air plant care

How to Water Air Plants: Soaking Method

air plants soaking in water

One of the biggest mistakes new air plant owners make is not watering their air plants correctly. Or, more appropriately, not allowing their air plants to dry correctly.

You may decide to water your air plants on a regular schedule, or you may wait until they indicate they want water. The method you use to water your air plants will depend on if they are indoors, outdoors, mounted on a decoration, or able to be freely moved.

This post explains how to water air plants by soaking them. This method works great for freely moveable air plants (not great for those mounted on decorations.) I highly recommend it for indoor plants. (See my other post on watering air plants using a misting method for another option.)

I soak my indoor air plants about once per week, although you may want to water your plants more or less frequently depending upon the humidity level in your home (if you run a heater,  for example, you may want to water more often.)

Fill up a container or sink with water and submerge your air plant.

air plants soaking in a sink in water
I like to soak my plants upside down in the kitchen sink. I even soak some inside their wire hangers (because I use wire that does not rust.)

Allow the plants to soak for 30-60 minutes. If they are very dehydrated, you can soak for up to eight hours.

Remove the air plants when they are done soaking. Gently shake off the excess water and place the air plant upside down to dry.

dry air plants upside down
I dry my air plants upside down in a dish drainer.

It is very important that you allow your air plant to dry completely before returning it to its home. By turning it upside down, you allow any water inside the base to drip harmlessly out of the plant.

This is where many new air plant owners make a mistake. If you do not allow the plant to dry and water remains in the base, it can rot. Bulbous air plants are particularly vulnerable to this.

air plants drying upside down
These air plants are drying upside down, which is particularly important for the bulbosa on the left.

Once they are dry, you can return them safely to their home location and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “How to Water Air Plants: Soaking Method

  1. I recently purchased 4 air plants. Different sizes.. I have been misting until I read that their leaves curl when they are thirsty. I soaked them yesterday but the leaves are still curled. I have them soaking now. How long can I soak them. Have you any advice?

    1. It depends on what type of air plant they are. Some plants will always be curly, like Tillandsia streptophylla (one of my favorites). Those will stay curly and healthy. Most plants are fine to soak for 30 minutes to an hour or even longer. The most important thing is to make sure the plant dries out entirely between watering, especially the base. Otherwise you run the risk of rotting the base.

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