How Do You Revive a Dying Air Plant: 10 Easy Steps

A thriving collection of Tillandsia air plants makes a bold statement and is a great alternative to fresh cut flowers. A fun and easy way to bring the beauty of nature into your home, office, dorm room or anywhere with natural light. Sometimes air plants may turn yellow, brown, or even die after neglect, but this doesn't mean they can't be brought back to life!

Air plants are one of the fascinating types of plants on the planet. Unlike other plants, Tillandsia is epiphytic, which means it does not need soil to thrive. This makes them a versatile addition to your indoor or outdoor space. 

However, just because they don’t require soil doesn’t imply they don’t need some attention. Air plants collect nutrients and moisture from the air using trichomes. Trichomes are modified hairs present on the leaf to help absorb nutrients and water.

If you see that your plant is not thriving or dying, it is high time you pay attention to it and revive it.

How Can I Tell My Air Plant Is Dying?

Sometimes, the leaves will turn brown and start to fall off. If you can’t get your air plant to green up after a few days of care, it probably needs more effort to revive it.

1) Smaller leaves: The size of the leaves might be smaller than usual because there isn’t enough food to create substantial growth.

2) Dying Leaves: Leaves may go limp and die altogether if they’re not getting enough water.

3) Browning / Dryness: Brown leaves mean that it’s been too dry or lacks enough light for too long in general; if your air plant has been potting-bound for a while, this could be due to excessive crowding or root damage from fertilizer burn when planting.

dried leaves resulting from not having enough light
Always make sure to give your plant some sunlight to avoid drying the leaves

Dead areas on the leaf edges may appear if the air plant has been in a very humid environment for an extended time. 

Mold and fungus can or may begin to grow on your plant or soil surface. The leaves are not only brown but also shriveled up.

4) Over-watering: If you’re overwatering your plant, then it’s not getting the proper amount of airflow. This usually occurs when your plant is kept in a very humid environment for an extended period.

5) Under-watering: If you don’t water your air plant enough, then it may begin to shrivel up and die. This typically happens if the soil dries out completely before the next watering.

10 Easy Steps to Revive a Dying Air Plant

Tillandsia is a low-maintenance plant. Although, if your air plant portrays dying signs or looks unhealthy, this might indicate they need extra attention to revive it. 

Fortunately, air plant resuscitation is not difficult. Trimming off the dead leaves or branches and immersing the plant in water are just a few of the many fast solutions.

Now let’s dig into ten easy gardening tricks to revive your plant.

Dunking

Is your air plant leaves turning brown or wilting because of lack of water? If this is the case, watering or immersing your air plant in water is the first easy fix to revive the air plant.

If you have less time, you can immerse the plant in water for six to eight hours, or you might as well leave it overnight. Putting it in water will give it enough time to acquire enough moisture to sustain it.

plant getting immersed in water
One of the common ways to revive your plant is to immerse them in water

Always use lukewarm water to offer the plant a gentle bath. You can use spring, rain, or swamp water for additional nutrients. Tap water might have chlorine that may affect the plant’s growth.

Another thing you can do to revive it is mist it when you realize it is drooping. Misting air plants between immersions can assist prevent dehydration in hot weather, but it does not provide enough moisture alone, so you should not rely on misting alone.

Air Dry Your Air Plant

Air plant leaves turning black or brown is a sign of rot. If you constantly water your plant and do not air dry it properly, water retention will cause plant rot.

After watering your plant, ensure a proper air dry. Before returning the plant to its pot, you can add a paper towel to absorb all the remaining water in the pot.

Air Circulation

Like everybody else, air plants also need good air circulation. Poor or no air circulation can kill your beautiful air plant. An open-air display or pot is a brilliant idea for your air plant to grow and thrive well. 

An enclosed vessel encourages stagnant conditions, and this will end disastrously for your plant. Air circulation will help maintain a stable air temperature and prevent water from building up on the leaves. Place your air plants away from heating and cooling vents.

