We get lots of questions on air plant watering methods on our Facebook Page so I wanted to expand on this a bit. While tillandsias (AKA Air Plants) are easier to care for than many other plant varieties, they do require some maintenance and TLC - and water is a big factor in their overall health. Here are some questions we often get on the subject of watering your air plants, and our advice:
How much water do my air plants need and how frequently do I water them?
This depends largely on your climate, and where you're keeping the air plants. We live in Tampa, FL so most of the year, it's fairly humid here, and we're not running the heat in our house during the winter like our friends up North (not trying to rub it in, I swear!). We normally water our plants about once per week, but those in dryer climates will need to water more frequently. You will find that you might need to water your plants less depending on the time of year. Also, it depends where in your home or workspace you keep them. A humid bathroom will keep the plants more moist, but you'll probably need to give more frequent watering to those near an air vent or heat source. (Note: we don't recommend you keep your plants near heat sources).
Note: while humidity can delay the drying process, humidity itself is not a sufficient watering method!
What is the best way to water air plants?
Again, you'll want to adjust watering methods based on your climate, but we recommend that you soak your plants in water at least once per week. You can use a bowl, bucket, your sink...something that allows you to completely submerge the air plants. Soak for 30-60 minutes at least once a week, and if you're in a drier climate, give them a longer soak for an hour or more every other week.
After soaking, you will want to let the air plants dry completely. Turn them over and lightly shake them or set them to dry with their leaves facing down. Don't let water sit in the leaves, or the plants could rot. The plants should be put somewhere that has good circulation, and the plants should be able to completely dry within 4 hours. If your plants live in globe or terrarium, make sure they completely dry out before returning them home!
Once soaking your plants, you will notice how wide and open the leaves are and how much more "happy" they appear. This is how a hydrated air plant should look! Over time you will notice that when the color becomes slightly dull and the leaves begin to close/curl that your tillandsia is thirsty and you should give them another good soak. If your air plant is really struggling, try soaking for several hours or even over night to see if you can re-hydrate the plant. As always, make sure they are able to dry out completely before soaking or misting again.
You can also mist the plants in between waterings. This can be a great way to keep plants healthy and give the some extra love if you live in a drier climate. Misting is not a substitution for a good soak, though, so soak those plants!
What kind of water should I use? Is tap water OK to water my air plants with?
Air plants aren't too picky when it comes to water, and most tap water is just fine, but it depends on the water quality in your area. The best water to use: rain water, aquarium water, or pond water because these are more rich in nutrients (note: if using one of these waters, don't add any additional fertilizer). If you are using tap water, let the water stand for several hours for the chlorine to dissipate(maybe 24 hours in some areas.)
Do NOT use distilled water as this type of water is actually too "pure" and will pull the nutrients out of the plants. Also, don't use artificially softened water, as it is often too high in salt content for tillandsias.
What is the best time of day to water my air plants?
We recommend soaking your air plants in the morning so that they dry thoroughly over the course of the day. Some indirect sunlight will help dry them more quickly, and you can check on them before you go to bed and put them back in their terrariums or displays.
Those are the most common questions we get about watering air plants. Did we answer yours? If not, just ask! Need more air plant care tips? Visit our Air Plant Care Page.
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