The Summer holidays have been amazing, right?! In London the sun was bright and hot, inviting to relax in long summer evenings. Point being, I did not water my Air Plants regularly and they are showing it - so how to revive them?!
First things first, it is usually a winter sickness but just in case - it is likely that an Air Plant has rot if your plant shows brown leaves or has leaves falling out from the centre. This happens if it is over-watered, sometimes when you spray your Air Plants but the ventilation afterwards isn't good enough or they could not fully dry in the base area of the plant after dunking it in water [recommended method]. Unfortunately, not much can be done here. Don't be sad, these things happen and it just means you cared too much.
However, should you find the base in the early stages of turning brown, developing rot or just part of it has a brown 'wet' feeling spot to it, not all hope is lost. And you can proceed in the same manner as with the summer sickness.
Summer sick Air Plants are plants who show signs of dry leaf tips or even whole dry leaves, the leaves are often too curly or too pale and not stiff. The Air Plant itself looks small and 'weak'. I captured a few of those signs in the picture row below to help illustrate the signs.
Your Air Plant just had enough and will appreciate the following.
Prep a first aid 'doping' Air Plant bath for them with filtered lukewarm water and let them soak for a couple of hours.
After a while [1 to 3 hours] you should be able to notice that the leaves uncurl and stiffen. Often the whole plant looks and feels bigger. At that stage I take the plant out of the water and use the strengthened yet wet state to take off all proper dry, brown leaves. They are now easy to spot as they are not revived and often on the outside / base area of the plant. Your plant does not need to carry that burden any longer and you should take those outside leaves off one by one in a downward move [picture left]. Take it slow and make sure there is not much of a resistance. If there is - stop for now and put it back into the water.
Well, I think it's time for a cuppa or something else you enjoy doing. Let your plant/s sit in the water for at least another hour or so. Once you decide it's time and it looks all strong, even though not totally good, get your work station prepped. You will need a towel to have it dry on and some fine clean scissors.
If you trim [prune] the brown tips will be up to you and your preferences. Brown tips are not harmful to your Air Plant and often rarely visible, especially with all the silver greyish plants [for example the Oaxacana or C. Medusae].
But should you decide that your plant could benefit from this and if you have a rather green plant like a B. Multiflora it is most likely that it will, go for an angled cut [image above]. This way the cut will create an illusion of a leave tip rather than a shout of 'Hey, I got cut'. Done and done, put your plant upside down on the towel and let it dry for several hours before putting it back upright in your himmeli, wallhanging or into the concrete vessel.
Your Air Plant should be healing now and in about 3 to 4 days you should prep another bath for it or them. Just to help it a bit more. From there you should start your new care / watering cycle, depending on the needs by temperature and plant, once a week to once a month.
Should you feel, that your plant needs an extra push to make it or you are simply after totally stunning looking plants that earn you bragging rights - maybe fertilising is your way
forward. Now, I have not done that myself. Usually the lukewarm water is the upmost I do, besides from talking to them. But these are the options I read about.
You could add once a month a bromeliad [Air Plants belong to that plant family] mix to the water. This is a rather special thing but I have been told that a water-soluble fertilizer will do. By that I mean stuff like Mircal-Grow or Rapid Grow, houseplant fertilizer at 1/4 strength or lower. Well, I would love to hear your insides as I have not done it so far. In any case don't over do it as I found these cuties don't take easy to a change of water and my London unfiltered tap water did kill the pour plant as I made the test. So be sure to read instructions carefully and use filtered water.
Wow, that was quite a chunk of first aid but you can do it and our plant kindness will be good for our karma!