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Is My Air Plant Dead Or Alive? [Dead Or Dormant?]

It is difficult to identify if the air plant is dead or alive in the fall and winter as the plant looks ideal and dormant.  

Generally, dead air plant shows no sign of life by changing the plant color where every part, like foliage, stems, etc., starts to decay. In contrast, dormant air plants are still firm and only slow down their growth even though the foliage looks dead.

However, it creates confusion when some air plants go to the dormant phase for an extended time period.

So, go through this complete article to know if your plant is dead or just in the dormant phase and treat it accordingly.

How Do You Know If Your Air Plant Has Died?

If you suspect that your air plant is dead, simply soak it in room temperature water for 4-6 hours and let the plant dry.

Doing this does not quickly recover the plant, but it may show some signs of recovery. Otherwise, your plant is probably dead.

However, there are several other signs that the dead air plants show.

1. Plant Color

The color of your air plant is the first sign that you will notice when it is dead. A healthy plant indicates its life by showing a vibrant green hue. 

The unhealthy plant does not bear any green hue, and the plant appears brown or black with dried parts.
dead air plant
Due to a lack of nutrients, air plants look discolored.

However, there may be some varieties that bear brown or blackish color naturally. So, it’s vital to know the natural color of your air plants.

So, the dead air plant will show no sign of life like flowering, pollination, etc.

2. Foliage Structure

The healthy leaves are the main indication of a healthy plant. These leaves are green, plump, and have a lot of water content.

Moreover, they stay strongly connected to the plant and do not fall easily.

In contrast, when the air plant is going to die or is dead, there is excessive leaf fall. The leaves lose water very easily and turn very dry and shriveled.

Additionally, you cannot find any new foliage growth on the dead plant. The old leaves start to turn pale.

However, leaf fall and paleness is not the only sign. The healthy plants also bear pale and frequently falling leaves on the base.

3. Absorption And Growth

When you frequently mist and water your air plants, they flourish and grow perfectly in healthy conditions.

However, if the plant shows no signs of growth and the place you watered is becoming soggy, the plant is probably dead.

Similarly, when you are consistently watering the plant that is going to die, and it’s not absorbing, root rot may occur, worsening the condition.

Also, the dead air plant won’t show any new growth and start to rot even if you care about it to the fullest.

4. Plant Odor

If your air plant is dead, it will bear a very unpleasant smell. It’s because the parts of the plant begin to rot due to lack of functioning.

The rotting will begin from the root, and the plant stops absorbing water and minerals.

As the roots rot, the soil starts to bear a foul smell due to fungal pathogens. Eventually, the stems become soft and mushy.

You can also see pests roaming around the rotten leaves.

How To Revive Dead Air Plants?

It’s not possible to revive dead air plants as they cannot come to life after being lifeless. However, you can still save the plants that are about to die.

  • Water the plant regularly after the soil becomes 2 inches dry.
  • Prune the dead parts to prevent further spreading.
  • If you suspect root rot, tug out the plant and remove the dead parts of the roots after flushing them. Then replant it in new potting soil.
  • Use well-draining soil for proper air circulation and water absorption.
  • Fertilize the air plant only in the growing season.
  • Learn about the light and temperature demands and fulfill them based on the plant’s requirements.
  • Protect the plant from pests and pathogens by using neem oil.

How To Tell If My Airplants Have Undergone Dormancy?

During the dormant phase, the plant looks less vibrant and completely slows down its growth. They go into dormancy during the cold, dry months when the nutrients are scarce.

1. Plant Appearance

The leaves of your air plants start turning pale with a grey and silver hue. The plant may also lose some of its leaves.

It’s because there is very low water intake in every plant, including air plants, during dormancy.

However, the plants adapt to this situation and develop new green leaves in spring. The leaves also start to become dry and wrinkled due to the water loss.

In some airplanes, the leaves start to curl inwards during dormancy.

2. Reduced Growth

As the plant minimizes the water and nutrient absorption, it may also experience very slow or no growth.

However, never feed them with fertilizers to speed their growth, as the plant may die due to overfertilization. Also, water the plants once every 10-15 days or only when they need.

dehydrated air plant
Dormant air plants slow down their growth for a certain time.

You can also know that your airplane is in a dormant phase by observing the growth. If the plant is firm, but there is no new growth, it isn’t dead but is in dormancy.

3. Low Water Needs

You can notice that the active plants will wilt when you don’t provide them with frequent watering.

In contrast, dormant plants will stay firm even if you don’t water them for weeks.

Additionally, if you water the dormant plant, the soil starts being soggy, inviting root rot. Eventually, the plant will experience a bad overwinter and die.

4. No Flowering

Mostly, the plants, including air plants, produce new growth, such as buds, flowers and pups during the growing season. 

It’s because there is much energy available after the plant wakes up from the dormant phase.  The climate and soil are also workable.

Thus, during dormancy, the plant neither shows any growth nor produces flower buds for reproduction.

Tips To Overwinter Air Plants

When the winter season arises, most plants die due to the extremely cold climate. So, it’s vital to save them from excessive cold during winter.

  • Place the air plant indoors during the cold nights. If shifting isn’t possible, use frost blankets to protect them.
  • Provide bright indirect light and sustain a temperature of about 50-90°F.
  • Protect the plant from heating vents, coolers, air conditioners, etc.
  • Never fertilize your air plants during the dormant phase.
  • Monitor the condition of your plant regularly.

From Editorial Team

More Tips!

Mostly when the air plants get too much light, they will start turning brown. In that case, you must move it to the shady location.

Similarly, the air plants will get soft and mushy if you overwater them. However, the extremely underwatered plant will have brown edges.

So, take care of your air plants based on their requirements and learn about the symptoms before treating the plants.