Everything About Air Plant Diseases

Air plants generally don’t get affected by pest and diseases, but the chances are still there. Learn about common air plant diseases and how to cure them!

The feeling that comes when you see your air plants being infected by diseases is horrible. Air plant diseases aren’t common, but if your plant is suffering from them, this article is going to help you identify and cure them.

The transportation period and storage matter a lot to the hygiene of these plants. Some of the diseases occur if the condition of the air around is infected. Although this is true, we must not confuse the diseases that are caused by surrounding air pollution with parasite infections.

It is good to understand that air plants are only suspectable to fungi and parasites. Here, you will learn the different parasites and fungus that causes air plants diseases, how to avoid them, and how to get rid of them.



When you realize the presence of a white substance on the leaves, then you will know mealybugs have attacked it. Mealybugs are soft, forming a wax-like coat on the surfaces of the leaves, small in size and no wings. These are small parasites that suck on the nutrients of the plants, weakening it making the leaves yellowish.

The adult female lays 300-600 eggs, which can be found the underside of the leaves. This female insect lays continuously for two weeks then dies. Once the young nymphs are born, they keep rotating from one leave to another eating the nutrients.

How to avoid mealybugs

When watering air plants at home, do not overwater it or overfertilize it. Did you know that mealybugs are attracted to plant with a high level of nitrogen and fertilized grounds?

Make sure you ensure hygiene by cleaning the leafy parts occasionally. This will help avoid future infections.

Also, remember to prune out light infestations.

How to get rid of them

  • Use neem oil – neem oil will help with the disruption of the growth and development of nymphs because it has repellent properties.
  • Avoid excess water
  • Use natural predators such as ladybugs to reduce or kill the mealybugs. Those predators are commercially available in the market.
  • Pluck the already affected parts to avoid spread to the healthy parts.

Scale insects

These scale insects like attaching themselves with leaves, stems, branches, fruits, and twigs. Sometimes it is difficult to notice this kind of parasite since it resembles a shell-like bump. Therefore, it is not easy to notice the infection caused by this little creature. It is after while when the signs can easily be detected.

The adult females lay eggs which will later hatch between a period of 2 to 3 weeks. The young crawlers have piercing mouth parts which they definitely use to feed on their host. As they feed, they slowly grow to become immobile adults.

How to avoid scale insects

  • You should routinely clean air plants at home.
  • You can avoid the spreading of these insects by pruning the infected parts.

How to get rid of them

There different ways of how to get rid of scale insects

  • Environmental control – you can use insecticidal soap to wash the leaves and stems of the plants. You get beneficial insects that get rid of the crawler stage by eating them.
  • Organic control – use neem oil and apply on the surfaces of the leaves that are affected by the parasite. It slowly poisons the scale insects by coating the scales of the insect.


You may have been taught that fungus is derived from the group heterotrophic organism that lacks chlorophyll. The fungus can only exist in two main forms, which are yeasts and molds. You may notice some of your air plants rotting or falling apart, this may be a result of fungus infection. Maybe you left your little air plant in running water. Perhaps, you forgot to let it drain off the excess water before placing in its place. In whatever reason it may be, the fact is your air plant is falling apart.


These are single-celled microorganism classified with molds and mushrooms. Once they affect the roots, they turn the color of the leaves to turn yellowish with mild mold.


These are eukaryotic micro-organisms that decompose leaves, stems, and roots. Molds are not seeable with our naked eyes. Unless you decide to use a microscope. When molds grow numerous, the surface on which they are growing start turning black.

How to Avoid Fungus Disease

  • Check if there are excess leaves near the parts showing rotting and pluck them off.
  • If air is not circulating chances are that your little air plant is not getting enough air. Do not put your plant in a tightly closed container. If you notice your terrarium is closed leave it open to enable air circulation.
  • Always make sure you shake off excess water after washing your air plants.
  • Hear this, unlike other plants, tillandsia plants take their moisture through leaves and not via roots. Hence, water at least once or twice a week so that you do not end up overwatering.


For this case, getting rid of fungal diseases may be difficult. The only way of preventing fungus diseases is by taking the necessary precautions above. Once the root is affected reversing its state may be inevitable. However, cinnamon is a natural fungicide well known to reduce or stop fungus at the tips. Why not try it?

Prevention is always better than cure. If you can avoid some of these diseases by taking precautions necessary, it saves ongoing extra costs. You’ve seen most of the diseases named above are as a result of poor handling and storage of air plants. There are many more air plant diseases that affect them. The best thing is to ensure the air plants you buy are not affected by carefully looking at any suspicious sign.


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