We all try to be the best plant parents we can be, but sometimes our plants have issues. It might take a bit of troubleshooting to figure it out, so here are some pointers on how to make your air plants happy. Let us know if you have any other tips or issues you experience!
Issue #1: Air plant leaves are curling
Why: Leaves start to curl when your plant is thirsty. Although it’s called an “air” plant, it still needs water!
Why: The climate your air plant lives in is dry or sits in direct sunlight.
Solution: You can consider turning on a humidifier. Also, move your air plants out of direct sun. Trimming the brown parts of the leaves has no negative effects on the plant and can help make it look better, but it also prevents water from getting stuck on the brown parts and causing rot.
Issue #3: Air plant is starting to rot
Why: Your air plant might be sitting in water, water is staying on leaves or inside the crevices and not drying completely.
Solution: Make sure to shake the water out of your air plants after watering. You can try turning the plant upside down while drying so the water drips out. Also, provide your air plant good airflow by placing it near an open window (not enclosed in a glass globe since there’s no ventilation to allow the plant to dry).
Issue #4: Air plant bloom is dead
Why: Air plant blooms only once in their lifetime.
Solution: Trim the dead bloom off with scissors. If the flower was pollinated, you might be able to extract some seeds. Don’t throw away your plant yet, you might get “pups” or offspring growing from the air plant.
Issue #5: Air plant is producing pups
Why: The plant reproduces by producing pups. A pup is an identical version of the original plant. This happens near the end of an air plant’s life and is one of it’s last duties.
Solution: Let it happen! Continue watering, don’t separate the pups from the mother plant until well established.
Issue #6: Air plant is producing roots
Why: This is natural - although air plants don’t need soil to grow, roots may grow to absorb additional water and moisture from the air.
Solution: You can either leave the roots or trim them off (this won’t hurt the plant).
Issue #7: Air plant has pests
Why: Pests need to eat too. Air plants are pretty hardy, but sometimes can get affected by pests.
Solution: Mealybugs are one of the more common air plant pests, so best to treat them early to prevent further issues. One of our favorite techniques is to use a qtip, dip in rubbing alcohol, and use it to remove the mealybugs off the plant. Squirrels and rats can get interested in air plants outdoors, especially the colorful blooms, so move the plants away from areas where they hang out.