Rotting Tillandsia Xerographica Air Plant

How to Revive a Sick Air Plant

by Jamie Beck

Whether you are a seasoned air plant collector or a beginner, there is going to come a time when one of your precious air plants gets sick, despite your best intentions and care. So what do you do? Just call it a loss and get a new plant? Well, before you do that, you can try to revive it.

If your air plant is looking dry, limp, or is losing its green color, it could be thirsty. First, take a look at your plant. Is it a little brown but still has some of its living green color? If yes, then move on to the next step. If not, sorry to say your plant might be too far gone.

One of the first steps to take when trying to revive an air plant that is a tad bit neglected is soaking. In this case, you will want to give it a good long soak for a few hours or even overnight. Use quality water like filtered, spring, or clean well water. Aquarium or pond water works well too as the plants will like the added nutrients. It is best to avoid artificially softened water or tap water that is high in chlorine/chloramine. If you do use tap water, allow it to sit out for a few hours to allow the chemicals to dissipate before soaking your air plants. 

After its long soak, take care to shake out any excess water from amongst the plant's leaves, and allow it to dry upside down on a towel for at least 4 hours to ensure that the plant is completely dry before putting it back in place. 

After a couple of days if you notice that your air plant still has curling leaves or looks a little limp you can give it another soak-this time for a few hours. This should help perk up your plant. But if its base is mushy or just doesn't seem to be reviving, it might be dead after-all. 

Your sick air plant might also have a few brown or dead leaves. It is ok to gently remove these dead leaves, but be careful not to remove too many. If your plant falls apart when you do this, it is probably already dead and past the point of saving. If this happens, it is possible that it could have died due to rot. Learn more about rot in our blog post" What's Wrong With My Air Plant" 


Tillandsia air plant falling apart


Additionally, if you notice white or brown leaf spots, or what looks like a fungus or rot, your plant might be battling a pest or is beginning to rot from lack of water, or even too much water! 

Tillandsia stricta air plant rot


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