Here at the Air Plant Supply Co., we have found that air plants do best when you soak them in water. It's important to remember that air plants take in all their nutrients through their leaves not through the roots.The roots serve only to attach the air plant to a host tree or rock or even the ground, nothing more. Soak your air plants in a bowl of water for 20 minutes to an hour every week to 10 days is best. Submerge the entire plant. If your plant has a bloom, you may wish to keep the bud above the water to not disturb it, although in nature they get wet all the time. Make sure the water is lukewarm or room temperature so you don’t shock the plant.
Because air plants get many of their nutrients directly from the water, it is best to give them water that has plenty of minerals and nutrients in it. Rainwater is best, but if you don’t have an easy way to capture rainwater, the next best thing is spring water. You could also use creek water, lake water or well water. Do no use distilled or filtered water. Distilled and filtered water have less minerals and nutrients. Many municipal water systems have more chemicals and less minerals and nutrients. If you are PH conscious, air plants prefer slightly acidic water. The best range is between 5.5 to 6.0 alkalinity. City water from the tap is most often higher than this range and therefore not ideal for air plants. Do not be too worried about PH levels. Good clean water will be fine.
The second most important part of watering your air plants is properly drying them afterwards. It is very important to lay your air plants out on a dish towel on their side or upside down to let them dry completely. This is especially important for the larger species like Xerographica, Streptophylla, and Sparkler. They should be fully dry to the touch within 2 hours after their bath. Do not return your air plants to terrariums and vases until they are completely dry. Watering plants and then immediately placing them inside an enclosure may cause rot to develop in your plant. If you follow these simple watering instructions you will have happy and healthy air plants.
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Air plants are actually called Tillandsias, which happens to be part of the Bromeliaceae or Bromeliad species. They have also been labelled as Epiphytes, as they do not need to have soil to grow. The air plant is often found in the jungles, mountain tops, and deserts, of Central and South America, and Mexico and the the southern United States in North America.