What Does an Underwatered Air Plant Look Like?

You’re reading this blog post because you need an answer to the question, “What does an underwatered air plant look like?” Caring for air plants is relatively easy. However, they have problems, too, like other plants. Determining how often to water them is among the challenges you’ll likely experience when caring for your air plants. Luckily, you can quickly notice underwatered plant signs if you know how to do it. This blog post highlights the symptoms of an underwatered air plant.

What Does an Underwatered Air Plant Look Like- Top Signs

Is my air plant overwatered or underwatered? That might be what you’re wondering. Generally, this plant communicates its thirst with its leaves. So, the leaves’ appearance is the best indicator of an overwatered or underwatered air plant. Here are the top signs of a dehydrated air plant.

Air Plant Turning Yellow

If you notice an air plant turning brown or yellow before wilting, you’re probably underwatering it. But this can also indicate overwatering the air plant. So, checking the texture of the leaves will tell the difference. If you notice the air plant turning grey, crunchy, and dry, you are underwatering it. Therefore, consider watering more often if the air plant turns brown at the base. But you’re overwatering if the leaves appear discolored and limp rather than crispy.

Odd Growth

Still wondering, what does an underwatered air plant look like? By looking at its growth, you can also tell whether you’re watering your air plant correctly. For instance, strange blisters that form warty growths when healing can indicate an overwatered air plant. It happens when the plant cells absorb excess water, which bursts them. Also, you can notice a decline in the air plant’s growth rate. Again, this happens due to under- or overwatering.

How to Tell if Air Plant is Underwatered from the General Appearance

What does an underwatered ZZ plant look like? Most air plants, such as Xeographica, require minimal water to survive. However, insufficient watering can dehydrate them, leading to the following signs:

  • General dull appearance
  • Dying out tips of the leaves
  • Leaves forming a U-shape
  • Drooping of the leaves

Air plants are drought-tolerant. They can absorb nutrients via the leaves and survive. Perhaps, that’s why many people ask, what does an underwatered air plant look like? So, what does an air plant need to survive? As the name suggests, the plants air and water around us are sufficient to keep them alive for some days. But keeping your air plants beautiful requires watering and attention.

So, respond by increasing the watering frequency if you notice air plant brown tips getting wispy or crunchy because your plant will eventually die if you do nothing. So, now that you have the answer to the question, what does an underwatered air plant look like? Let’s move on to fix the issue.

How to Revive an Underwatered Air Plant

Before reviving a dehydrated air plant, it’s crucial to note that overwatering can also kill your air plant. Thus, you may eventually start searching for the phrase “how to revive a rotting air plant” if you’re not careful. Also, various species of air plant exists. Therefore, know which air plants should not be soaked when determining the correct watering intervals. Here’s how to save a dehydrated air plant.

Remove the Dried and Dead Parts

Stop asking, what does an underwatered air plant look like? Instead, remove the dead leaves or other parts of the plant. That way, you will know whether your air plant is alive and help it focus on growing new leaves rather than repairing the damaged ones.

Soak Your Air Plant

Put your dry air plant in water for five to eight hours. The plant will show some changes after soaking it once. However, these changes will be minimal, requiring careful observation.

Alter Your Watering Routine

Are you still wasting more time wondering, what does an underwatered air plant look like? Please stop and soak the air plant for at least 20 minutes every week. However, this should depend on the immediate environment of your plant.

These tips should help you revive your underwatered air plant. Again, be cautious to avoid overwatering the air plant.

What Does an Overwatered Air Plant Look Like?

Like underwatering, overwatering air plants is also bad news. Overwatering is the most prominent reason for air plant deaths. Here are the most common signs of overwatered air plants.

  • Air plant turning dark at the leaves
  • Air plant leaves falling from the middle
  • Air plant leaves turning yellow

Take immediate action upon noticing these signs to prevent permanent damage.

How to Revive Overwatered Air Plant

Once you’ve noticed the above signs of an overwatered air plant, follow these steps to rescue it.

  • Remove the rotten or infected parts to prevent the spread
  • Dry the air plant, and use a fan if necessary
  • Set the air plant on a dry media like dry rocks

What does a dead air plant look like? Maybe that’s what you’re wondering because you’re unsure whether your plant is dead or alive.

