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How To Remove Air Plants From Trees [Easy Guide]

Albeit air plants do not have any means to absorb nutrients from trees, they still can hurt trees, so remove them and instead use them as interior decor.

You can manually remove the air plants from trees after individually plucking out the side roots. Otherwise, cut out the tree branch along with air plants or opt for a forceful water jet with careful handling.

Depending upon the age of the air plants, removing them from trees without causing harm could be tedious.

Thus, read till the end to know the best ways and tools to remove air plants from trees.

Do Air Plants Kill Trees?

Air plants, also known as ‘Epiphytes,’ are unique plant varieties that do not need soil but grow by clinging onto other plants.

That said, air plants are not parasitic and use their aerial roots only to anchor themselves safely in the air.

Furthermore, they absorb nutrients from air, rain and dew using their aerial roots and leaves.

Therefore, it is unlikely and more like a myth for air plants to kill their supporting trees and will not bother even if you do not remove them.

However, when air plants become too dense or have grown a lot, they shade tree leaves interfering with photosynthesis and reducing overall plant growth.

For instance, air plants like Spanish moss, aka. Tillandsia usenoides are invasive species that can rapidly grow and interfere with plant growth.

Likewise, some air plants release toxins that can harm the trees they are growing on and potentially kill them.

How Do You Remove an Air Plant?

Air plants establish their roots in trees, so it is hard to remove them without causing harm to them and the trees.

However, with the proper use of tools and methods, you can minimize damage to the trees.

Likewise, if you aim to harvest air plants, ensure they are neither baby plants nor too old or mature.

Although it might be easier to remove baby air plants, they may not adapt to new surroundings.

Meanwhile, old ones have roots firmly attached to the trees, making near impossible to remove them without causing harm.

air plant growing on the tree
Not all air plants can survive after removing them from the trees, so ensure they can live on even after removing them.

That said, small pups that have grown over half or one-third the size of the mother air plants can be harvested.

Now, without further dilly-dallying, gather tools like sterilized sharp pruning shears, tweezers, plant-safe adhesive removers and gloves.

So, let us remove the air plants, albeit harmless, from your trees, shall we?

1. Gentle Tugging Out Air Plants

A manual way of removing air plants from the tree is the common and, in most cases, ideal approach.

However, if the air plants are not in feasible places, you might have to opt for other approaches.

Now, wear protective gardening gloves and be ready for a gentle tug of war with air plants.

  • Use a tweezer and pluck out the fibrous roots carefully.
  • Gently cut the deep, thick roots of the air plants and slowly pull them to remove them from the trees.
  • Ensure avoiding any damage to the base of the air plants.
  • Safely keep the air plants in a clean container or a bag.

2. Taking Air Plant With Tree Branch

If you cannot pluck out the air plants safely, you can remove the tree branch with air plants altogether.

  • Cut out the stem from the tree using an appropriate cutting tool per the stem’s width. 
  • Remove any excessive length of the stem as per your need.
  • While cutting the stem, ensure a clean, precise cut, as jagged cutting makes healing harder for trees.
  • Allow the tree to heal its wound on its own, so abstain from covering or dressing the edge.
  • Give your stem desired shape and size to decorate them at your convenience.

Note: You must not cut down the central branch of the tree as it the main source of energy that sustains tree life.

3. Powerful Water Spray

Although challenging, a powerful water jet can also remove sturdy air plants from the trees.

This approach is unsuitable if the air plants you aim to remove for harvest do not have rigid body stature.

Furthermore, harvesting baby air plants with this method is not recommended.

  • Check the water pressure is just enough to knock the air plants out from the trees without causing major harm.
  • Carefully direct the water jet towards the bottom of the air plants and avoid aiming at the base, as you can not cut the air plants.
  • Collect and carefully keep the plucked-out plant in a bag.

Editor’s Note

Know Proper Aftercare for Air Plants

Right after a proper harvest, moisten the plant and place them somewhere bright with ideal humidity as per plant needs.

Despite being hardy, air plants will not live their average life span of 2 to 5 years and will not bloom even at their nearing end if you fail to provide proper care.

All The Best!