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How to Care for an Air Plant

Our lovely plant care expert, Diane, shares her tips on how to care for your air plant, or Tillandsia. There are three main factors for how to care for an air plant: Water, Air, and Light. Depending on your environment, you will adjust these conditions to maintain a healthy plant. Pay attention to the appearance of your air plant; it will tell you whether it needs more water, less light, etc.


An air plant displayed in a decorative bowl

To water an air plant, place the plant face down in a bowl, sink, or container and let it soak for 20 minutes. Avoid watering for longer periods. After soaking, gently shake excess water off the base of the plant; sitting water will cause root rot and may destroy the plant. Some air plants do well when left to dry upside down on a paper towel. Drying time typically takes 4 hours. Water the air plant in the morning and avoid placing it in a containers within 4 hours. You can also water your plants using the "dunking" method, where you dunk the plants several times in the water, and gently shake off any excess.

If your plant is struggling, misting for a day or two after soaking can help. A healthy air plant will display wide-open leaves. A dehydrated air plant will display closed, curled leaves.

Never submerge the air plant bloom or flower, as it can cause the flower to rot.

Tap water should stand for several hours to dissipate any chemicals prior to watering. When possible its best to rain water. Avoid distilled or artificially softened water.

Every air plant is different and will require different watering schedules than others.


Air plants need clean air and good air circulation to survive and live a healthy life. After watering, air circulation is needed to ensure the air plant dries. Good air circulation will help the air plant to dry within 4 hours of watering; lower quality air circulation means a longer drying time. It is best for an air plant to dry within 4 hours. While air plants will do well in containers, they should not be displayed in enclosed containers. Be sure your air plant is completely dry before placing it into a container with restricted air circulation.

Plants located too close to air conditioning vents or heaters may dry out sooner and require more frequent watering.


 A pink tillandsia, air plant, in vibrant color

If keeping your air plant indoors, place the air plant within 3 to 5 feet of a window or near an artificial light source. Do not let your air plant get too much direct sun; this can damage your air plant - even for an indoor plant. If you keep your air plant outside, place it in a shaded area that does not receive full sun. A limited number of air plant varieties can tolerate direct sun light.

Air plants thrive well near a kitchen or bathroom. without direct light) - steam and moisture will do them well. Artificial light can sufficient, as long as the air plant is not too far from the light source and receives an adequate each day.

Over time it will become second nature on how to care for an air plant. You can expect many years of happiness with an air plant.

Need More Help?

We offer a no-fee Plant Clinic to help plants that are struggling or in poor health. Let us help you restore your plant to good health.

Learn more about Walden Floral Design's Plant Clinic:

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