Air Plant Is Dying – How To Save A Rotting Air Plant

Potted Indoor Air Plant
air plant rot
(Image credit: Tabatha Del Fabbro Lead Images)

One day your air plant looked fabulous and then almost overnight you have what looks like a rotting air plant. There are a couple of other signs, but if your air plant is falling apart, it is likely air plant rot. In effect, your air plant is dying, and it was all preventable. So, what did you do wrong to cause air plant rot?

Is My Air Plant Rotting?

Symptoms of a rotting air plant start as a purplish black color creeping up from the base of the plant into the foliage. The air plant will also begin falling apart, the foliage will begin to drop, or the center of the plant might fall out.

If you see any of these signs, the answer to “is my air plant rotting?” is a resounding, yes. The question is, what can you do about it? Unfortunately, if your air plant is falling apart, there is little to be done. On the upside, if the air plant rot is confined to the outer leaves, you can try to save the plant by removing the infected leaves and then following a strict watering and drying routine.

Why Does My Air Plant Rot?

When an air plant is dying of rot, it all comes down to watering, or more specifically, drainage. Air plants need to be watered by either misting or soaking in water, but they do not like to stay wet. Once the plant has been soaked or misted, it needs to be allowed to dry. If the center of the plant remains wet, fungus takes hold and that’s it for the plant.

Once you are done watering your air plant, whichever way you water, be sure to tilt the plant so it can drain and leave it for about four hours to really dry off. A dish drainer is a great way to accomplish this or upending the plant on a dish towel will work as well.

Keep in mind that different varieties of air plant have different watering needs, but all should not be left submerged for lengthy periods of time. Lastly, if your air plant is in a terrarium or other container, leave the lid off to provide good air flow and minimize the chances of a rotting air plant.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.