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How to Dry Air Plants

Properly Drying Air Plants Will Prevent Crown Rot

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how to dry air plants

How to Dry Air Plants Properly

Learning how to dry air plants properly is simple, and takes extra time. But, the results are worth it: healthy air plants. If air plants are not dried properly, water will accumulate in the cup of the plant. Rot will slowly kill an air plant.

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Since not all air plants are convenient to remove from their display, we’ll also discuss how to dry air plants that are glued to an arrangement.

Discover how to dry your air plants

After soaking your air plants for up to several hours, the water needs to drain away from the plants in order to prevent crown rot. One way to do this is to lay the plant on its side, on a towel. Another way, and this is my preferred method, is to set the plants in a dish drainer.

Why I like the dish-drainer drying method:

  • You can set the plants upside-down, rather than just on their sides without crushing any of the delicate leaves.
  • Some air plants have hook at their base. These natural hooks are nice because you can hook the air plants on the edge of the dish drainer. This way the plants are completely upside-down and the water and freely drain away from the plant.
  • The air plant’s leaves are all protected from pressing against the dish drainer’s wires.
  • This method also allows for many more air plants to be placed inside the dish drainer, as all air plants do not have their own “hook.”
air plants - how to dry

This T. abdita has a handy hook as its base where I can place it on the top edge of the dish drainer to dry.

use a dish drainer to dry air plants

By using the “hooks” on the ends of some air plants, a dish drainer will hold several more air plants than it otherwise would.

What to do when your air plant is glued to it’s display:

If your air plant is permanently affixed to an arrangement it can be trickier to both water and dry. I recommend reading my post on watering air plants on tips for watering.

Watering Air Plants

Fact and Fiction


After watering your air plant arrangement, I recommend tilting the display so that water can drain away from the plants. I know, it may take a bit of finagling, but it’s worth it. Your air plants will live much longer, healthier lives.

how to dry an air plant display

You may need to rest the arrangement against a wall or another stable object so that the display remains in a position to allow water to drain away from the air plant.


How long do air plants need to dry?

Before returning air plants to their display, let the plants dry for about four hours. If you don’t have a dish drainer, don’t worry. A towel will work. Most importantly, be sure that water drains away from the plant. Whichever method you use, towel or dish drainer, is secondary.

Beware of the Purple Hue

You will know if crown rot has set in because you will see a purple, or even blackish color begin to creep up from the base of the plant. Once rot has set in, it cannot be reversed. On the up-side, it does take a long time for an air plant to die. If rot has set in, you can continue to enjoy it for a while longer. And, you’ve learned an important lesson. Crown rot is 100% preventable, and now you can keep it from endangering your plants.

You’re Turn

Now you know how to dry air plants so that water drains away from the plant. Set the plant either on it’s side, or upside-down, or even hooked over the edge of a dish drainer. If you’re drying air plants glued to their display, get creative, but don’t allow water to pool in the cup of the plant.

Watering Air Plants

Fact and Fiction



  1. Brigitte Schumacher says:

    Can you dry air plants in silica and place them in resin?

    1. Anna says:

      Do you mean as a way to dry and preserve air plants? This sounds interesting, but I have never tried it, but if you do, I would love to hear how it works for you.
      Kindest regards,

  2. Khushroo Dubash says:

    If plants are soaked as you have suggested, is there any need to spray them daily as well?
    And if these are mounted, can these just be sprayed each day, instead of soaking them?

    1. Anna says:

      I don’t mist any of my air plants, except for my T. tectorum, which I do not soak. I do use a humidifier set to low.

      Mounted air plants can be sprayed – it is just not ideal. When misting, be as thorough as possible and be sure to let the air plants drain as accumulated moisture in the cup of the air plant can cause rot.
      Have a great day,

  3. May says:

    Do you still soak air plants if they have flowered?

    1. Anna says:

      Since the flowers are delicate, you can run tepid water over the plant being careful to shield the flower with your hand. Once the flower has started to fade, soak the air plant as usual.
      Thank you for your thoughtful question,

  4. Betty says:

    How often should I soak my air plants

    1. Anna says:

      Watering frequency depends on your climate. I live in the desert, but I do use a humidifier and keep my indoor humidity levels between 40-50%. I soak my air plants once a week for a couple of hours. After soaking I let them dry for at least 4 hours before returning them to their displays.
      Enjoy your air plants!
      Thank you for your comment,

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