Gardening 101: How to Water an Air Plant by

Issue 42 · Dark Shadows · October 20, 2014

Gardening 101: How to Water an Air Plant

Issue 42 · Dark Shadows · October 20, 2014

Pity the poor tillandsia. With its affable, low-maintenance personality, your little friend tends to get ignored on a bookshelf. Its nickname—air plant—may reinforce the idea that it needs no special attention. But while it doesn't need soil, it does need to eat. Here's how to water it:

Photography by John Merkl for Gardenista.

gardening 101 how to water an air plant l Gardenista

Above: There are hundreds of different species of tillandsia (and thanks to rampant hybridizing, it's hard to find two that look identical). But one thing they all have in common is they need water to live. 

gardening 101 how to water an air plant l Gardenista

Above: A rule of thumb: water a tillandsia once a week.

Fine tune the rule: If the air in your house is particularly dry, water more often (every five days) and in a humid environment, water every ten days. 

gardening 101 how to water an air plant l Gardenista

Instructions:

Step 1: Fill a basin, bowl, or sink with water and dunk your air plants. 

Step 2: After 10 minutes, remove the plants from the water and spread them on a towel to dry.

gardening 101 how to water an air plant l Gardenista

Step 3: If the plants still seem wet, turn them upside down to shake water out of their bases.

Be particularly careful with bulbous tillandsias (you will recognize them because they have visible bulbs at their bases) because if they get waterlogged, they will rot. 

gardening 101 how to water an air plant l Gardenista

Step 4: On days you don't water, you can mist tillandsias lightly. You will notice that as they soak up water, air plants will turn a more vivid color of green.

Gardening 101: Is tap water safe for plants? l Gardenista

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