This article was last updated by on

How To Water Air Plants? 3 Best Practices [Updated 2024]

Air plants have made gardening easier by thriving completely soilless but they can get tricky regarding water requirements.

Generally, the air plant absorbs moisture from the host plant and air, but that does not suffice the requirement. So balance the moisture by misting the plant every 4-5 days or using a bowl to soak the plant in the morning every 1-2 weeks.

Here is a guide to water air plants, and learn about misting, dunking, and soaking methods.

How Do I Know When To Water An Air Plant?

Although the air plants are peculiar to other members of the Bromeliad family, the sign of water deprivation is similar.

Air plants signal for water through their leaves, either by curling inwards, exposing dry leaf tips, or exhibiting a droopy appearance.

Also, you can touch the plant leaves to see if they are plumpy, as air plants without water get lighter and softer.

Alternatively, an overwatered air plant succumbs to rot, signalled by a black, mushy base and leaf fall.

Image illustrates the signs of a dehydrated air plant
Brown and recurved leaf tips with shriveling leaf bases are signs of a parched air plant.

Hence you must wait a few days before watering the plant again.

Meanwhile, the location also determines the watering schedule, as air plants in hotter settings need water more often.

Do You Know?

You can glue air plants together or glue them separately on wood or other sturdy, smooth surfaces, but their watering demands may alter.

How To Water Air Plants?

The 3 standard methods to water an air plant are as follows.

1. Misting Air Plants

Misting is usually for varieties of air plants sensitive to excess moisture requiring frequent misting for growth.

Set a misting schedule every 4-5 days, ensuring the entire surface is soaked (but not till water drips down the plant).

However, you must spritz frequently during summer and early fall while lowering it during winter and spring.

Start by filling a spray bottle with rain or distillate water.

Then, sprinkle the leaves in the early morning till they are fully covered but do not drizzle down the tips.

2. Soaking Air Plants

Soaking is the ideal way to water air plants since it allows the water to seep into the plant tissues and hydrate them.

Depending on the season, you must soak your air plants every 7-10 days. Bathe them often in summer and fall, but soak them less frequently during spring and winter. 

Follow the steps to perform the soaking technique carefully.

  • Start by filling a bowl or sink halfway with water and float the air plants.
  • Remember to keep the buds and flowers above the water.
  • Let the plant stay in the water for 10-20 minutes to an hour.
  • Then, take the plants from the water and let any excess water drain.
  • Place them in the open air to dry for 4 hours.

You can soak them for 2 hours every 2-3 weeks in spring and winter.

However, delay the soaking schedule every 1-2 weeks at max during summer and fall.

Image illustrates the methods to water air plants
There are 3 ways to moisturize your air plants.

3. Rinsing or Dunking Air Plants

The dunking method is primarily used for plants with more curled leaves that do not require a complete soak.

After misting, it is the second easiest form of maintenance that you can perform once every 7-10 days.

Meanwhile, a blooming plant should be rinsed rather than soaked in water, and delicate blossoms should be rinsed carefully.

Go with the steps of the technique below.

  • Take a bowl and fill it with lukewarm water.
  • Dip the plant in a water bowl several times and moisten it.
  • However, you can put your plants in a strainer and rinse them under running water for 1-2 minutes.
  • Make sure the entire surface has been thoroughly saturated.
  • Then, turn the plant upside down to drain the excess water and place it in a paper towel.
  • Lastly, let the water run off before placing them back on its display.

Take reference from the video below!

How Often To Water Air Plants?

Air plants take moisture from the air and have primitive, almost non-functional roots.

Hence, surrounding humidity plays a significant role and determines the moisture inside the cells of the air plants.

You can keep air plants in terrariums, attach them to driftwood or wood, or even glue them, but they all will have a separate watering duration and demand.

Plus, air plants that are flowering or about to bloom and non-flowering air plants have specific watering spans.

1. How to water air plants in terrariums?

Air plants are suitable for open terrariums as the air circulation in such terrariums keeps the moisture level.

