Air Plant Watering: The Soaking Method

Air Plant Watering: The Soaking Method

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.


  • Shawn

    When the plants are placed in the bathroom in the shower area which receives a lot of moisture is it still necessary to mist them weekly?

  • Rosemary Glenn

    The plants arrived and are gorgeous!
    Question: I live in a very dry climate (Albuquerque, NM, to remind you), and am very worried about watering enough. Last time I think I watered my plants too much. In this climate, is soaking them completely for 30 minutes sufficient? Last time I think I sprayed them once a week, so that might not have been enough, even. Some lasted about a year, but eventually they all kicked.
    Also, my municipal water is of course treated Rio Grande water that is also chlorinated. For my traditional plants, I let a pitcher of water sit for 24 hours before I use it on plants. I have a Brita filter to use to make coffee. I don’t have access to well water. Any suggestions? I can let a pitcher sit outside for several days. Would that be the best? Our water is also very hard (calcium and magnesium desert water) so I hope that doesn’t hurt — will acidify if needed. Thanks for your help!! (I am a retired geologist and love displaying the plants with my rocks!)

  • Bernie

    I have been misting all of my air plants is this ok and does this apply {misting} to all including stag horn fern. I have been applying some fertilizer to the mist spray. I this also ok or a mistake. Love your articles


  • Pat

    actually a question…I have 3 beautiful xerographicas. One has a root that is a bit softer than the others. Have I over watered? Any way to save this plant? thanks….

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