Air plant care cheat sheet

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A collection of misted air plants

How To Mist Air Plants (The Easy Way)

Misting air plants has two main benefits. Firstly, regular misting helps to raise the humidity in an indoor environment and secondly can be used as a way of rehydrating your plants. Whether you use a spray bottle or garden hose make sure you thoroughly mist the entire plant. You can use soft tap water, however, it’s better to use rainwater if available.

Although many species of air plants can survive with only misting, most Tillandsia will need soaking weekly if kept in an indoor environment.

In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about misting air plants.

Misting Your Air Plants – Step by Step

Air plants are fascinating and unique plants that require little maintenance and care. However, by following this step-by-step guide you will ensure your Tillandsia receive the proper hydration they need to grow and remain healthy and strong.

Step 1: Prepare The Water For Misting

Before you begin misting your air plants, it’s important to ensure you’re using the right water. The type of water you use can directly impact the health and well-being of your plants. Tap water, for example, can contain harmful chemicals such as chlorine, which can be detrimental to your lovely plants.

The best kind of water to use for misting your air plants is rainwater. Rainwater is naturally pure and free from any harmful chemicals, in most cases, and is of course nature’s very own way of watering Tillandsia. However, if rainwater is not available, you can use spring or pond water.

Misting a small collection of Tillandsia

Having said that, soft tap water is fine if no other water source is available. In the past, I have used soft tap water for many years and successfully grown many plants. Just remember to let the water stand for 2-3 days to allow the chlorine in tap water to evaporate before using it on your beautiful plants.

Step 2: Fill Up A Spray Bottle With Water

Once you have obtained the appropriate type of water you’ll need to fill up a spray bottle before you can mist your air plants. The water in the spray bottle should be at room temperature or slightly warmer. If you use cold water, it may shock your plants, which can cause damage to their leaves.

It is important to note that the type of spray bottle you use can also impact the health of your air plants. Opt for a non-transparent, or opaque spray bottle. Transparent spray bottles allow light through and over time enable algal growth on the inside of the bottle, which will eventually end up on your air plants. A non-transparent spray bottle, on the other hand, will help to prevent light penetration and inhibit algae growth.

Also, remember to use a good-quality spray bottle that can provide an even and fine mist to help aid hydration.

Once you have filled up your spray bottle, it’s time to move on to the next step of misting your air plants.

Step 3: Thoroughly Wet The Entire Plant

To properly mist your air plants, you’ll need to ensure you mist the entire plant until each leaf is thoroughly wet. Be sure to hold the spray bottle upright and spray in a sweeping motion, starting from one side of the plant and moving towards the other side. This will ensure that you cover every leaf with a fine mist, allowing the plant to absorb the moisture it needs.

Air plant care cheat sheet

Step 4: Drying Your Air Plant

After misting your air plants, it is essential to dry them properly to prevent water accumulation in between the leaves of the plants, which can lead to rot. To do this, place your air plants on their side or upside-down for roughly 4 hours in an area with good air circulation. You can place your plants on a towel or dish-drying rack if that helps.

A small collection of drying Tillandsia

Properly drying your air plants is crucial for maintaining their health and longevity. The accumulation of trapped water in between a plant’s leaves or around the main body or base can quickly cause their leaves to rot and the plant may eventually die.

Several species of Tillandsia are more prone to rotting than others, including T. Caput-medusae, T. Bulbosa, T. Duratii, and T. Tectorum. It is crucial to give extra attention to these species and make sure they dry completely after watering.

How Often Should I Mist Air Plants?

Ideally, you should mist your air plants 2-3 times a week, but this depends on the humidity level in your home. If you live in a particularly humid climate you may be able to mist your plants less frequently.

The hotter and dryer the environment the more frequently you will need to mist your Tillandsia. In contrast, in the winter months, you can probably mist your plants less frequently as the weather is much cooler then.

It’s best to monitor your air plants and adjust the misting frequency as needed. Remember that maintaining a consistent humidity level is essential for the overall health of your plants.

Benefits of Misting Air Plants

One of the main benefits of misting air plants is to provide them with supplemental moisture that is essential for their growth. Tillandsia is typically found in humid environments in their natural habitat, so misting helps simulate those conditions indoors.

A women misting her air plant with a spray bottle

When you mist your air plants, you’re not only providing them with vital moisture but also helping them absorb essential nutrients from the air. This promotes healthy growth and contributes to their overall well-being.

Misting also helps to remove dust and debris from your plant’s leaves enabling them to absorb moisture more easily through their tiny trichomes. Trichomes are the hair or crystal-like structures that cover Tillandsia leaves and in some species give them a silver or white appearance.

It’s important to remember that some species of Tillandsia prefer soaking rather than misting. We have an excellent article on how best to water air plants with further information.

How To Mist Air Plants In Bloom

To preserve your air plants flowers, it’s important to be mindful when misting your Tillandsia. It is advisable to keep the flowers as dry as possible. The presence of water on the blooms can have negative effects such as shortening the blooming period and potentially causing wilt or rotting.

Try to avoid misting the blooms as much as possible. This isn’t easy but taking care to avoid the flowers will help to prevent botrytis or fungal growth and ruin an otherwise beautiful display of color.

Misting Xeric And Mesic Air Plants

When it comes to misting air plants, understanding the difference between xeric and mesic varieties is the key to good watering.

Xeric air plants originate from arid climates and can thrive with minimal water compared to the mesic varieties. Xeric Tillandsia often has broader and stiffer leaves and is usually covered in more trichomes (tiny hair-like structures that absorb water), often giving them a white or silver appearance.

Some examples of xeric varieties are:

  • T. Circinata
  • T. Tectorum
  • T. Xerographica.
Species - Tillandsia Tectorum

In contrast, mesic air plants are typically found in humid environments like tropical forests and need more water to thrive. Mesic Tillandsia typically has thinner and more fleshy leaves that are greener in appearance. It’s important to note though, that mesic varieties often have numerous trichomes as well but as a general rule they rarely cover the entire plant.

Some examples of mesic varieties are:

  • T. Andreana
  • T. Bulbosa
  • T. Brachycaulos.
Species - Tillandsia Bulbosa

Gathering Supplies And Tools For Misting Air Plants

Other than water, misting air plants may require some additional supplies. Here’s a short list of items that you may find useful.

Spray bottle – A decent spray bottle with a good nozzle will atomize the water, creating a fine mist that can be absorbed easily by the plant’s leaves. Choose a non-transparent or opaque bottle to help prevent mold, bacteria, and algae from growing on the inside.

Towel – When you’ve finished misting your air plants it’s a good idea to place them on a towel or paper towel during the drying process. A towel will absorb any excess water that runs off your plants and prevent the accumulation of standing water beneath them while drying.

Air plant fertilizer – Air plants need fertilizing occasionally to keep them healthy. Tillandsia fertilizer is carefully formulated and contains the necessary nutrients and minerals they need to grow. I use a spray bottle with a pre-mixed fertilizer to make the job quick and easy.

Micro-climate meter – This item is not essential for misting but it’s a useful tool to own. If you’re addicted to Tillandsia like me, you may want to invest in a micro-climate meter. These devices measure temperature, humidity, and light levels, helping you create the ideal environment for your plants to thrive.

By keeping these additional supplies close to hand, you’ll always be prepared and ready to mist your air plants.

Author - Stephen Little
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