Air Plant Pruning

how to care for air plants tillandsia

Like any other plant, air plants also need pruning for appropriate maintenance. It helps them to get rid of brown and dead leaves that hamper healthy growth. Air plants are generally known for being low maintenance and easy plants to care for. With a little trimming and pruning, you can help them maintain their beauty.

These plants are also very hardy and thrive even after you cut some of their leaves. But, it is still important to take great care while trimming the leaves.

Air plant pruning is a horticulture practice that involves cutting off the dead leaves and parts of an air plant. The damaged and dried parts of an air plant are more prone to rot and decay and cutting them off also maintains the beauty of your air plant. Since the leaves cannot revive by themselves once you have cut off a part of the plant, we recommend you to trim your air plant with great care. Do not trim your air plant so much that the plant is not left with enough foliage to perform the regular photosynthesis and other processes. The air plant may also wilt or dry up if you trim it excessively.

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Dead Leaves

Like other plants, air plants also lose some of their leaves as the leaves wilt and dry due to a changing environment. Some brown or dead leaves do not show that the plant has problems because new leaves grow as the plant matures.

You might often find dead or brown leaves at the base of the air plant and you can take them off your air plant by tugging them gently.

Sometimes, a pup grows under a brown leaf to get shelter so it is important to look for a pup under it before pulling out the dead leaf. If you find a pup, you should leave the brown leaf until the pup is one-third the size of the air plant and then you can remove the dead leaf.

Broken Leaves

Sometimes, air plants also have broken leaves like any other plant. Despite the damaged leaves, the air plant is healthy and can survive without any problem. But, to maintain the beauty of your air plant, you should trim the broken leaves in a way that you only cut off the damaged part of the air plant.

You should also be careful not to trim off too much of the healthy part of the plant. Air plants are hardy and can survive a range of conditions. That said, trimming their healthy leaves causes air plant harm. The healthy leaves that are significant in absorbing nutrients and moisture from the air.

Browning Leaves

Air plant care may be simple but it’s important to follow the right steps when you’re pruning them. If you put your air plant in direct sun or do not water it, the leaves of your air plant can start turning brown in color.

Besides providing the appropriate cultural care, it is also important to trim off the brown leaves of the air plant. If some of the leaves have turned brown, you should carefully cut off those leaves without damaging the healthy part of the plant.
We recommend you not to cut off the brown part of the leaf straight out; in fact, tilt your scissors and trim the leaf in a more natural shape.

Check out our recommended Okatsune Garden Scissors here.

If the leaves of your air plants are also curling along with browning, it indicates the plant needs water. This also indicates that your air plant is getting too much bright sunlight and you need to provide it with indirect light. Some types of air plants have naturally curled leaves, so research about your air plant species before deciding to trim the plant.


Air plants get their name from the fact that they are epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that do not need roots to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil. Instead, they absorb the required nutrients and moisture from the air.

Air plants use their roots instead to attach themselves to a tree or some other surface. Since the roots of an air plant do not absorb nutrients, air plants can survive without them as well. This is especially true if you want to use an air plant for house décor; in a case like that, you can trim off the roots.

If you want to display your air plant on a mounting object, you can use the roots of the air plant to help attach it. Otherwise, you can safely cut off the roots without cutting into the healthy base of the air plant.


Air plant pruning is important because it helps you maintain the beauty of the air plant. It also protects the plant from the susceptibility of rotting or drying due to dead and brown leaves.

By trimming your air plant with a pair of pruning scissors, you can have a healthy and beautiful air plant for your indoor space. Using the simple air plant pruning guidelines in this article, you will learn the correct way to prune your air plants.

You can find the garden scissors that we recommend here.


How do you trim air plants?

There are some important things to remember when you plan to trim your air plant. Start the trimming from the base and move up gradually.

Cut the leaves at a 45 degrees angle to trim them in their most natural shape. You can also cut the roots of an air plant anytime as it will not damage your plant. You can also cut the spike of the air plant after the blooming phase so that the air plant can focus its energy on the growing pup.

Can trimming make my air plant die?

Yes. It is important to take great care while pruning the air plant because cutting too much of the healthy part of the air plant can cause damage to the plant. Do not cut the stem in the middle because an air plant cannot survive or propagate otherwise. You should also use a clean pair of scissors to prevent rotting or plant disease.

Why is my air plant turning brown?

If you are not watering your air plant or you have kept the plant in direct sun, the leaves of the air plant start turning brown. When the leaf tips start turning brown, it shows that your plant is dehydrated. However, if the base of the plant turns brown or black and the plant is also shedding off leaves, this indicates rot is beginning to set in.

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