The humidity in open terrariums depends on the surrounding air, which is conducive for the delicate tissues of air plants.

Image represents air plants growing in an open terrarium
Confined terrariums can quickly raise the humidity levels and kill the plant via rot.

Watering Schedule

  • Misting: Every day (summer & fall) or 4 times a week (spring & winter)
  • Soaking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) for 10-20 minutes or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 30-60 minutes
  • Rinsing or Dunking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 1-2 minutes 

2. How to water air plants that are glued?

Glued plants should not be soaked in water. You must either mist or dunk their leaves.

This is because the delicate tissues may rot as you cannot move the plant to ‘take the air’ once glued back. 

Hence, the plants may not dry quickly after watering, leading to rot issues.

Watering Schedule

  • Misting: Weekly or 2-3 times every week (all seasons)
  • Rinsing or Dunking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 1-2 minutes 

3. How to water air plants on wood or attached to driftwood?

Wood or driftwood may develop fungal growth if they stay damp for too long.

Moreover, plants attached to a woody substrate cannot be removed every time for watering.

Hence, the only way to water is by dunking or rinsing.

Image represents a wooden plank for growing air plants
You can use shelf-like wooden planks to keep air plants, which becomes easy during watering schedules.

Watering Schedule

  • Rinsing or Dunking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 1-2 minutes 

Don’t skip this process!

After dunking, you must immediately drain all the water or dry the plants using paper towels in the open air for 4 hours.

4. How to water air plants with flowers?

Air plants grow centrally seated delicate flowers that spire on a flowering stalk way above the leaves.

Hence, you must avoid wetting them too often while watering them.

Watering Schedule

  • Misting: Every day (summer & fall) or 4 times a week (spring & winter)
  • Soaking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) for 10-20 minutes or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 30-60 minutes
  • Rinsing or Dunking: Every 7-10 days (summer & fall) or 2-3 weeks (spring & winter) for 1-2 minutes 

Pro Tip!

Wrap the flowers with a plastic wrap before wetting the leaves.

Image represents the process of watering many air plants
The flowers of air plants are delicate, and even a small amount of remaining moisture can damage them.

Factors that Impact Watering Air Plants

Air plants are hardy, but prolonged negligence can hamper their growth.

Some factors that can impact the duration and amount of watering in air plants are as follows.

1. Plant Location

If you have an indoor air plant in highly humid areas like the kitchen and bathroom, reduce the watering amount.

Also, watering should be minimal for the air plants in terrariums or glass globes placed in indirect lighting.

Meanwhile, the air will dry faster if you use heating devices such as fireplaces and heaters in winter.

However, outdoor plants get the most direct sunlight and need more maintenance, including watering.

2. Season of the Year

The surrounding atmosphere affects the course of watering and the amount of water for air plants.

Summer includes more direct sunlight, and winter involves shorter days. So expand the watering schedules to more frequent and volume on hot days.

Hence, if the season is cool, forgo watering. You can keep the humidity levels in check using an indoor hygrometer.

3. Water Quality

Air plants aren’t fussy about water, and tap water is acceptable, depending on the water quality in your area.

The ideal water to use is rainwater, aquarium water, or pond water since it has more nutrients. However, don’t add any fertilizer if using these water sources.

And if you are using tap water, let it sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to settle.

Also, avoid chemically softened water, which is sometimes excessively salty for them.

Image represents the method of watering blooming air plants
Keep the plant upright and only dunk the bottom leaves and roots of your flowering air plant.

4. Frequency of Fertilization

Fertilizing air plants is neither a difficult nor a necessary task.

Though a monthly or quarterly application of water-soluble fertilizer assists in developing air plants.

However, you can feed the plant by taking instructions from the package.

Another alternative is to use one-fourth or half the strength of standard fertilizer.

From Editorial Team


Air plants prefer dry but occasionally damp substrate to grow as they get moisture from the air and don’t have refined root systems.

Hence, if the indoor or ambient humidity is high, you don’t need to water your plant that often.

1 comment
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *