How Do Air Plants Get Their Nutrients

Tillandsias, often known as air plants, are a common and simple to grow plant. They’ve become incredibly popular and are frequently utilised in homes and workplaces. They naturally grow on another host, tree, or item and are considered an epiphyte, along with orchids and bromeliads, without taking nutrition from its host. They need water, light, and nutrients but no soil to flourish. Through microscopic capillaries on their leaves known as trichomes, air plants can absorb moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere. What a cool thing!

Despite being incredibly easy to maintain, air plants nevertheless require some care in order to flourish. Tillandsias can live for several years with proper care and give birth to “pups” (baby air plants) for added enjoyment. We’ve provided highly detailed care advice that is supposed to be helpful. We merely want to arm you with the knowledge you need to take excellent care of your tillandsias. Keep in mind that air plants are quite simple to maintain.


  • Any plant needs light to survive, but fortunately, air plants may survive with filter sunlight or even artificial light.
  • Place your air plant between three and five feet from a window or close to a source of artificial light.
  • An air plant should not receive too much sunshine, even inside. Choose a spot that is only somewhat shaded if you are growing outside. Few plants can withstand full-day sun.


  • The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that each air plant will need a different amount of water depending on its variety, size, and environment of growth. These are recommendations, not unalterable laws.
  • Watering air plants at least once a week is beneficial when growing them inside. The location’s humidity affects frequency. In comparison to a plant grown in a more humid environment, an air plant grown close to a heater will dry up considerably more quickly and require more frequent watering.
  • Place your air plant face down in water, in a container or in your sink, and let it soak there for 10 to 20 minutes to hydrate it. Alternately, you might repeatedly submerge plants in water. To avoid rotting or damage, gently shake off extra water after soaking.
  • Water should ideally be applied early in the day so that moisture can evaporate. After four hours, they should be dry enough to be put back in a container or on display.
  • While spraying your tillandsia sometimes can be helpful, it is not always advised.
  • Use a houseplant or orchid fertiliser with a low copper content if you want to feed your air plant because they are extremely sensitive to copper. Don’t fertilise your plant too frequently because it’s quite easy to overfeed it; diluting your fertiliser can help.
  • You can soak your air plants in water (in a bowl or sink) for several hours or overnight if they ever appear “thirsty” or like they are having trouble. This frequently aids in reviving your tillandsia.
  • Rainwater or pond water work best for watering tillandsia. Never use distilled or artificially softened water to water your plants.
  • Dehydrated plants’ leaves are closed and coiled, while healthy air plants have wide, open leaves.
  • An air plant’s flower or blossom should never be submerged because doing so can cause rotting.


  • Your air plants will thrive in a bathroom or kitchen window, where the steam and moisture will make them extremely content.
  • The growth and water requirements of air plants can be impacted by temperature. Between 10 and 32 degrees Celsius, air plants thrive (50F-90F). Since tillandsia are extremely sensitive to cold, freezing temperatures are one thing they do not enjoy.
  • It makes sense that air plants need clean, healthy air to grow. They require considerable air movement after watering so that they can dry out in 4 hours.
  • Although it is fairly common to place tillandsia in containers or terrariums and they have thrived there, it is not advised that they be completely enclosed in them. No air circulation means your plant won’t have any moisture or nutrients.
  • Keep your plants away from heater and air conditioner vents so they don’t dry out too quickly and require additional watering.

Other Tips

  • Do not ever submerge an air plant in soil. They don’t need soil because it will just make them decay.
  • In addition to gaining new leaves, your air plant will also shed some. You can use scissors to clip off any brown or dead leaves for aesthetic purposes. Cut at a sharp angle so that the leaves still have a natural appearance to “conceal” this trimming.
  • Although they are not necessary and just serve to anchor the plant to a host, roots may already be present or continue to grow. Depending on your preference, you can either leave the roots on or chop them off.
  • You can use E3000 super glue (other glues can come loose over time/when wet or harm your plant) or string to secure your air plant in place on decorative “hosts.” With your air plant, stay away from pressure-treated wood and copper.
  • As air plants develop, they can produce both blooms and pups, which are their young. Pups can either be removed when they are 1/3 the size of the mother plant or left on the mother plant to form a “clump” that hangs in a longer string.

Where does nitrogen come from in air plants?

To maintain life, humans need enormous amounts of food and liquids. In order to survive and thrive in harsh settings, air plants have evolved to do the same. Tillandsia has developed special evolutionary characteristics that enable it to control and store nutrients and moisture.

We will divide air plants into two distinct climatic groups—Xeric and Mesic—because they originate from various biological climates. Like Xerographica and Harisii, Xeric tillandsia inhabit dry, drought-prone areas where water is frequently in short supply. Like Bulbosa Belize and Streptophylla, mesic tillandsia thrive in humid environments with frequent downpours of rain, fog, or mist. Tillandsia have evolved in various ways since these are very distinct habitats. Check out more information on Mesic and Xeric Tillandsia.

