I am attending school in the northeastern US and have ten Tillandsias on the windowsill of my dorm room. I cannot collect rain water for them because I have no tools to do so, so the water I use to water them was the water from the drinking fountains at the school.

After moving to the dorm, I began watering the plants by soaking them upside-down in plastic containers, just like I used to do back at home in western Pennsylvania. I dried them up by placing them upside-down on paper towels. When I performed this process back home, they grew quite well (the only difference was that I used rainwater then). I've watered them twice after coming here, but they only turned black on their bottom leaves and didn't look healthy at all.

So I have refrained from watering them for an incredible three months now, and I know you will blame me for doing this, but I was quite sure they would all turn black and die if I kept watering them. Now, all of them have dried up considerably, but they all still have healthy leaves in the middle and their leaves have stopped turning black. I really want to resume watering them, but I don't know how.

I have several varieties of Tillandsias, but they all seemed to exhibit the same symptoms.

I would like to know why their bottom leaves turned black and shriveled after watering, and how I can change my practices to better care for them.

I have not been able to find answers online about Tillandsias' leaves turning black after watering, so I hope this site will be able to help.


I read somewhere that spring water is good for Tillandsias. Do you recommend using it? If so, what counts as spring water and where can I obtain it?

Also, does Brita water filter work for removing chlorine as well as softening the water? (If that's the case, I will just buy a Brita jug to fix the water problems.)

This is a selection of the varieties of Tillandsias that I have.

This is an example of the blackened bottom leaves that I described before.

  • Do you use a sodium based water softener?
    – J. Musser
    Feb 20, 2016 at 23:34
  • It's from a drinking water fountain at school, so I'm not completely sure. But it's very possible.
    – Q Z
    Feb 20, 2016 at 23:38
  • 2
    Oh right. I wouldn't recommend watering anything with chlorinated fountain water. I'm fairly certain that's what's causing the ailment. Guess you don't have a purifier?
    – J. Musser
    Feb 20, 2016 at 23:50
  • 2
    Can you get a Brita water filter? It's no bigger than a water pitcher. Where do you go to school. I also went to two of the boarding schools in northeast Connecticut. If you don't want to say which, I completely understand.
    – Escoce
    Feb 21, 2016 at 16:20
  • 1
    you could use bits of bottled drinking water that you didn't finish, or even from peer's abandoned water bottles Feb 21, 2016 at 23:28

3 Answers 3


Your tillandsia has been damaged by using chlorinated water. You can dechlorinate water by leaving it to stand for 24 hours but if the municipal authority uses chloramines instead, then you will have to use a dechlorinating solution that you can purchase from a pet shop.

Rain water is naturally very soft. You can not use distilled water as that is too soft. If you use dechlorinated tap water, it may still be too hard for your plant, and the trichomes could block up dehydrating the plant by preventing uptake of any further water. You could try removing the calcium from the water by first passing it through sphagnum or peat moss.

  • I don't have access to sphagnum or peat moss, and I'm not sure if my tap water is hard water. I have bought a dechlorinator already. Is there a product that softens water as well?
    – Q Z
    Feb 21, 2016 at 22:27
  • 2
    You could try diluting it with distilled water, say 50/50, and your school laboratory should have distilled water. If there's scale in your kettles, or water stain on the glass in the shower, you have hard water. Feb 22, 2016 at 2:57

I use the old water from my aquarium (when I refresh the water) and my tillandsia plants love it. Else, (plants at my job), I leave the water rest for couple of hours (overnight) before I lie the plants in the water bowl for 30 min's. And they don't like direct sunlight, I found out.


Is it possible to leave a cup outside when it rains( then transfer to a spray bottle to save for a couple weeks) and then water them? Also I have heard soaking them can be too much water. I spritz mine with a spray bottle once a week and they seem to love it.

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