Signs of Dead Air Plants

If you think your plant is dead, you might also wonder, what does an underwatered air plant look like? Maybe you have noticed signs that make you unsure whether your air plant is dead or alive. Your air plant’s appearance has changed, or it takes longer to flower. Here’s how to know if the air plant is dead or alive.

Curlier Leaves

If the air plant’s leaves are curlier, soak it overnight and repeat it for three to four days. Dry the plant between watering, and if you don’t notice recovery signs, the plant is probably dead.

Air Plant Leaves Turning Brown

Browning leaf tips indicate a thirsty air plant. Therefore, prune those tips to ensure the plant focuses on growth instead of nursing the dead parts. Again, soak the plant as advised above.

Black or Purple Air Plant Base

A black or purple base indicates air plant dry rot. And this can happen if the plant has been in water for an extended duration. Such a plant will unlikely recover, though you can dry it out before giving up. So, stop wondering, what does an underwatered air plant look like and act.

Crumbling in Your Hands

Extreme dehydration or exposure to copper or nitrogen can make Tillandsia crumble in your hands. That means the air plant has already died.

Dead Flowers

In the wild, air plants grow to reproduce, attracting pollinators with their fragrances and bright flowers. When growing indoors, air plants generate new shoots to reproduce. Adult plants fade away after achieving their purpose. Nevertheless, depending on the species, size, and care, this can take months or weeks.

How Often Should You Water Air Plants?

Now, you’re not asking, “What does an underwatered air plant look like?” However, you want to know how to ensure proper air plant watering. So, how often should you water the air plant? Well, several factors influence air plant watering frequency. They include the following:

Air Plant Variety

Only some air plant varieties require long soaking to hydrate. Therefore, learn about your air plant variety to determine how often to water it. That way, you will avoid getting to a point of asking, what does an underwatered air plant look like?


When growing air plants in humid areas, water them for fewer sessions. However, consider increasing the watering frequency for air plants in dry areas.


The heat or light you expose air plants to will also influence how often you water them. If your air plants grow in direct sunlight, water them more often than those chilling in the shade. Indirect light is ideal because it prevents sun damage or dehydration.

Air Circulation

Air circulation is also vital for air plants. Inappropriate air circulation leaves moisture sitting on the plants, encouraging mold development. And this will also require you to adjust your watering routine. Also, ensure proper air circulation to avoid getting to a point of asking, what does an underwatered air plant look like?

How to Avoid Overwatering or Underwatering Air Plants

Adapting a proper and more effective routine will help avoid overwatering or underwatering air plants. Since you’re no longer wondering what does an underwatered air plant look like, follow these tips to ensure you supply adequate water.

  • Soak your air plant: Set your phone or alarm to notify you to ensure you don’t soak your air plant for a prolonged period.
  • Remove excess water: Have the air plant upside-down after every watering session. That way, excess water will drip down without your intervention.
  • Dry the air plants: Dry your plants entirely before returning them to their display container. This practice ensures the plant only sits on a paddle for a short time to avoid the effect of display containers with poor ventilation.

Parting Shot

Most people wonder what does an underwatered air plant look like because they are still determining whether they are overwatering or underwatering their ZZ plants. This content has answered the question, what does an underwatered air plant look like. It has also highlighted the signs of overwatered air plants and provided tips for ensuring the correct watering. Follow them to ensure your air plant grows healthy to serve its purpose in your home.


How do you know if an air plant is under or overwatered?

An overwatered air plant has rotting signs, such as soft, brown patches at its base. An underwatered air plant has curling leaves with drying tips. 

What does an overwatered air plant look like?

An overwatered air plant has falling-out centers of the leaves. Also, the plant base can turn brown or black when starting to rot due to excess water. 

How long should I soak my air plants in water?

Watering an air plant requires placing it in the water facing down in a sink or container for 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, dunk the plant in water several times. Shake the excess water gently after soaking to prevent damage or rotting.

Henry Mugambi

Henry Mugambi

Take a look at this guy. He's almost in his 40s, but he looks like he could be in his 20s. That's because he's a gardener—and a damn good one, too. He's been gardening since he was a little kid, and he loves nothing more than sharing his tips with others. He started blogging a few years ago, and his blog has since become a go-to source for gardening information. His audience trusts him because he knows his stuff, and he always offers sound advice that helps people get the most out of their gardens.

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