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How to Revive an Air Plant

Posted by Darrell Ross on
Gardening Tips
How to Revive an Air Plant

If you are looking for a way to revive your dying air plant, follow quick solutions like soaking the plant in clean water and trimming off the dead and affected parts.

Air plants (also called Tillandsia) are special plants that can grow anywhere. These epiphytic plants are from another planet and require no soil to grow. The air plants absorb water and moisture through their leaves and require a moderate quantity of water to survive.

Caring for these plants may not require much, but sometimes they start looking sickly (limp, droopy, shriveled, or brown). What will you do in such a condition? This write-up will teach you how to pump life into dying indoor air plants.

How to Revive Dying Air Plants

Knowing the real reason for air plants’ sickness is very important. For instance, when an air plant needs water, it turns brown or limp. You can easily revive an air plant by taking the following actions.

Overnight soak

When an air plant lacks water, its leaf ends will start turning brown or curling. Also, air plants show a yellow/brown color when they are too exposed to sunlight. You can revive your air plant in such a condition by immersing it overnight in clean water. This gives them enough time to absorb the nutrients and moisture they need. You can start by filling a bowl with lukewarm water and soaking the air plant entirely.

Cut off brown or dead leaves

Removing dead parts allow air plants to absorb more sunshine, look beautiful and regenerate. The brown and dead leaves are easy to come off, so gently tug at the leaves until fresher leaves are left. With this, your air plant will gently and naturally pump back to life.

When the healthier leaves come to the surface, it’s easier for the plant to get moisture and nutrient from the atmosphere. Removing the dead parts also keep the pest at bay, as most pests are attracted to dead leaves.

Get rid of pests

One of the main causes of your dying air plants may be pests. The mealybug is one of the major dangers to air plants. So, you must keep insects and pests away from the plants to prevent them from dying.

Separate the affected plants from the healthy ones first. After that, spray them with a disinfectant solution like neem oil, dish soap, or baking soda. By doing so, you can keep the plant healthy and eliminate most pests, which will help it recover.

Provide air circulation and sunlight

An air plant needs good air circulation, as important as sunshine and water. Compared to most home plant decorations, air plants have tiny fuzzy white fibers on the leaves known as trichomes, allowing them to grow without soil. It helps them absorb water and airborne minerals and also regulates their temperature.

This means bad air regulation around your Tillandsia plant reduces its growth and causes its cores to rot or die. However, you can avoid this by checking your air plant regularly or ensuring they get excess moisture. Also, bright light exposure helps healthy air plants bloom. But leaving them under direct sunlight for too long makes them dry or die.

Remove excess water

Your air plants must be watered to survive, but too much water will damage the green leaves and roots. Hence, try to avoid running much tap water on the air plant and keep them dry. You can use a dry paper towel to carefully wipe away any excess water from the plant. You must be careful not to harm the leaves and roots when you drain the water.

Air Plant (Tillandsia) Care

Air plants can go for a long period without much attention. They might be small by nature, but they make stunning standalone houseplants.

Here is air plant care guides you should know.


The best temperature to keep Tillandsia healthy and happy is between 50 to 900F and about 100F cooler at night. Air plants are sensitive to extreme cold and can survive a short freeze. However, once the temperature drops below 350F, they will require protection.

Air condition

Bad air circulation reduces growth in air plants and mostly rots their cores.  So when taking care of the air plant, remember that it requires good air, moderate sunshine, and water. Check your plant from time to time to ensure that they are getting adequate nutrients and moisture. Also, avoid putting air plants in a closed container or spots near fans or vents.

Light exposure

Light exposure plays a major role in air plants to look healthy and bloom. Leaving them under direct sunlight for too long may lead to burns and death. Your Tillandsia container should be placed under bright indirect light. Ideally, 7 am to 11 am is the best time ever.

Water needs

Care for air plants includes knowing how to water them to keep them healthy and happy properly. Directly watering your plant can be tricky. It’s advisable to water air plants deeply at least twice a week. You can mist them with spray bottles or soak them in water for an hour. You can also combine the two methods by soaking for 20 to 60 minutes daily with a supplemental misting, depending on the current climate and time of the year.

Regardless of your chosen method, always place the plant on top of a paper towel and allow it to air dry for a few hours before placing it gently in its containers. This is to protect them from rotting. Additionally, it is best to always look at your air plant’s tips to check its condition.


Fertilizing air plants is not really for them to look their best, but it is an ideal way to encourage them to bloom and produce offsets. Use liquid fertilizer for the plants, especially natural/organic fertilizer.

It is easy to feed air plants by adding low-nitrogen bromeliad fertilizer or regular water solution houseplant fertilizer. The recommended strength is preferably a spray bottle, making it possible to feed and water your air plant at the same time.

Air plants naturally absorb enough moisture from high humidity and rain. But due to the dryness in most homes, indoor air plants require frequent watering. So, it’s best to monitor your air plants, water them as required, add fertilizer, monitor their exposure to light, etc. You don’t want them dried and dead over time.


How long should I soak my air plant?

It’s best to soak your air plant overnight for 6 to 7 hours. After soaking, ensure you dry it before placing it in a container.

How do you revive air plants turning brown?

An air plant turning brown majorly signifies dryness. By watering your air plant deeply, you can revive it.

What type of water should be used for air plants?

You should use fresh and clean water to soak your air plant.

What causes dead air plants?

Causes of death are plants’ lack of light, too much sunlight, lack of water, poor air circulation, and too much water.