Air Plant Care Basics
Air Plant Care Basics
Air plants are very hardy and easy to care for. We have seen them survive up to 2 weeks in a shipping box with no light or water (Do not try that at home). When your new air plants arrive you will want to open the box immediately. We ship our air plants via fast 2 to 3 day Priority Mail but like all plants they want light, air and water.
To lower the stress of the shipping you will want to soak your air plants in room temperature water for 20 to 60 minutes. Just fill a bowl with good water and submerge the plants completely. Municipal water often has some chemicals such as chlorine and/or fluoride. If you have well water, pond water, creek water or rain water, your air plants will love that. You can also use bottled spring water. Do not use distilled water as it has fewer natural minerals and nutrients that air plants like. As air plants do not live in soil they get all of their moisture, light and nutrients through their leaves.
You may notice that your air plants have a white, fuzzy, layer on their leaves, especially after a good watering. These are called Trichomes. Trichomes are small outgrowths on the leaves which absorb water and nutrients for the plants. They are not mold or a fungus.
After their soak, remove your air plants from the water, gently shake off the excess water and lay the plants out on their side or upside down so they can dry completely before placing them in a display. A nice sunny window sill is a perfect place to let them dry and soak up some sunlight. Do not place your air plants in direct sunlight. They like bright indirect sunlight. If you are planning on putting them in a glass terrarium, a wall hanging display, or any kind of enclosure (or in a hole to stand them up), it is important that you allow your air plants to dry completely. Letting the air plants dry completely reduces the risk of your plants rotting.
Your air plants should dry within one to two hours. Once they are dry you will want to display them in an area with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Do not place them in direct sunlight as this will dry them out very quickly. Typically, your air plants will only need a 30 minute soak in water once per week. If they are in a very dry or warm environment you may need to spritz them with water once a week in addition to the soak. You will know if they are getting too dry if their leaves begin to curl. Give them a good soak if you see this happening. Remember that despite their name, air plants need a little more than just air to live happily.
If you display your air plants in a manner that does not allow soaking them in a bowl of water you can spray them with water two or three times per week instead.
MORE THAN AIR
Yes, Air Plants Need Water to Survive
Should I mist or should I soak my air plants? Read about the different hydration techniques below
Air Plant Watering: Misting (Is It Enough?)
The amount of water an air plant requires depends on the species and the environment in which it lives.
Xeric plants, such as Tillandsia tectorum and Xerographica, with their leaves full of fuzzy trichomes, derive from arid climates in which they survive off the moisture from fog and morning dew.
On the contrary, mesic species like Bulbosa and Abdita are accustomed to more rainfall and humidity. (Learn more about the three common air plant environments: Mesic, Xeric and Hydric from our informational blog.) While we can’t replicate these climates in our homes, we can take into consideration their natural habitats and thus determine how frequently to water the plants using soaking, dunking, and misting methods!
There are very few species of Tillandsia that benefit from only an occasional mist of water as their primary hydration source. A light application of water, such as misting, will not fully absorb through the plant’s leaves and the water will most likely evaporate before it can nourish the plant. A deeper, more thorough method of dunking or soaking is recommended for most plants every week to ten days to ensure proper hydration. Misting is a great way to supplement hydration between these waterings but don’t solely rely on it. Depending on the environment and species of air plant, supplemental misting can be done one to three times a week!
Hydrated Or Dehydrated Air Plant?
An air plant in need of more water will often have leaves that curl inward. Healthy and hydrated plants will have leaves that are more open and flat. When misting, be sure to reach all surfaces and completely drench the plant if it has been quite some time since it has been fully submerged in water. To protect your furniture, walls, or electronics, try misting outdoors or over a sink or bathtub.
If you have air plant displays that do not allow for the soaking or dunking techniques and misting is the only option, be sure to water the plants more frequently. A heavy mist is recommended every one to three days and always be sure there is plenty of indirect light and ventilation so the plant dries properly.