Reviving Air Plants: How to Bring Your Tillandsia Back to Life

Air plants, also known as Tillandsia, have a unique quality that sets them apart from other plants – they don’t rely on soil for survival. Instead, they draw moisture and nutrients through their leaves. These fascinating plants require minimal care, but sometimes they can start to look unhealthy, with symptoms like shriveling, browning, or drooping. The question arises: Can you revive an air plant in this condition? The answer is yes, as long as the plant hasn’t deteriorated too much. In this article, we will explore the process of reviving a Tillandsia and bringing it back to its former glory.

The Key to Reviving an Air Plant

If your Tillandsia has seen better days, especially if it appears shriveled or brown, chances are it’s incredibly thirsty. While misting is often recommended, it doesn’t usually provide sufficient moisture to keep the plant healthy and hydrated.

To revive a Tillandsia, it’s essential to return it to a state of optimal hydration. The easiest way to achieve this is by fully immersing the plant in a bowl or bucket of lukewarm water. To prevent the plant from floating to the surface, you may need to secure it to a heavy object.

Place the bowl in a warm location and let the plant soak for around 12 hours. Afterward, remove the Tillandsia from the water and allow it to air dry on a layer of paper towels. Once the plant is completely dry, you can return it to its regular spot.

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If the plant still appears dry and sickly, you can repeat the process, but this time, soak the Tillandsia for only about four hours. Remember to gently shake the plant upside-down afterward, removing any excess moisture from the leaves.

Caring for Air Plants

To keep your Tillandsia well hydrated, it’s important to soak the plant in a bowl of warm water for about an hour every week during the summer. During the winter months, this can be decreased to once every three weeks. Some air plants may only require a 10-minute soak, so be sure to observe your plant closely to determine its specific needs. If the leaves start to appear swollen, it means the plant is absorbing too much water and will benefit from shorter baths.

When it comes to sunlight, air plants thrive in bright, indirect, or filtered sunlight from spring to fall. During winter, it’s best to place them in direct light. If needed, you can supplement winter sunlight with full spectrum artificial lights for approximately 12 hours each day.

Adequate air circulation is crucial for Tillandsia. If your air plant is in a container, ensure it is uncovered and positioned in an airy location. Alternatively, you can remove the Tillandsia from its container for a full day every week.

After watering, always shake off any excess water from the plant, as allowing moisture to linger on the leaves can cause damage. You can dry the plant in a colander or on a layer of paper towels. If your Tillandsia is housed in a seashell, make sure to empty the shell regularly to prevent the plant from sitting in water.

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Feeding your Tillandsia is also important for its overall health. You can use a bromeliad fertilizer twice a month, or opt for a regular water-soluble fertilizer diluted to one-quarter strength. Another option is highly diluted orchid food, using one pinch per gallon of water.

By following these care guidelines and properly reviving your air plants, you can ensure they remain vibrant and thriving. Remember, air plants are unique creations of nature that bring a touch of greenery and beauty to any space. So go ahead, give your Tillandsia the love and care it deserves, and enjoy the natural wonder it brings to your surroundings.


To learn more about air plants and find the perfect addition to your collection, visit Ames Farm Center.