the lovely xerographica: air plant care helping hands

oh xero how i love thee.

you have become a bad collecting habit but since you clean my air i will look the other way and continue to hoard....ahem collect you.

now that, that is out of the way. 

i did a post about air plants last year with a little bit of information regarding their care.

it can be found here

Today we are going to do a much more in depth post on air plant care for everyone out there, for my customers that are nervous to take the first step and for me so i don't forget what I have found out.

Let's start at the beginning

The most common problem I see when people are just starting out with air plants is people assuming that by their name air plants require only air to survive.
The term of air plant actually refers to the plant not requiring soil to survive but because it is a plant still requires watering in our homes.

Air plants are epiphytic, which means they grow on other plants or trees without causing the original plant harm. Their native environments are in Central America and South America.

Here are some of the best air plant care practices we have found through instruction from my greenhouse and through trial and error in actual home and store environments.


- air plants need medium bright light but never direct sunlight as your air plant can get a sun burn and die. air plants can tolerate being not right in the window and even into your room farther but they cannot be kept in a room with no windows or lighting. 

- air plants can get away with using fluorescent lighting however keeping in mind that this is not natural daylight and the plant will need to be close to the light source and for about 12 hours a day for this method to work. worst comes to worst if you are trying to brighten your office space, find a window on the weekend and place it on a desk or chair near the window [remember not in direct sunlight] 


watering your air plant is the hardest part of the instructions as everyone's homes differ and in canada our seasons change.
air plants require high humidity to thrive. depending on the amount of light your air plant is receiving you will need to mist with a water bottle in between waterings to keep the plant healthy.

you really need to take a look at the place you are putting your air plant. is it getting a lot of light? how warm do you keep your home? are you placing your plant in a very dry space? these questions will help you adapt your air plant care for success. just saying water every 2 weeks and mist once a week all year may not work for you as your home changes so dramatically.

so now that i have confused you lets get a starting point:

small air plants should be soaked every 1-2 weeks in a vessel of water large enough to cover completely with room temperature tap water. allow to soak for 15-20 minutes, remove, shake out the excess water and allow to dry on a towel UPSIDE DOWN in a bright space.

large air plants like the xerographicas pictured here can be soaked every 2-3 weeks for 20 minutes and shaken to remove excess water and allow to dry upside down until their grey colours starts returning indicating they aren't soaking wet anymore.

all air plants can be misted 1-2 times per week.

IMPORTANT side note information for watering:
- air plants should always be watered in the morning to early afternoon only, never at night as watering interrupts the plants ability to breathe properly and extends drying time

- your plant from the time soaking ends should be allowed to dry in 1-4 hours. any longer and the plant can succumb to rot around the root ball.

- plant not drying in a timely fashion? i have found luck with turning on my furnace fan [not turning on the heat, just the fan] and allowing my plants to sit on the vent for 10 min to help get air up into the roots.

i am going to give you my example at home for watering plants

My air plants all sit into the rooms receiving medium light.
We keep our home at 65 degrees at this time of year so, cool.
We have a humidifier on our furnace and I have a free standing home humidifier we use in the bedrooms in the winter  plus I am a plant hoarder so, moderately humid

I water my air plants every 2-3 weeks in the winter and mist completely 2 times per week.
It takes my large xerographicas 2 hours to dry on a towel on my kitchen counter with each receiving 10 minutes on a furnace vent.

In the summer time,
We keep our home at 75 degrees which means our air conditioning is not running full tilt as we are outside mainly and our home keeps the humidity from the outdoors

In the summer I water my air plants once a week and mist once a week.

See the variation and difference depending on location? Some people keep their home at 75 degrees in the winter with a wood burning stove. Hot and dry so your instructions would vary greatly from the care my plants receive but it just means that you need to adjust to keep your plant happy.


Generally air plants are easy going when it comes to the temperatures they live in. They can do well anywhere from 55-90 degrees and like their nights to be cool just like orchids.

The plant will start to get wrinkled if they are being under watered and if you are over watering, unfortunately you will know. The centre of the plant will let go and when you go to shake after watering your whole plant will fall apart.

Air plants can flower once in their life time as well as grow little pups off their sides that later become their own air plant. Pups shouldn't be removed until they are about a 1/3 of the mother plants size as they are feeding off the mother for nutrients when they are tiny.

You can also trim any dead curls off the tails of your air plants just be careful not to cut too much into a healthy leaf, dead parts only. The good leaves are how your plant breathes.

Well I hope this helps everyone. Feel free to share your success or air plant sorrow stories below. Remember plants like anything else are a learning experience. Just because you kill one does not mean your thumb is black and that you should never look at another plant again. It means you learn from your mistakes and enjoy the process.

Have a great day,


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