How to Tell if Air Plant Needs Water: Quick Detection Guide

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

Water Requirements for Air Plants

Frequency of Watering

Air plants need to be watered regularly to maintain their health. The frequency of watering depends on factors such as the temperature, humidity, and the plant’s specific needs. Generally, air plants should be watered at least once a week by soaking them in rainwater or filtered water for 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, the plant absorbs the necessary water and nutrients. In hotter and drier conditions, or when the air humidity is low, you may need to water your air plants more often. You can also give them a longer soak, lasting an hour or two, every week or every other week.

During the winter months, when the plants are not growing as actively, you can reduce the watering frequency to every two weeks.

Signs of Overwatering

Overwatering can be detrimental to air plants, as excess water can lead to rot. To prevent this, make sure to shake off any excess water after soaking and place the plant upside down to air-dry. This helps any trapped moisture to drain away and ensures the plant doesn’t sit in standing water.

Some signs that indicate you may be overwatering your air plants include:

  • Yellowing or browning leaves
  • A soggy or mushy texture
  • A foul smell indicating rot

If you notice these signs, reduce the frequency of watering to avoid further damage to the plant.

Signs of Underwatering

Underwatering can also harm air plants, as they need consistent moisture to thrive. It’s essential to recognize the signs of underwatering to ensure your plants receive adequate hydration. When an air plant needs water, its leaves will start to form a “U” shape. Other indications of underwatering include:

  • Pale-green leaves
  • Leaves that feel soft or dry to the touch
  • Curled or rolled leaves

If you notice these signs, increase the frequency or duration of watering to help your air plant recover.

By monitoring the water content of your air plants and adjusting the watering frequency as needed, you can help maintain their health and vitality.

Methods for Watering Air Plants


Misting is a practical method for maintaining air plants’ moisture levels, especially if you live in a dry climate. To mist air plants, use a spray bottle filled with bottled or filtered tap water and gently spritz the plant’s surface. Misting can be done every few days, but it should not be the primary source of water for your air plants.


Soaking is a more thorough method of watering air plants, ensuring that they receive the moisture and nutrients they need to thrive. To soak your air plants, follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill a clean container with room-temperature water, deep enough to completely submerge each air plant. Rainwater, pond water, or well water are beneficial, but tap water should be allowed to sit in an open container overnight before use.
  2. Let your plants soak for at least 15 to 20 minutes, and even up to an hour or two once a week or every other week.
  3. After soaking, gently shake off excess moisture, and place each air plant upside down on a clean cloth or paper towel to drain for an hour or two.

By using these misting and soaking methods, you can help maintain the health and vitality of your air plants. Make sure to monitor your plants for any signs of overwatering or underwatering and adjust your watering techniques accordingly.

Optimizing Air Plant Care

Light Requirements

Air plants thrive in bright, indirect light, making it important to place them in areas where they receive sufficient natural light, such as near windows or other well-lit areas. Direct sunlight, however, can be harmful to air plants, causing their leaves to scorch or dry out. Keep them away from direct sunlight, especially during peak hours when the sun is intense. Shade cloth can be used to maintain an appropriate level of lighting and protect the plants from excessive heat.

Temperature and Humidity

Air plants are known for their adaptability to various climates, but they do have preferences when it comes to temperature and humidity. Ideal temperature ranges are usually between 50-90°F (10-32°C), with fluctuations outside this range potentially causing harm to the plants. In hotter, more arid climates, air plants may require more frequent watering to prevent the leaves from curling inwards.

Humidity also plays a crucial role in air plant care. Maintaining relative humidity between 40-60% will keep the plants healthy and happy. For homes with drier environments, using a humidifier or regular misting can help maintain proper humidity levels.


Fertilizing air plants is not always necessary, but doing so can promote better growth and overall health. Using a water-soluble fertilizer specially formulated for air plants can provide essential nutrients for growth without causing harm.

Here are some tips for fertilizing air plants:

  • Use a fertilizer with a balanced ratio, such as 20-20-20, diluted to 1/4 strength.
  • Fertilize air plants once per month during the growing season, typically from spring to fall.
  • Ensure the plants are well-watered before applying fertilizer to prevent uptake issues and nutrient burns.

By considering these essential care requirements for air plants, you can create an environment where they will grow and flourish. Remember to monitor the signs to know when your air plant needs water, and adjust the care routine accordingly to maintain a healthy and thriving air plant habitat.

Addressing Common Issues

Brown or Yellow Leaves

Brown or yellow leaves in your air plant can be a sign of either underwatering or overwatering. If the leaf tips are turning brown, dry, or crispy, it might indicate underwatering. In this case, you may need to increase the frequency of waterings or ensure the plant is submerged for a sufficient amount of time. On the other hand, if the entire leaf is turning yellow, it may suggest overwatering. It’s important to strike the right balance when it comes to your air plant’s hydration needs.

Weak or Falling Leaves

Weak, soft, or pale green leaves can be an indication of dehydration. When an air plant is not receiving enough water, the leaves may curl or roll up. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to adjust your watering routine. Be sure to submerge your air plant in water for an appropriate amount of time, and let them dry properly before placing them back in their display.

Another possible cause for weak leaves can be temperature fluctuations, as air plants thrive in stable environments. Make sure to keep your air plant away from direct sunlight, and maintain a consistent temperature range in the room where it is placed.

To properly water air plants, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a basin, bowl, or sink with water.
  2. Submerge your air plants for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the plants from the water and spread them on a towel to dry.
  4. If the plants still seem wet, turn them upside down to shake water out of their bases.

By staying mindful of your air plant’s needs and being attentive to its appearance, you can address common issues and keep it looking healthy and vibrant.

Reviving Dehydrated Air Plants

Dehydrated air plants can show signs of stress, such as brown tips, limp leaves, and a dull appearance. To revive them, you can follow these steps, which involve intensive soaking, proper care, and observing the plant’s progress.

Intensive Soaking

When your air plant appears dehydrated, start by giving it an intensive soaking session. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water, preferably rainwater or unchlorinated water. Ensure all leaves are submerged, as air plants absorb water through their leaves rather than roots. Let the plant soak for 5-8 hours, or even overnight for a severely dehydrated plant.

Proper Care After Soaking

After the soaking period, follow these care steps:

  1. Gently shake off excess water from the air plant.
  2. Place the air plant in a well-ventilated, brightly lit location to dry. Avoid direct sun exposure, which may cause more harm.
  3. Regularly mist the plant between soakings, preferably every few days, to maintain moisture.
  4. Monitor the air plant for any signs of pests or diseases, and treat as necessary. Always provide proper air circulation and prevent it from sitting in water for extended periods.

Observe the Plant’s Progress

Keep a close eye on the air plant over the following weeks, noting any changes in appearance and health. If the plant doesn’t show significant improvement, repeat the intensive soaking treatment and ensure you’re providing proper care. A healthy, hydrated air plant should display vibrant colors, elasticity, and a more upright growth habit.

Video Guide