Humidify Your Plant

Air plants are used to high humidity levels; tropical rainforest conditions. You can revive your plant if it grows in a less humid environment by increasing the humidity levels. 

The right level of indoor humidity for an air plant is 50-90%. You can use a  humidifier to increase the humidity levels.

Another way to increase the humidity is by spraying water on the air plant in a misting method. This should be done in an open room with good airflow, so it does not promote mold/fungus growth that comes after soaking air plants.

watering plants using misting method
Use the misting method to increase the humidity level around your plant.

Cut Brown Leaves

Overwatering or underwatering Tillandsia might cause browning of the leaves. When the plant has a lot of water in it, the leaves or branches are constantly wet, and this might lead to fungal infections. Fungal infections damage the plant cell; hence browning or plant rotting.

If you spot such a problem on your plant, you can start by cutting off the brown dead leaves and branches to revive your plant. Be careful not to harm the plant when removing dead leaves.

Cutting off the brown or black leaves and stems will ensure there’s no spread of infection to healthy parts. 

Provide Some Sunshine

The three essential items for air plants are air, water, and light. Because of a lack of sunlight, your air plants may be dying.

Indoor air plants thrive in bright filtered and indirect light, about 3-5 feet from the window. The small amount of direct sunshine will also be excellent; ideally, it should be morning sun. 

Don’t let your plants sunburn or get dehydrated if they are subjected to too much light for extended periods.

Artificial lighting is also a fantastic option, but place the plants near the light source and switch off the lights at night. This will aid in the air plant retaining enough moisture.

Add Additional Nutrients

Like any other plant, air plants also need nutrients. The most common misconception about air plants is that they get all of their needs from the atmosphere. You can add fertilizer to your plant once or twice a month when watering to help it thrive.

healthy leaves in an orange pot
Try using fertilizer to help your plant thrive more.

Feed your air plants with a solution of air plant fertilizer. Always follow the recommended amounts to give your plant.

You can use an air plant or bromeliad mix. If you cannot find any air plant fertilizer, you are better off using any liquid houseplant fertilizer with a 1/4 strength.

Eradicate Pests

The presence of pests is a rare and frequently overlooked reason for the death of your air plants and other indoor plants. When watering, it is the right time to check and pay attention to the pest.

If you find a web-like substance on your plants, you’re dealing with a mealybug. These pests produce a waxy covering to shield themselves and then consume the plant’s sap.

The procedure for eradicating these pests is straightforward. To begin, isolate the plants from one another. Next, clean the plants with a mild liquid dish soap and water solution. 

Use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean out all of the nooks and crannies. Keep an eye on the plant for a while and return the plant to others after you’ve eradicated all of the pests.

Temperature

Air plants thrive well in temperatures of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It might be difficult to revive if you expose your air plant to extremely cold or scorching temperatures. Extreme heat may cause the air plant to dry out and die.

Note that the drier and hotter the air, the more you will have to water your air plant. This should not come as a surprise, and these subtropical and tropical plants will die under freezing conditions.

Have New Home for Your Plant

Some air plants require periodic repotting. You can do this by removing the plant from its pot and just replanting it in a different pot, or you can free-pot the plant.

Free-potting is where you push the roots down into the soil or marbles so they are buried. This will enable them to grow more freely and be healthier.

preparing to repot the plant
Repotting allows you to provide fresh soil for your plant to grow more.

Another thing, you should strive to imitate its natural habitat for it to grow and thrive. If you notice your plant is dying, maybe it might be because of the pot. You can always use wood materials or any other material that portrays their natural environment.

Bottom Line 

Finally, after learning how to revive your air plants, apply the principle that prevention is preferable to cure. And since no lesson goes unlearned, if your plants are beyond reviving, make a note of everything here as a life lesson learned for future reference and continue looking after the remaining ones. 

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