I used to be a serial air plant killer. We used to bring those poor things into our home with every intention of giving them the best life ever, and a few weeks later, BAM… dead. I had no idea how to take care of air plants, but that’s all changed.
Believe me when I say, if I can keep air plants alive, you can do it too. Just like caring for any living thing on Earth, all you need are the right tools and knowledge to keep your air plants happy and healthy.
I’m here to help you along the way, to reveal to you the three secrets for healthy air plants.
Light Requirements for Air Plants
Air plants are really quite magical because they actually thrive when kept in artificial light. Hello, perfect new office plant! These babies will grow very well when kept anywhere between 6 inches and 3 feet from florescent lighting.
If you don’t wish to keep your air plants under artificial lighting, they also do great in natural light, but keep them out of direct sunlight for best results. An air plant sitting in a super sunny window will die very quickly. Indirect light coming from a bright window is best.
We like to keep some of our plants near our AeroGarden, as the ambient light from the LEDs is great for air plants. Some of our other plants are kept in windowsills on south facing windows, so they get lots of light but no sunshine.
Water Requirements for Air Plants
When learning how to take care of air plants, watering is one of the toughest things to master. Air plants generally need water once a week. You may have been told that your air plants will absorb enough water from the environment to keep them hydrated, but generally that’s not true. Unless you live in an extremely humid environment (like the jungle), then you’ll need to water your air plants.
If your environment is very dry, like indoors during the winter, you may need to water your air plants twice a week, but once a week is a good general rule. Be careful not to overwater your air plants, as it’s more likely you’ll kill them from too much water than from not enough.
There are two options for watering air plants, submersion and spraying.
To Water Air Plants by Submersion
Fill a bowl with room temperature (not hot or cold or it will shock them) filtered or bottled water. Submerse the air plants underwater for 30 seconds to one minute, then remove the air plants and let them dry off for an hour on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. After they’re mostly dry you can return them to their holder.
You might think to yourself, well if a little water is good, a lot of water is better, so I’m going to just leave my air plants in the water for awhile and when I think of it I’ll take them back out. Don’t do this. As a former lazy gardener and air plant killer, this used to be my method. A little water is plenty for air plants, leaving them submerged in water for longer than a minute can and will kill them.
To Water Air Plants by Spraying
Fill a clean spray bottle with room temperature filtered or bottled water, make sure to use a bottle that’s never been filled with chemicals! Turn the spray nozzle until only a light mist comes out. Mist your air plants gently with water two to three times per week.
Don’t use tap water, just don’t. And if you must, let it sit out in a bowl for at least 24 hours so any traces of chlorine can evaporate out before you put your air plants into it. Chlorine is bad for all plants, but especially bad for these sensitive cute little air plants.
Physical Environment and Handling Requirements for Air Plants
Handling your air plants
Always use a gentle touch when handling these delicate little plants. While many plants can handle being, well, man handled, air plants can not. Touch them as little as possible, and when you do be sure not to crush or bend any of their parts.
Finding an air plant holder
Finding the perfect place for your new air plant is the most fun part of owning one! There are tons of creative ways to display your air plants, from using a weathered log to a pot specifically designed for air plants.
Speaking of which, not to brag, but we happen to have an assortment of air plant holders available in our Etsy shop! We feature little hedgies and octopus air plant pots, and every purchase comes with the featured air plant as well.
If these don’t tickle your fancy, we strongly recommend checking out other sellers on Etsy that feature handmade air plant holders. We’re big believers in supporting small business, and Etsy is chock full of them!
We hope that your new air plant brings you lots of joy, and we hope this little guide helped you learn how to take care for air plants! If you have any questions I would love to hear them in the comments! I read and respond to every single one!