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How Long Can Air Plants Live Without Water?

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Proper care is a perfect recipe for thriving air plants. As much as air plants are ranked among the easiest houseplants to care for, it would be best if you still gave them some attention. Giving your air plants attention includes providing the water they need, adequate light, good air circulation, and boosting their health with fertilizers such as an orchid plant food.

Air plants can live for two weeks without water. And even though the plant is still alive, its health is affected. You should soak your air plants in water at least once in two weeks and mist them once a week regarding the proper watering schedule.

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With frequent watering, they will stay hydrated and have all the moisture they need to carry out vital processes such as photosynthesis. But what happens when you cannot water your air plants according to schedule? How long can they survive without water?

We have pieced together this highly informative article to clarify this topic. Are you planning to be away from home for some days and worried that your air plants might wither while you are away? Or are you having a busy schedule and lack time to water your air plants as needed? If yes, this article is for you! Read on to learn just how long it takes for your air plants actually to be affected by the lack of water.

Image of hanging air plants

Factors That Influence How Long Air Plants Can Live Without Water

To start, we will list down some of the factors that determine how long air plants can stay without water. They include the following:

  • Their natural habitat
  • The species of the tillandsia
  • The indoor conditions
  • The climate of the region
  • Seasons and the current weather

Now, let’s examine further how each of these factors influences the duration an air plant can stay without getting water.

Their Natural Habitat

Image of an air plant growing in its natural habitat

Indoor air plants are classified into two categories based on their physiology and relationship with water. They can either be mesic or xeric. Mesic air plants are those whose natural habitat is heavy rainforest canopies, and these areas are known to have high levels of humidity. On the other hand, xeric air plants are native to high-altitude areas with drier conditions and more extended periods of light.

An air plant’s natural habitat considerably influences the length of time it can stay without water. Xeric air plants are more tolerant to dry conditions than mesic ones. You will find xeric air plants in deserts and mountain regions, the arid habitats. Therefore, these plants are accustomed to living for months without water, and they have a more excellent capability to derive moisture from the surrounding air.

The situation is different for mesic air plants. In their natural habitat, they are used to good moisture levels, and you will therefore need to water them regularly. The most amount of time they can survive without water is two weeks.

The Species of the Air Plant

Image of different species of air plants

The species of an air plant also impact how long it can stay without water. For instance, you will notice that Tillandsia xerographica plants have higher dry tolerance levels than other varieties like Tillandsia cyanea. Additionally, air plants with silvery leaves will survive longer without water than those with darker green leaves.

Another aspect that results in differences in how long different species of air plants can survive without water is the trichomes. These hairy substances on their leaves help absorb water, just as roots do in other plants. The more trichomes a particular species has, the longer it can survive without water. In a nutshell, we have air plant varieties that can stay for about two weeks without water.

The Indoor Conditions

Image of an air plant growing in pebbles indoors

Moisture levels vary in different locations in a home. You will find that when you place your air plants in a particular space in your home, they may be exposed to more moisture than they would in another. For example, an air plant placed on a bathroom window will get more humidity than the one placed near a fireplace. Also, an air plant near a kitchen sink will be exposed to more moisture than the one on the living room window.

These conditions directly correlate to how long an air plant can stay without water. If your indoor air plant is in a high-moisture area, it can survive for long without the need for you to water it, and this is because it will easily take in moisture from the air around it. But in case the indoor conditions are dry, your air plant will witness the adverse effects of underwatering within fewer days.

An air plant placed on a bathroom window can survive for two weeks without water, while the one near a fireplace will dehydratemmw3m within a week.

The Climate of the Region

Image of an airplant in between the dry and rainy climates

Different climates dictate the watering needs of air plants. Those in dry climates need to water their plants more than those in a wet environment. It also means that if you live in a dry climate such as Arizona, your air plant will not survive without water. The same idea on the amount of moisture available in the air applies in this case. In dry climates, your air plant will not have the alternative of obtaining water from the surrounding air since this is limited.

But if you are in a wet area like Alaska, your air plants can survive for more extended periods without water. The natural humidity in the air will keep the plants moisturized enough allowing you to skip more days without misting them. Such plants also need less frequent soaking. We can safely say that an air plant in a wet climate can survive for some weeks without water, while one in a dry environment will be thirsty in a matter of days.

Seasons and the Current Weather

Image of four leaves that signifies the four seasons, summer, winter, spring and fall

Seasons change within a year, impacting how much water your air plant needs. During the winter months, your plants can survive for up to three weeks without the need to water them because the surrounding is moist enough. However, consider that this can be affected because we use heaters a lot during this season.

A heater can dry up your air plants, meaning you need to water them more. The best thing to do is if your plant is thirsty and water it accordingly.

Moreover, during the summer months, it’s hot, and your plant is probably receiving a lot of sunlight. It, therefore, means you will need to water it more frequently. In this season, your air plant may not stay for over a week without water. Even if it survives this period of dryness, it will not thrive.

What Happens When Air Plants Stay for Long Without Water?

If you are away from home for some days, your air plant might have to stay without water during this time. You are probably wondering how this will affect your plant. If your air plant stays without water for long, it will be dehydrated, and you will observe the following:

  • The tips of its leaves will start drying up, turn brown and become crispy.
  • The leaves can also curl.
  • Your air plant will look a bit dull.
  • The shape of the leaves will be affected, and you will see its concave nature seem enhanced.

The good thing is rectifying the situation is both possible and easy if done in good time. The first thing you will do when you get back home is to remove the dead or dry parts of the air plant. You will then get a bowl of water and soak your plant for a few hours. The best water to use for this is rainwater or any unchlorinated water. After soaking, you will allow your plant to drain excess water before putting it back to its original location.

Afterward, give it adequate water through both soaking and misting, and it will thrive once more. Air plants are hardy plants and are considered hard plants to kill. Worry less that a lack of water can cause you to lose your precious plant. But still, be careful not to let your plant stay for far too long without getting water. Water is still an essential part of its life, and you do not want to deny your beloved air plant this precious substance intentionally.

Image of air plant growing in a tree canopy

To Summarize

Air plants are houseplants that can stay for a long time without water. Based on our findings, the average period air plants can survive without water is about two weeks, and this period can be extended or shortened by the factors we have explained above. To summarize everything, we pointed out that:

  • The natural habitat of your air plant dictates how long it can stay without water. If it is a xeric one it can survive for even more than two weeks because it is used to dry conditions. But if it is a mesic one don’t leave it thirsty for more than two weeks.
  • Certain air plant species are built to withstand dry periods for longer. It is important that you consider the species of your air plant before determining how long you can let it stay without water. Looking at simple things like the type of its leaves will be helpful.
  • The indoor conditions you subject your air plant to also matter. Place your plant in a moist area and have the liberty of skipping more days without watering it and vice versa.
  • Lastly, both the climate of the area and season of the year have an implication on how long your air plant can survive without water.

You can find The Complete tillandsia care guide here.

FAQ’s about Air Plants (Tillandsia)


Conclusively, we believe that no accurate time frame responds to how long air plants can stay without water. Several factors influence this, and you may need to make an individual conclusion when you observe your plants based on the different personalized factors.

But what we can say is, when you give your air plants the best care and pick a species that fits your environment, they will be able to survive longer without water. So, when that time comes to leave home for some weeks, worry less that your air plants will die but instead trust that they have the inherent capacity to wait for you!

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