Sun Exposure Varies by Plant Species
Luckily, there are ways to determine how much sunlight your plant needs! If your plant has thin, wispy leaves, it likely comes from a naturally shady environment, meaning it won’t fare well in direct sunlight. Thick, full leaves indicate that your plant can retain more moisture than others, so it might appreciate a little more sunlight. Some air plants, like Xerographica, have silver leaves that indicate it can handle direct sunlight.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants
Indoor plants will likely do best near a window that offers some shade from a tree or any other barrier that can prevent direct sunlight. Another great option is to keep your plant in an office with indirect sunlight or bright fluorescent lighting. Plant owners that prefer to keep their air plants outdoors should be sure they are in an area that won’t experience direct sunlight for more than a couple hours per day. A completely shaded outdoor spot under a tree or on a porch would be an even better alternative. Another consideration is the strength and angle of the sun during the year. If your air plants live outside and you live in the American South or Southwest, tillandsias will tolerate a lot more winter sun than summer sun. Sames goes for plants that are kept indoors in the north, they will also tolerate more direct winter sun than summer sun. The general rule to follow is that direct, midday sun, is bad. Morning and evening sun is well tolerated.
Signs of Sun Damage
Some signs that your plant has received too much sunlight are dried out patches on its leaves or a splotchy appearance when the leaves are wet. If your plant starts to show these signs, don’t worry yet! Move your plant from its current location and gently pull off any leaves that appear to be damaged. If the leaves don’t pull easily, scissors should work to remove them. After the damaged leaves are removed, soak your air plant in some water and find a shadier location for it to live. Avoid fertilizing your plant until it appears to be healthy again- lightly misting (but not completely soaking) your plant between its regular watering schedule will help revive it. Taking care of these plants is generally low-maintenance, so with some extra care and patience, your plant will make a quick return to good health!
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