Why Are My Air Plants Turning Brown? (How To Identify & Solution)

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It can be alarming to see your air plants turning brown. Brown leaves can indicate issues, including overwatering, underwatering, or too much direct sunlight. This article will explore why your air plants may turn brown and provide solutions to help your plants thrive.

Why are my air plants turning brown? Below are the possible reasons for this situation:

1. Overwatering
2. Underwatering
3. Direct Sunlight
4. Improper Air Circulation
5. Over-fertilization
6. Air plant stress
7. Tap water chemicals

Reason 1: Overwatering

Overwatering is a common issue with air plants causing the leaves to turn brown. Air plants require moisture to survive but should not sit in standing water. If your air plants are turning brown and feeling mushy to the touch, they are likely being overwatered. 

Credits: Bill from the Urban Sprout

Note: Not enough drainage can cause water logging, which has the same effect as overwatering.

Solution: Ensure your air plants are in a well-draining container and avoid misting them too frequently. Instead, try soaking your air plants in water for 30 minutes once a week.

Reason 2: Underwatering

Air plants need water to grow and thrive, and they will start to brown if they do not receive enough moisture. On the other hand, if your air plants are turning brown and feeling dry and crispy to the touch, they may be underwatered. 

Credits: Urban Organic Yield

Solution: Try misting your air plants once a day or soaking them in water for 30 minutes once a week.

Also, read:

Reason 3: Too much direct sunlight

Air plants require bright, indirect light to grow. However, plenty of direct sunlight can cause the leaves to turn brown and dry out. If your air plants are turning brown and are located in a spot that receives a lot of direct sunlight, try moving them to a location with less intense light. 

Credits: Air Plant City

Solution: You can shade your air plants by placing them beside other plants or using a curtain.

Reason 4: Improper Air Circulation

Air plants are unique because they don’t need soil to grow but plenty of fresh air. This is because they absorb most nutrients through their leaves instead of roots. 

If air plants are kept in places with little or no air movement, they can’t dry out properly after being watered. This condition can lead to the plant staying wet for too long, a problem can cause it to turn brown. This browning is often a sign of rot, which can happen when mold or bacteria grow because of the extra dampness.

Credits: Emma Almendarez from San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles

Solution: To keep your air plant healthy, ensure it’s in a spot with good airflow. You can place the air plant near a window or in an open area of your home. It’s also crucial that your air plant has enough space around it and isn’t crowded with other objects or plants.

Reason 5: Over-fertilization

Overfertilization can lead to a condition known as nutrient burn in air plants, causing them to turn brown. When there’s an excess of nutrients, these can accumulate in the plant tissues and disrupt normal functioning. The most visible symptom is browning or yellowing at the leaf tips, which can eventually spread to the entire plant if not corrected. Excess salts from overfertilization can impair the plant’s water absorption, further contributing to browning. 

Solution: Using a suitable fertilizer sparingly is crucial to prevent overfertilization.

Reason 6: Air Plant Stress

When air plants are under stress from factors like improper light, poor air circulation, extreme temperatures, or improper watering and fertilization, one of the most noticeable changes is their color. Stressed air plants might turn brown or yellow, or their usually vibrant green color might appear dull and faded. These color changes signal that the plant isn’t getting the care it needs, and adjustments should be made to its environment or care routine.

Credits: Anthony Marsh from Seeds N’ Flowers

Read more: Is Stress Good Or Bad for Succulents? Handle Succulent Sun Stress In Style!

Reason 7: Tap Water Chemicals

The chemicals in tap water, like chlorine and certain salts, can potentially harm air plants and turn them brown. These substances can build up in the plant tissue over time, disrupting its normal physiological processes and leading to browning, leaf curling, and other signs of stress.

It’s best to use rainwater, pond water, or dechlorinated tap water for watering air plants. If you only have access to tap water, let it sit out overnight before using it. This action can allow chlorine to evaporate, making the water safer for your plants. Additionally, shake off excess water and allow the plant to dry thoroughly after watering to prevent water-related issues like rot.

This method is also mentioned in the post “How To Root Succulents In Water (Succulent Water Propagation).”

Don’t Leave Soon …

Air plants may turn brown for several reasons, including overwatering, underwatering, etc. The solution goes along with each heading that will help you solve the problem completely. Moreover, you may not fear the death of your air plants by propagating them, increasing the population of your garden.

See more common problems with air plants & easy solutions on Succulent City here:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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