Air plants (Tillandsia) are truly unique types of plants. Think about it; they can survive without soil and only need humidity, air, warmth and light. Unfortunately, these plants can also die if their care requirements aren’t met. Air plants that have been neglected may start to show signs of rot or decay. The good news is that it’s easy to save an air plant that has started to go bad.
So how do you save a rotting air plant? The best way to save a rotting air plant is by practicing proper watering techniques. Get rid of the old water in your air plant’s container, then mist it with distilled water. Ensure the plant gets enough air circulation and stays out of direct sunlight for a couple of days until it shows signs of improvement. You can also place your air plant in a semi-shaded location as a temporary measure. This helps the plant’s potential for recovery.
Air plants are such a beautiful addition to any home, but it can be heartbreaking when they start to rot. If you want to save your air plant from rot, this article is for you. It will be looking at the most common causes of rot and how to fix them.
What Causes Air Plant Rot?
Overwatering is the main cause of rot for this houseplant. Air plants are desert-dwelling, so they don’t need much water to survive. If you’re using tap or filtered water on your air plant, make sure that it’s distilled or rainwater. Using normal drinking water will kill the plant.
Overwatering leads to the rotting process because air plants can only absorb so much water before they start to rot. This can happen even if you’re watering the plant once a week.
If there isn’t proper airflow around your air plant, it’s going to be difficult for them to absorb water from their leaves. Poor airflow can be caused by placing your air plant in a dark, enclosed space. If you’re keeping the air plant on top of another object, then it’s blocking airflow and moisture from entering or exiting that area.
Poor airflow can also make it difficult for your houseplant to dry out after watering them. This eventually leads to rotting.
Bad Bacteria and Fungus
If your air plant is damp, it will be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. The humid environment that rot-inducing fungi need can easily occur in an enclosed area or if the plant becomes overwatered. This leads to slimy surfaces on the leaves of the houseplant, and white or gray fuzz can grow on the plant. If you notice this happening, then it’s time to take action.
Bad bacteria and fungus lead to rot because they break down cells of living things, eventually causing decomposition. This is why air plants that have been infected with these fungi need immediate care if you want them to survive long.
Signs Of Rot On Air Plants
While under the right conditions, air plants rarely rot, but when they do, it’s important to take action right away. If you notice any of these signs, then it may be time to save your air plant.
It looks like the leaves are wilting or curling up at the edges
If you see that some of the outermost leaves on your air plant are starting to curl inwards, it could be a sign of rot. This is because the plant cells within these leaves are decomposing, causing them to dry up and curl.
There’s brown or black spots on your air plants
If you see dark patches forming all over your houseplant, it has probably fallen victim to infection with bad bacteria or fungus. These fungi form spores that spread to other areas of the plant and can cause it to rot very quickly.
The soil smells like rotten eggs or sewage
Bad bacteria and fungus emit a strong, pungent smell that is unmistakable if you’re familiar with it. If your air plant’s soil starts to smell like this, you should take immediate action because these fungi break down the plant’s cells.
White or gray fuzz growing on the air plants
If you see white or gray mold-like growths on your air plant, it has probably fallen victim to one of these fungi that causes rot. These fuzzy patches are made up of spores, and they will continue to spread if not taken care of immediately.
Ways to Save a Rotting Air Plant
If you notice your air plant is rotting, relax; this is not the end of the world. There are several ways you can help your air plant out of this unfortunate situation, and it all starts with these simple steps:
Take Your Air Plant Outdoors For an Hour or Two
Taking your air plant outside for a few hours each day will give them some fresh air to breathe, which is often enough to save their life. This is especially true if you’ve noticed your plant has started to rot because of poor airflow. If there’s no sign of rotting, then it might take a few days before the air outside will save them from going bad.
Once you notice that your houseplant isn’t absorbing water anymore and its leaves are starting to look wrinkled or slimy, it’s time to start this process.
Remove Your Houseplant From Its Pot or Container
If your air plant is turning bad because of the potting soil you used, removing them from their container will help save them. You can accomplish this by gently pulling off any moss on top of the soil with your fingers before setting the plant aside.
Add A Little Water to Your Air Plant, But Do Not Overwater
If you notice your air plant is starting to rot because it wasn’t absorbing water properly, then the first thing that you should do is add a little bit of distilled or rainwater directly on top of its soil. After adding moisture back into this desert-dweller, wait for about an hour or two before adding any more water to the soil.
Be Careful Not To Overwater Your Air Plant Again
While it’s important that you add moisture back into your air plant, make sure not to overdo it again. It might take several days (or weeks) until the humidity around this houseplant starts to go back up again, so keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
Use Only Distilled or Rainwater on Your Air Plant Again
Now that you’ve noticed your air plant has started to rot because of how much water they were absorbing, make sure never to use normal tap or filtered drinking water ever again. This is because water from these sources may contain chemicals, minerals and pollutants that can damage the health of your air plant.
Return Your Air Plant to Its Pot
Finally, after you’ve successfully removed the rotting parts on your houseplant leaves, start slowly adding distilled or rainwater to their soil again. After a few weeks, you can also add some moss back over the top of this desert-dwellers soil and then place it back in its usual spot inside your home or office.
For even better results, try using a spray bottle to mist the air around your plant and keep it moist all day long. Doing this will help raise humidity levels right away, which is extremely beneficial for saving an air plant that’s starting to rot due to low moisture levels in the air.
Keep Your Air Plant Clean at All Times For Better Results
The final step that you can take to help save your air plant is keeping it clean. This means you should wipe the leaves of this houseplant every day using a damp cloth or paper towel so that they won’t collect dust and other particles around your home or office space. Dust on top of their leaves will only make them rot faster, so keep them as healthy as possible by wiping them clean.
Stay Away From Plant Food and Other Chemicals
Do not use plant food or any other uncertified fertilizers on your air plants, as this can do more harm than good for these unique houseplants. If you notice that the leaves of your desert-dweller have started to turn brown around the edges, then you should remove them from the soil and put this houseplant away for a few days.
If your air plant isn’t absorbing water anymore or its leaves are starting to look wrinkled, it’s time to start these simple steps immediately. In case there is no sign of rotting on the leaves, then the chances are that humidity levels in their immediate environment have gone down.
To help fix this, try adding a little bit of distilled or rainwater directly on top of the soil and wait for an hour before adding more water. If your air plant is turning bad because it absorbed too much moisture from its surroundings over time, remove them from their container by gently pulling off any moss on top of the soil. Then, add a little bit of distilled or rainwater directly on top of their soil and wait for about an hour before adding more water to the container.
If you notice brown spots forming around your air plant’s leaves, then you should remove them from this houseplant entirely and put them away for a few days so that humidity levels can go back to normal.
Rot in air plants can be a serious problem. This is especially so if you notice brown spots forming on the leaves of this plant. If there is no sign of rotting, then the chances are that humidity levels in your home or office have gone down because it’s starting to get colder outside as winter sets in. Taking the right steps towards saving your air plant is essential. Whether it’s making sure these desert-dwellers get enough humidity levels or adding distilled or rainwater directly on top of this houseplant, you are doing their health a huge favor.