Watering Air Plants

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Earlier this year I discovered air plants and ordered an obscene amount of them from Airplant Supply Co, Air Plant Design Studio, and Plants for Pets.

Among my favorites are the Xerographica and the Caput Medusae. They are beautiful and have proved to be heartier than some other varieties I have.

In a rush to better understand how to care for them I realized that there was a lot of different and confusing information on the web about these and a lot of what is right depends on the existing environment and humidity levels. I have had a few casualties since bringing these into the house (eager over-watering) but all has been well for a couple months now, luckily.

Someone once told me that these plants are great because they don’t need dirt or water, which sounded wild and wrong to me and after some research I uncovered that this is of course not the case. They can certainly absorb water from the air and when misted, but in most situations this will not be enough. It’s all a fairly delicate balance though because these plants can more easily be over-watered than under-watered, leading to rot. I often see these listed as great for beginners but I would argue against that; plus they are too expensive to experiment with!

The best water schedule for me has been once a week soakings, lasting about 1-2 hours each time and up to 3 in winter months. Let a bowl of water sit for a couple hours (or overnight) before placing the air plants in to bring to room temperature, or you can use rain water. After soaking be sure to shake off excess water well and lay on a towel to dry with a small fan pointed at them.

Once a month I mix in Bromeliad Tillandsia Food and will put them all out on the covered patio on very warm and wet days. A local garden center had mentioned that there are some weeks it’s humid enough to just mist them instead of soaking, but I have personally found that a home environment is not a proper comparison for a hot and humid greenhouse.

I keep them in bright indirect light in the house.

Photo of a medium sized xerographica air plant

Photo of a medium sized xerographica air plant on shelf

Photo of air plants in framed holder

Photo of air plants soaking in water