. Although if you are running a heater or using a fireplace, this will dry the air a little bit as well.

Follow these simple tips and tricks, and your air plants will thrive.

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  • Spraying them once a day (or more) is very unnecessary, no matter the climate. Also, tap water is fine as long as you allow the chlorine to evaporate before using it. Just store it in an open bucket for a few days. No need to collect rainwater or hike out to a lake or pond or spend a fortune BUYING water for your plants. Tillandsias are simply not that fragile.

    I live in an inland valley in California, where it gets pretty hot and dry in the summer, and breezy and cold in the winter. So I’m either running a gas furnace or an air conditioner. My whole tillandsia collection is indoors. I water once per week by misting with “aged” tap water that is alkaline (8.1-8.4). I add a pinch of Epiphytes Delight to each refill of my spray bottle. All plants are doing wonderfully….. flowers and offsets!

    Pnebulifer on
  • I mist my plants every other day and give them an hour soak once a week in a 5 gallon bucket of rainwater, I have maybe 30 or 40 different plants and get quite a few pups. It is also nice when they bloom. I have some that are 8 or 10 years old.

    Bill Crawford on
  • I have been advised by a grower to soak overnight to get the plants to bloom. Any thoughts??

    Glenn Frederick on
  • How often do I water when my room can vary from 17 to 25 degree in the winter time We have an open fire

    M Lamont on
  • HI – I’ve been experimenting with quite a variety of air plants for well over a year now and for the most part have had very good luck with almost all of them. About every 10 days – sometimes it’ll turn into a couple weeks,+/- I DO COMPLETELY SUBMERGE my air plants in a tub filled with rain water (tepid or just a hint warm – I’ll even add some heated water if what’s in the tub feels cold to me) – and I will turn the ones that might have part left out in the air. Generally I set a timer (or 2 or 3!!) for an hour. Sometimes I don’t hear the timer go off, or I get side-tracked and the soaking/bathing time has turned into more, even much more than an hour. Since I’m bad about retaining formal names, really the only plants I’ve had ‘issues’ with are the large, bulb-type plants. Bulbs as big as my fist. Accidentally purchased a dozen of those; gave many away, but eventually each of the ones I kept died. Too much/too little bathing? No idea. Guaranteed for 30 days, which they DID fine, or so I thought. Some of the thinner ‘leafed’ air plants seem to need a bit more moisture more frequently than others, but I’ve yet to cater to them as I probably should, but my losses have been very few, thankfully. I don’t know if my epistle here helps, but that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! Enjoy your air plants!

    E Diane Brown on

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