How To Revive A Dying Airplant

bring tillandsia back to life with these tips

The best thing about air plants is that you can grow them anywhere. Known for their spike-like, scaly green foliage, air plants are a striking addition to both indoor and outdoor spaces. These epiphytic plants don’t need soil to grow. They receive all the nutrients and moisture from the air through their leaves.

Air plants are low-maintenance. However, if yours are looking droopy, shriveled, or brown, they may be in need of some extra care. Thankfully, reviving air plants is not that hard. There are many quick fixes like trimming off the dead, affected branches or immersing the plant in water.

Let’s dive into some surefire ways to pump some life back into your air plants!

How Do You Revive an Air Plant?

Air plants will start looking limp or brown if they’re extremely thirsty. Before treating them, it’s crucial to know why they’re looking sickly in the first place. Typically, an air plant can develop shriveled, curled up leaves when it remains devoid of water for too long.

If the entire plant looks damaged, reviving it might be difficult. If you see splashes of living color on the leaves, then there’s hope. Here we provide two easy solutions to inject life into your air plants.

Soak It Overnight

Soaking the air plants should be your first call of action. It’s the best way to revive air plants. If you’re short on time, you can submerge the plants underwater for 6-8 hours. This will give them ample time to soak up all the moisture and nutrients.

The best method of soaking is to do it overnight. Start by pouring lukewarm water into a big bowl that’s deep enough to soak the entire air plant. The ideal level of the water should be 1-2 inches below the bowl’s lip. That will ensure consistent and enough hydration for the plant.

Take the affected air plant and submerge it into the water. The key is to keep the plant immersed in water. To avoid it from floating upwards, tie the air plant to a weighty object like a pebble or rock. This will keep it underwater for the entire night.

You can always pour additional water if needed, but make sure it’s lukewarm. The warm temperature will provide a gentle bath for the air plants to revive. Try to maintain a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Once the plants have finished soaking, it’s time to remove them from the bowl.

Shake off any extra moisture or dampness on the air plant. You should let it dry for about 4-5 hours in a well-lit place. This step is very crucial as allowing the dampness to stay can spell death for an air plant. Over-watering is as problematic as dehydration. 

You can spread out a few paper towels and lay the air plants over them. Turn on the fan on medium-low or dry them out in a bright spot. It’s possible that soaking them once might not be enough. Check the air plant for leaf curling 2-3 days following the overnight soaking.

If you do detect any such signs, you may repeat the soaking process. In fact, submerge them in water every 2-3 days until the plants don’t appear dry or sick anymore. By this time, they will also slowly gain back their color.

Once you’re certain that the plants are good to go, limit the soaking to once a week or two weeks. However, cut the duration short to only 15-20 minutes. Be careful of the weather at this stage. If it’s too humid, avoid soaking.

You can reduce the frequency in winters as the air plants won’t be needing much hydration. In summers, submerging them underwater a few hours every week will do.

Remove Dead Leaves

The second super-easy and natural method is removing any dead leaves. Allowing them to hang on can restrict air circulation and sunshine absorption of the fresh leaves. You can do this by gently tugging at the leaves. They’ll come off if they’re dead and brown.

If tugging causes the entire plant to fall apart, you’re in for some bad news. Your air plant might have died already. The key to reviving it is to look for green, healthy leaves on the plant. But if there aren’t any, you will have to discard the air plant.

Removing dead leaves will allow healthier leaves to come to the surface. Since air plants get their nutrients and moisture from the atmosphere, this is very important. You may even realize that tugging off dead leaves was all you needed for the plant to jump back to life.

Above all, it will help the healthy leaves enjoy the sun all day long. Plucking out dead leaves will also keep plant pests at bay. Most pests are heavily attracted to decaying leaves. The problem can spill onto the healthier, green leaves that also face damage at the hands of pests. 

A struggling air plant is the most common recipient of pests. Therefore, always remove the dead branches to allow the colorful, healthy leaves to surface.

What Does a Healthy Air Plant Look Like?

Detecting a healthy air plant is simple. It will have healthy, green to gray leaves. An air plant that receives bright but indirect sunlight with ample moisture will very likely be healthy. A healthy air plant that has hydrated will have flatter, wider leaves.

The ones that have visible trichomes will appear extra fuzzy and healthy. The entire game consists of hydration. Air plants use their leaves to communicate their thirst. If they’re healthy, their leaves will be full of color and vibrant with no yellowish-brown tips. 

How Do You Know When Air Plants Are Dead?

If by plucking out dead leaves, the entire air plant falls apart, then it has already died. If the air plant succumbs to rot, reviving might not be possible. This will likely happen if the plant’s base has turned black or brown or if the leaves are wilting and falling off from the center.


Even when air plant care is easy and low-maintenance, they can look sickly or limp sometimes. Whenever you spot any such signs, immediately know that the cause could be dehydration. Luckily, you can stop the plant from dying by following the tips mentioned above.


Why Are My Air Plants Turning Brown or Black?

If you can see brown or black spots on the plant’s base, the culprit could be over-watering. This can cause the air plant to rot and hence, turn brownish-black in color. Alternatively, if the leaves look crispy and brown, the cause is usually under-watering.

Why Is My Air Plant Turning White or Gray?

If your air plants have turned white or gray, you can still save them. The lack of color is a result of the trichomes becoming more prominent, which in turn makes the plant appear paler than normal. These are early signs, indicating that your air plant is dying and the cause is a lack of water. 

Why Is My Air Plant Curling?

The leaves of the air plant curl up to decrease water loss. By closing up tightly, they tend to keep moisture. This obviously indicates that your air plant needs more water.

Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print