Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Many of you will have read a ton of differing suggestions and advice on how to water. You may hear "soak 30 min once a week" or "5 hours" or "overnight" or "2 hours once a month" or " mist daily" or " dunk" and you may hear to turn them upside down to dry.
It all becomes overwhelming! So, before I go into some factors leading up to your watering routine, it is beyond helpful to LEARN about the plants that you have. If you truly want to give the best care possible to them taking a few minutes to look up their place of origin will give you extra clues for what they are used to and you can incorporate that into your care routine. A plant that comes from an area that gets little rain may confuse someone into thinking they won't need to water much- and here is how that can become a problem. Even a plant like a Xerographica can withstand long periods without rain but the amount of humidity and the temperatures then play a huge part in how they can stay alive. Typically the humidity would be much higher and consistent, or the temps dont rise/fall to extremes as we have here in the US. So even tho a Xerographica won't have rain for a month from where they live in the wild doesn't necessarily mean it will be happy if you live in a low humidity area with crazy summer temps and only water it once a month.
So here is where I move into the "watering" confusion. First and foremost I want to say, there really isn't a right or wrong, black or white deal here. Some plants will do just fine with a once a week soak. Even myself had become adverse to soaking because it "wasn't how it happened in nature" and no one was there to "turn them upside down" and I wanted to be as natural as possible. I felt that spraying them was best ( of course once you have too many to soak spraying is all you really can do) BUT- I kept coming across some species that just really weren't staying hydrated and a daily spraying wasn't enough. So, I soaked them and I was rewarded with a happier looking plant. Now if you have yours mounted in a way that you can't soak them it does become more problematic and if they just can't be pleased its sometimes best to just not keep those types. In these last couple years of having them I have definitely weeded out the ones that dont like it here during certain times of the year so Ill not carry them during those times or maybe they are happier indoors for a portion of the year. Its all part of learning the species and comparing their climate to yours and doing the best you can.
Ok so now that Ive babbled a bit the bottom line will always hold true-
LIGHT an AIR will always be your number one goals to supply. If you provide these things it becomes hard to overwater. You can definitely UNDER water them, which I think is also a huge problem for those that are told air plants are like camels. Yes they are tough and CAN go a long time without water before dying but do you really want to chance it? Watch them thrive and grow with more frequent waterings.The amount of time it took for your plant to be the size it is is astounding, years and years and years so lets not be afraid or lazy about watering them!
PS - For those of you that soak, it is not necessary to turn them all upside down to dry. A simple gentle shake to remove excess water is plenty, because you will have your fans blowing all that wonderful air on them to get them dry:)