Why Is My Air Plant Turning Brown? Expert Solutions

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.

Air plants are unique, low-maintenance plants perfect for those who lack a green thumb or don’t have the time for a full-scale garden. These interesting plants don’t need soil for growth, getting their nutrients from the air and water. Despite their hardiness, air plants can sometimes experience issues, such as browning leaves, causing concern for their caretakers.

A common question among air plant enthusiasts is, “Why is my air plant turning brown?” Various factors can contribute to this issue, ranging from improper watering to excessive sunlight. It’s important to understand the underlying cause of your air plant’s browning in order to remedy the situation and keep your plant healthy and thriving.

In this article, we will delve into some of the main reasons behind air plant browning, as well as how to properly address and prevent these issues. Whether it’s adjusting the watering schedule, reevaluating the plant’s location, or dealing with pest infestations, we will provide insights and solutions for nurturing your air plant back to optimal health.

Common Causes of Browning Air Plants

Lack of Water

One common cause of browning air plants is a lack of water. Signs of inadequate hydration include dry, papery leaves that feel brittle to the touch and curling at the tips. To address this issue, you’ll want to increase the frequency of your watering schedule. Try misting your air plants more frequently or soaking them in water for a longer period. Remember that these plants absorb water through their leaves, so providing proper hydration is essential for their health.


On the other end of the spectrum, overwatering can also contribute to browning in air plants. When air plants receive too much water, they can develop root rot, leading to brown, soft leaves. To avoid overwatering:

  • Allow your air plants to dry out completely between waterings
  • Drain excess water after soaking by gently shaking the plant
  • Place the plants in a well-ventilated area to dry after watering

Inadequate Light

Another possible reason for browning air plants is exposure to too much direct sunlight. When air plants receive intense light, it can cause dehydration and leaf damage, leading to browning. To help your air plants thrive, ensure they’re placed in a location that receives bright, indirect light. You might consider moving the plant to a spot near a window that isn’t directly hit by sunlight or providing some shade during the hottest part of the day.

Poor Air Circulation

Lastly, poor air circulation can lead to browning in air plants. Without adequate air movement, moisture can build up on the plant’s leaves, leading to rot and decay. To improve air circulation around your air plants:

  • Space them out to allow for proper airflow
  • Place them near an open window, fan, or air vent to promote air movement
  • Avoid overcrowding your plants in terrariums or enclosed spaces

By addressing these common causes of browning in air plants, you can help ensure their health and longevity. Remember to keep a close eye on your plants and adjust their care routines as needed to maintain their well-being.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Leaf Browning and Curling

One of the first signs of an air plant turning brown is the browning of the leaves, which may appear dry and papery to the touch. This can be accompanied by curling at the tips of the leaves, indicating underwatering as a potential cause 1. In contrast, too much sunlight exposure can cause leaf edges to brown as dehydration and leaf damage occur 2. To identify the issue, pay attention to the plant’s placement and watering schedule.

Root Issues

Although air plants do not rely heavily on their roots, they can still encounter problems related to poor air circulation. Lack of airflow may lead to a weakened or unhealthy plant, contributing to browning leaves and color changes 3. Ensure your air plant is located in an area with proper humidity levels and sufficient air circulation.

Color Changes

Air plants can exhibit color changes for various reasons. Browning might be due to an issue in the plant’s care, such as over- or underwatering, sunburn from excessive light exposure, or deficient nutrients 4. Pests or diseases can also cause changes in color, leading to brown or discolored patches on the plant. To address these concerns, be mindful of your air plant’s care routine and inspect it regularly for any unusual changes in appearance.

In summary, diagnosing air plant browning requires you to consider various factors, including watering habits, sunlight exposure, air circulation, and potential pests. By observing your air plant and adjusting its care accordingly, you can help prevent browning and ensure its overall health.

Prevention and Care Tips

To keep your air plant healthy and prevent it from turning brown, you should consider several factors: watering techniques, light requirements, air circulation, and temperature.

Watering Techniques

Proper watering is essential for air plant health. Soak your air plants in water once a week and mist them every third day using a spray bottle. This ensures they get enough water without overwatering them. Make sure to use rainwater or filtered water to avoid any potential toxins present in tap water.

Light Requirements

Air plants need sufficient light to grow and stay healthy. They require bright but indirect light to fully mature. If your air plants are turning brown, consider moving them to a location with better lighting conditions. Avoid placing them too close to an AC vent or doorway, as this may cause stress due to sudden changes in temperature and air circulation.

Air Circulation

Proper air circulation is crucial for air plant health. Ensure your air plants are placed in an area with good air flow, as stagnant air can lead to fungal growth. You can also increase the humidity around your plants by misting them with water or placing them on a pebble tray.


Air plants thrive in a temperature range between 50-90°F (10-32°C). Maintain a consistent temperature and avoid sudden temperature changes. Don’t place your plants near radiators, heating vents, or cold drafts, as extreme temperatures can cause browning and other health issues.

By following these prevention and care tips, you can help ensure your air plants stay healthy, vibrant, and free from browning.

Recovering Your Brown Air Plant

Trimming Damaged Parts

One of the initial steps to help your brown air plant recover is cutting away the dried or damaged parts. Use a pair of sanitized scissors to gently remove any brown, dead, or mushy leaves. Be careful not to harm nearby healthy foliage during this process. Proper trimming can help the plant redirect its energy to healthier parts, promoting regrowth and recovery.

Reviving Techniques

Keep in mind that air plants generally turn brown due to improper watering or excessive sunlight exposure. To revive your air plant, follow these steps:

  1. Soaking: Give your air plant a 10-minute soak in a basin of lukewarm water. This will help rehydrate the plant and allow the leaves to absorb the moisture they need.
  2. Adjusting light: Move the air plant to a cooler spot with indirect sunlight to prevent further damage from direct sun exposure. You can also ensure that the plant isn’t near any drafts or temperature fluctuations.
  3. Switching water sources: If the tips of your air plant continue to turn brown, consider using rainwater or unchlorinated water instead of tap water. Chlorine in tap water can harm plants.
  4. Adjusting watering frequency: If you find that your air plant isn’t getting enough water, increase the frequency of your watering schedule, and monitor the plant’s progress.

When to Replace Your Air Plant

Despite your best efforts, some air plants might not recover fully. Observe your air plant closely and consider replacing it if you notice the following signs:

  • The plant’s color is not improving despite regular and proper care
  • The majority of leaves continue to feel dry, curl up, or remain brown.
  • There is no new growth or significant improvement after implementing proper care for a reasonable time

Replacing the air plant can be an opportunity to learn from the experience and provide better care for your new air plant to keep it healthy and vibrant.

Helpful Video