While air plants don’t grow in soil, they definitely NEED to be watered. Though the plants can survive for long periods of drought, they will not grow or thrive and will eventually die off if water is too scarce.
How do I water the plants? Thoroughly wet your Tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Rinse your them under running water or letting them soak in a bath of water for 20-30 minutes. You can use a bowl, the sink or even the bathtub if you’ve got a family. After their shower or bath, gently shake the plants to remove any excess water from the base and the leaves, and set out to dry upside-down in an area with enough air circulation to dry them out in about 4 hours. If your plants need an in-between watering, misting them with a spray bottle is a great method. A plant in bloom should be rinsed and not submerged in water, and take care when rinsing the delicate flowers.
How often do I water the plants? Your plants should be watered once per week, and 2-3 times is recommended for optimal care. A longer, 2-hour soak is recommended every 2-3 weeks. If you are in a drier, hotter climate, more frequent watering or misting will be needed. You’ll begin to notice that after watering, your plant’s leaves will feel stiffer and full of water and they’ll be softer and lighter in color when they’re in need of water. Wrinkled or rolled leaves can be a sign of dehydration. In conditions of extreme drying, and consequent moisture loss, Tillandsia cannot get replacement water from their roots like a terrestrial plant, or draw on internal reserves like a succulent.
The Water you use is important. NEVER USED DISTILLED WATER! Softened Water is a NO NO for the salt content. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate or bottled water are fine
Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular watering in dry climates to increase the humidity. Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.
After bathing your plants make sure thay are dry before returning them to their pots. Water that collects near the base will cause the plant to rot.
It is better to water in the morning than at night. Air plants absorb the Carbon Dioxide from the air at night instead of the day time. If the plant is wet, it does not breath therefore, unless it can dry quickly at night, plan on morning baths.
Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist.
Air plants should be kept where they’ll receive bright, indirect sunlight or under fluorescent home/office lighting. Periods of direct sunlight are just fine, but more than a few hours of hot sun will deplete the plants of their moisture. If your plant will be in a spot with some pretty direct light, try misting them every couple of days to keep them hydrated.
Air plants will do best in generally warm conditions (a good range is 50-90 degrees).
Everyone needs a little grooming once in a while! It is normal for some of the lower leaves of your tillandsias to dry out as the plant grows or acclimates to a new environment, and those leaves can be gently pulled right off of the plant. If the leaf tips have dried out, you can snip the dried tip off (try trimming at an angle to leave a natural-looking pointy tip), and the same can be done for the plant’s roots. Don’t worry about harming your plants during grooming–they’ll regrow.
Fertilizing your plants is not necessary, but will keep them in top shape and should promote blooming and reproduction. Use a Bromeliad fertilizer (available at most garden shops) once per month during the period of March through October. Other water-soluble fertilizers can be used at 1/4 strength (Rapid Grow, Miracle-Grow, houseplant fertilizer, etc.) if Bromeliad fertilizer is not available.
Tillandsias are tropical plants that usually live for several years and will bloom and produce flowers only one time during their lifetime. The flowers are striking and brilliantly colored, and the bloom period will last several days to many months, depending on the species. Different species bloom at different times, also depending on their care and environment. A plant will most likely go into bloom sometime between mid-winter and mid-summer.
Around a plant’s bloom time, they’ll produce offshoots, or “pups.” You’ll notice the pups have a separate and distinct center of their own, distinguishing them from the other leaves. Once the pup reaches at least one-third the size of the parent plant, the pup can be removed by gently pulling it apart from the parent. Hold both the parent and the pup at their bases and gently twist in a downward motion. You can also cut the plants apart using a clean razor blade, slicing as far down the pup stem as possible. Each pup will follow the life-cycle by growing into a parent plant, blooming and producing pups of it’s own.