Traveling? Here’s How To Keep Your Air Plants Alive While Away

image of 3 air plants with the title "travel: air plant care" written on it

I’ve been dealing with the dilemma of how to keep my air plants alive while I’m gone on vacation for 3 weeks. After hours of thinking and researching, I’ve decided the best way to keep them alive is to put the Tillandsia in a humid environment while away.

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Understanding Air Plants

If you’re looking at this article, you probably already know what air plants are. If not, let me give you a brief overview. Air plants (Tillandsia) are unique low-maintenance plants that don’t require soil to grow. They absorb all their nutrients and moisture through their leaves from the air and moisture around them.

Due to their lack of roots and soil dependence, air plants survive in a variety of environments. However, they do need to be soaked weekly to keep them alive. So what happens when you go on vacation for more than a week or two? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

(Updated January 2024, after my trip. I’ve kept my original thoughts and struck through anything that I didn’t do. At the bottom of the page is my final overview if you’re curious on reading them)

How I’m Going To Keep My Air Plants Alive While Away

After a lot of thought on this, I’ve decided on a few steps to keep my air plants alive while I’m away. Extra soaking, humidity, and shade are the key!

Normally I soak my air plants for about 15 minutes each week. So right before I leave on my trip, I’m going to soak the plants for 2 hours or longer to ensure they are thoroughly saturated.

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Next, I’m going to put them in a humid environment from direct sunlight. A humid environment should keep the plants hydrated for a longer period of time. This is where my partially open terrarium comes in handy.

My air plants will be living with my fern in it’s terrarium that has a slight gap for air in the top. If you don’t have a terrarium, another option is a plastic bag with holes poked in it to mimic a high environment area. Just be sure to keep them in a shady area!

Other Ideas I Had For Keeping My Tillandsia Alive On Vacation And Why I’m Not

1. I could leave the air plants out and hope for the best. I know they’ve survived 2 weeks without watering, but this would worry me too much during my trip, especially knowing I’ll be gone for even longer than that.

2. Another idea I really thought long and hard about is storing the air plants in the fridge to slow down their metabolic process. My fear with this is the lack of light in a closed refrigerator and a lack of humidity.

Many plants are mailed with a cooling pack and in a dark box, so that’s why I thought this could work. But it’s only meant for a few days, not a few weeks.

3. Leaving the plants in shallow water while away is another thought I had. The issue with this is that some of the leaves would dry out, and the others would constantly be soaking in water. This could cause fungal infections or other issues with the plant.

4. Having a plant sitter water them. I was thinking about having a plant sitter for all of my plants, but I’ve decided not to after all. I think my plants will be ok for 3 weeks. But if it was any longer, I would be looking for someone to care for them.

If you are getting a plant sitter or pet sitter while you’re away, definitely ask them to soak your water plants and leave them in a spot that’s easy to find!

Updated: How I Kept My Air Plants Alive While Away

So the first question is: did the air plants survive? Yes they did! I had the luxury of time before we left to try out my first idea of having them in my terrarium. And they did not seem to be liking that at all, so I gave up on that idea.

What I did instead is: I soaked the air plants for hours a week before we left, and then soaked them for a few hours the day we left. All of my plants had been placed into cooler, shaded areas clumped together for humidity. So I left the air plants there, amongst the humid and indirect lighting with the other plants.

When I came back, I immediately gave them another long soaking for 3 hours or so. A few weeks out, what I have noticed is one of them is not doing as well as the others. There are different varieties of air plants, and this one is different to the other two. It has new green growth in the middle/top of it, but seems like a lot of the older leaves are drying up and turning brown.

But this was 3 weeks away with no one checking on my plants, and they survived!

Going on vacation doesn’t have to spell disaster for your air plants. By preparing adequately, you can ensure they survive and thrive even in your absence. Remember to give them a good soak before you leave, place them in a high humidity environment, and avoid direct sunlight.

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