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How to Water Air Plants

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Tillandisia, better known as air plants, are unlike most plants. They do not absorb water through their roots, but rather through their leaves. While air plants can often survive without water for long periods of time, they do not thrive. Rather, they stop growing and go into a dormant stage. If you want your air plants to thrive, provide it with adequate care, including regular waterings.

Plan to water indoor air plants two to three times per week, especially if your home is hot and dry or if the air conditioner unit is running (which dries out the air). Outdoors, rainfall and humidity may sufficiently water an air plant, but when it does not rain for two weeks or more, water it so it does not start to dry out and go into a dormant stage to conserve water.

Water an indoor plant by either soaking it in a bucket or setting it in an area where you can mimic rainfall with a hose or in a sink. Soak the plant for about three to five seconds (especially when it’s in bloom) or water it for about 30 seconds. You just want to get the plant’s surface wet.

Soak an indoor plant for two to three hours once every two weeks in homes where the heat or air conditioning is on, but not when the air plant is in bloom. Also, soak the plant before you go on vacation, even if it is in bloom. It’s better to save the plant than the blooms.

Turn the plant upside down to drain out any excess water after each watering. Move it to a well-ventilated area in direct light so the plant can dry. It will absorb water at the same time. Do not leave the plant there for more than four hours before moving it back to its original location, which should be in indirect light.

Mist an air plant with a spray bottle on days you do not water it, especially in low humidity. This will not adequately water an air plant, but will help it thrive.

 

Tip

  • Pull on an outer leaf if you are not sure if it needs watering. If it pulls off without resistance, it does not need water. If it resists, it does need water. Do not do this too often.

Warning

  • Do not use distilled water to water air plants.

About the Author

 

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.