Air plants are truly unique within the plant world—absorbing moisture and nutrients through their leaves rather than their roots. They grow happily without soil although contrary to what their common name may lead you to believe, they do require more than just air in order to survive. This often leads to confusion about how to properly water these tropical plants—and with lots of conflicting information out there regarding the best way to water air plants, it can be tricky to figure out where to start. Don’t worry, we’re here to set the record straight so you can keep your air plants happy and hydrated indoors.
There are three ways to water air plants: soaking, misting, and dunking. Most air plants can be watered by soaking, while certain species prefer the misting or dunking method. Figuring out the variety of air plant that you have will help you make the correct decision when it comes to watering.
When to Water Air Plants
Water your air plants in the morning to ensure that they have enough time to dry during the day. How often you should water your air plants will vary slightly depending on their growing environment as well as the type of air plant that you have. If the plants are growing in a location that is consistently humid, they may need to be watered less often than if they are growing in dry conditions.
However, as a general rule, most air plants will need to be watered once every 1 to 2 weeks when they are grown in typical household conditions. Make sure that you read up on the type of air plant that you have as well to confirm how often it should be watered.
Equipment / Tools
- Spray bottle or mister
- Bowl, cup, or vase
- Filtered or distilled water
How to Water Air Plants by Soaking
Most air plant varieties can be successfully watered using this method.
Prepare a Vessel
Fill a small bowl, cup, or vase with lukewarm filtered or distilled water.
Submerge the Plant
Place your air plant in the water, ensuring that the majority of the leaves are submerged, and leave the plant to soak for 20 to 40 minutes.
Shake and Air Dry
Once the plant is done soaking, remove it from the water and shake the excess water from the leaves. Then, place the plant upside down on a towel for 10 to 15 minutes so it can drip-dry before returning it to its regular growing location. This will help to prevent any remaining water from sitting on the leaves and causing rot.
How to Water Air Plants by Misting
Certain air plants such as the Tillandsia tectorum should be watered by misting rather than soaking or dunking due to its extra fuzzy trichomes. Other fuzzy varieties of air plants can be watered using this method as well.
Prepare the Water and Plant
Fill a spray bottle or mister with lukewarm filtered or distilled water. If your air plant is growing in a glass terrarium or enclosed space, remove the plant before watering. You don’t want excess moisture getting trapped in the terrarium which could lead to stem rot.
Mist your air plant thoroughly until the leaves are moist but not dripping. Let it dry before returning it to its original location.
How to Water Air Plants By Dunking
Air plants with curled leaves such as the Tillandsia xerographica prefer to be watered with a quick dunk rather than a long soak. This particular Tillandsia variety also does not need to be watered as often as some of its smaller relatives. Once every 2 to 3 weeks at the most should be sufficient.
Prepare the Water
Fill a bowl, cup, or vase with lukewarm filtered or distilled water.
Dunk the plant in the water, ensuring that the whole plant is submerged, and then remove it from the water right away.
Shake and Dry Upside-Down
Shake any excess water from the leaves of the plant and set it upside down on a towel to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before returning it to its original location.
Signs That Your Air Plant is Overwatered
Since it is not always easy to tell when air plants need to be watered, overwatering is one of the most common causes of indoor air plant deaths. If you notice your air plant rapidly losing leaves, or the base of your air plant turning brown and mushy, it is likely that you have overwatered your plant. Unfortunately, once the damage has been done there is not much you can do to save an overwatered air plant. Setting the plant aside for several weeks and avoiding any further watering is your best bet for reviving a soggy air plant.