I live in a northeast Connecticut boarding school, and have ten tillandsias on the windowsill of my dormitory 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.

After coming to the school, I began watering them by soaking them upside-down in plastic containers, just like I used to do back at home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I dried them up by placing them upside-down on paper towels. When I performed this process back in Pittsburgh, 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 – Grady Player Feb 21 '16 at 23:28

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '16 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. – Graham Chiu Feb 22 '16 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.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.