Air plants are becoming increasingly popular options as houseplants these days however their name can be somewhat misleading. A lot of people believe that they can survive solely on air, this isn’t true and there is much more that goes into caring for air plants.
For your air plant to thrive you need to ensure that it is being watered correctly, receive the correct amount of light and humidity. Yes that’s right, you do need to water your air plant, it cant just survive on air alone.
How to water an air plant
Watering an air plant is probably the hardest part about their care. Some people swear by dunking their plants, others will only mist them, some do both. The main goal obviously is for the plant to absorb water, but what is the best way to go about it?
For me, I find the best way is to soak an air plant. The reason for this is that you can ensure that your plant is getting enough water, and with proper drainage you will also prevent the plant from rotting.
How to soak your air plant:
– Every one to two weeks, soak your air plant in room temperature water for 5-10 minutes.
– After soaking gently shake excess water from your plant. Turn it upside down and place it on a towel in a bright space. Air plants will quickly rot if they are allowed to stand in excess water that is why the drying/drainage process is so important.
– From the time soaking ends, the plant should be able to dry fully in no more than 3 hours. If your plant stays wet longer than this, it may rot. Try placing it in a brighter place with more air circulation to facilitate faster drying. Don’t stress out about this too much but it is definitely something to keep in mind when you’re watering your plants. It should only be 1-3 hours to dry from the time of soaking however.
How to mist your air plant:
– You can mist your plant once a week or so, with a trigger bottle use fine mist to coat your air plant thoroughly, so that the entire surface of the plant is moistened but not so much that there is water dripping down into the plant. You want to give it enough water to absorb, not swim.
– When the weather is dry or hot you will need to mist more frequently, if it is more humid, less frequently.
Whether you’re soaking or misting it is important to do all watering in the morning. Evening soaking or misting disrupts the plants ability to respire overnight, and extends drying time. If they take too long to dry then that can lead to rot.
How to know if your air plant is getting enough water
Signs of under-watering your air plant include the leaf tips turning brown or crispy. The natural concave shape of air plant leaves tends to become more exaggerated when under-watered as well. When you notice this it is best to give it a good soaking and it will come back to life in no time!
On the other hand if your air plant has been over-watered, it’s often too late to save it. If you notice base of the plant turns brown or black, and leaves are falling out or off from the center, your plant has likely been overwatered and may be in the beginning stages of rot and it can be very difficult to bring them back from this point.
How much light does an air plant need?
For air plants to thrive they need bright, indirect light. You can find this in southern or eastern facing windows because these will receive sun for most of the day. Rooms with north-facing windows work well, too, as long as the plant is placed close to the window, and the window isn’t blocked by trees or the house next door. Western light tends to come late in the day, and can be very hot and intense. Careful – you don’t want to fry your air plant!
Generally, the more humid the environment is, the more light an air plant can take. This is because they don’t dry out as quickly. On the flip side, if your air plant is getting a lot of sun it would be a good idea to gently mist the plant more often to stop it from drying out.
A great place to keep your air plan is in a sunny bathroom, this is because the humidity from your shower will take care of most plant misting for you and provide a perfect growing environment.
The life cycle of an air plant
Did you know that air plants can flower? Well they do! Once in their life time they bloom, this can last from a couple of days to a few months. They range in colour, too. From red to blue, pink and purple! Flowering is the peak of the air plant life cycle, but also marks the beginning of the plant’s old age – after it flowers, the plant will eventually die.
It isn’t all bad news though! Just before, during or after flowering, depending on the species, your air plant will reproduce by sending out 2-8 “pups”. These baby air plants, which start out very small, will eventually grow into their own mother plants. Pups can safely be separated from the mother plant and grown into new plants. Careful not to remove them too early, as they’re actually receiving nutrients from the mother air plant.
So now you know all about air plants and how to care for them! You can use your new skills as an air plant pro ad grow many more they make great gifts and then you can teach your friends how to help them thrive too!