Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra Being Dunked in a Water Bowl

FAQ: Watering Your Air Plants

10 comments by Jamie Beck

While Tillandsia (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 Often Do I Water My Air Plants? 

This depends largely on your climate and where you're keeping the air plants, as well as the Tillandsia species itself and what type of enviornment it grows in nature. Generally, air plants should be watered once a week. However, this can vary depending on factors such as humidity, temperature, and the specific type of air plant you have. It's important to monitor the moisture level of your air plants and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Supplemental misting between regular waterings is typically necessary for dry climates or if your plants are in a location that is heated. If you notice the color of the plant becoming slightly dull and the leaves begin to close or curl, this is an indication that your Tillandsia is thirsty and you should give them good soak. 

What is the Best Way to Water Air Plants?

Again, you'll want to adjust watering methods based on your climate and air plant species but for most air plants and environments we recommend that you soak your plants in water at least once per week. You can use a bowl, bucket or your sink. Something that allows you to completely submerge the air plants. Soak for 20-30 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. If you live in an area with more humidity or you have an air plant that is more xeric in nature, you may want to shorten the duration and frequency of the soaks.


Tillandsia Air Plants Taking a Water Bath in a Wooden Bowl

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 air 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!



After 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 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.


Tillandsia Red Abdita Air Plant


You can also mist the plants in between waterings. This can be a great way to keep plants healthy and give some extra love if you live in a drier climate. Misting is not a substitution for a good soak though, unless you have one of the few types of air plants that prefer low moisture like the T. tectorum (which we recommend only misting) or the T. xerographica (which we recommend dunking instead of soaking). For more information on these three watering techniques, check out our watering blogs on Soaking, Misting, and Dunking.  

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 is 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 deprive these plants of the nutrients they need. Also, don't use artificially softened water, as it is often too high in salt content for Tillandsia.


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, and also because air plants use the evening time to respire carbon dioxide and won't be able to "breathe" properly if they are wet in the evenings. This process is referred to as CAM, learn more about CAM in our article that explains how air plants breathe. 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.

watering air plants infographic

 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 Watering and Care Pages. 



  • Cheryl Williams1

    I have a question about watering the plants with blooms on them. I understand you don’t get the blooms wet and you don’t get the bottoms wet, so how do you water them? Do you bring all air plants in the house in the winter? I live in Largo, FL and it doesn’t get really cold often but it does now and then. The wind is the worst problem I think as far as cold goes since we don’t have snow. I’d appreciate any help you can offer.

  • sharon yap

    Recently I just gotten an aquarium and I intend to anchor my 3 air plants to a branch and let them sit on top of the tank to make sure they receive constant moisture in the office. Do I still need to mist and soak them as per normal given that they should recive enough from the evaporated water from the tank?

  • Amber

    I should have added to my last question that our well water goes through a water softener. To bad they can’t live on smoke, they would have it made here.

  • Amber

    We have well water (I won’t even drink it so I wouldn’t expect my plants to like it either) We live in north eastern Washington so rain has not been an option. I buy and drink spring water so that’s what I water my air plants with. They seem to be doing OK but I haven’t had them long. Is there a problem watering with spring water?

  • Richard cook

    I don’t recommend gluing air plants to driftwood because of watering challenges. I lost 5 of six due to rot when I soaked them the first time – the wood retained too much water – seems obvious in retrospect I suppose but I was an air plant neophyte.

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