Transporting Nutrients From Air to Plant

Both types of plants contain comparable structural elements. Each individual’s epidermis and hypodermis, which together make up their “skin. The skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, guards the water-storing hypodermis. Mesic plants often have thinner hypodermis, whereas xeric plants must store more water like a camel. The Xeric climate category includes the majority of air plants now used in commercial production. Because they must rely on them more for collecting food and water, xeric tillandsia likewise have more trichomes than their mesic counterparts. Mesic tillandsia rely more on accumulating water and nutrient-rich debris in their axils, therefore they have fewer and more dispersed trichomes (spaces between leaves at the base of the plants.) Then, a very intricate system of transporting nutrients and moisture “Vascular networks. These obvious variations serve as an excellent example of the remarkable adaptations that have allowed air plants to survive in harsh and constantly shifting environments.

What Do They Do with the Food & Water?

Like other plants, Tillandsia require energy to preserve existing plant cells and produce new ones that make up the plant’s physical structure. Most plants employ a process called photosynthesis to create energy from inorganic materials like sunlight, water, CO2, and minerals. Through a multistep process, the plant’s epidermal cells absorb photosynthetically active radiation, or PAR, and turn it into sugars. These sugars can be digested, saved, and utilised by the plant as energy. To produce new leaves and preserve its health, energy is used. Added energy is required for blooming or reproduction. When a plant is living in the wild, the minerals and nutrients from the trees, wood, or rock on which it is growing seep off. These nutrients are delivered to the plant through water, where they are absorbed. This system is always active in a home or greenhouse, but we can speed up the process by adding fertiliser.

What Does My Plant Need to Thrive?

Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are just a few of the nutrients that air plants crave. These are present in regular plant fertilisers, but not in the proper amounts or ratios. For the majority of plants, soil must first break down fertilizer’s nitrogen component before plants can eat it. Since air plants don’t grow on soil, they need to find other ways to get nitrogen. Nitrogens from ammonia and nitrate can be consumed right away and without the soil having to break them down. The precise ratio of minerals that directly benefit air plants is only present in fertilisers for epiphytes.

Air Plant Fertilizer

Our fertiliser for water-soluble plants was created especially for air plants. Our special air plant fertiliser was created with the help of a community of growers and enthusiasts across the Americas. Trials were run to gauge the growth, blooming, and pup-production cycles. It only takes a tiny bit of fertiliser concentration. If you employ the soaking method for watering, all you need to do is combine one-quarter teaspoon with one gallon of water; it will last you for several months. For ease of usage, some individuals choose to pour this mixture into a spray bottle. Just make sure the fluid is thoroughly diluted before using the sprayer. The greatest strategy to promote blooming and blushing in your plants is to fertilise them while also providing them with lots of water and bright light. Additionally, it is the finest method for growing pups or new plant buds.

Fertilizer is required for air plants?

Fertilizer: Are Air Plants Necessary? Although feeding air plants has some advantages, it is not necessary to do so. A lifetime of flowering for an air plant results in the production of “pups” or tiny offsets from the mother plant.

Why do air plants require fertilisers to grow?

Tillandsia, often known as air plants, are soilless and grow by floating in the air.

  • Air plants, which are epiphytes and a member of the Bromeliad family, cling to other plants for support yet are independent of their hosts.
  • They use their leaves to collect moisture and nutrients rather than their roots, which are only used to affix themselves to other plants or objects.
  • In the wild, they could live alongside a tree or establish an abode atop a rock. As long as they have enough light and air, air plants don’t have many preferences on where they live at home. They are content living on anything as tiny as a wine bottle cork, within a glass globe that is suspended, or even growing from a piece of driftwood.
  • These hardy plants offer adaptable home decor additions because there are more than 600 species with different sizes, shapes, colours, and forms.

Where do air plants get their water?

Tillandsia air plants use their leaves to absorb water. Not their roots; they mostly use them to affix to things like wood or other plants.

Trichomes give most air plants their velvety appearance. They have structures that resemble hairs and use them to absorb water. Some air plants’ trichomes give them the appearance of being dusted with white powder.

Where do nutrients come from for tillandsia?

Through clever evolution, air plants have developed the ability to store a sizable amount of nutrients and moisture in their leaves. As a result, they are exceedingly hardy and simple to maintain.

Your plants will probably get most of the nutrients they require if you give them access to sunlight and enough water. This guarantees that they will prosper quickly.

According to general classification, air plants originated from one of two main climatic groupings.

climates that are mesic and xeric.

Similar to Harrissi, Xeric Tillandsia prefers to live in drier regions like the southern United States. They require less water to survive. These hardy plants typically grow in desert-like regions, frequently close to a rock structure or mountain range.

Streptophylla, a species of mesic Tillandsia, is native to rainier regions like South America and typically requires more water to survive. These plants are accustomed to daily rain, mist, and fog. Tropical forests and other more humid environments are where you can find mesic Tillandsia.

The species of Tillandsia have evolved in various ways because these types of environments can be very dissimilar from one another.

Both Xeric and Mesic air plants have similar physical characteristics, like as epidermis and hypodermis that form the plant’s skin. Xeric Tillandsia, on the other hand, has developed thicker leaves that are better able to store water during dry spells.

Because they have easier access to water, mesic tillandsia have evolved over time with thinner leaves.

The water-storing hypodermis is protected by the epidermis, which is the exterior “skin.” Xeric plants typically have a thicker hypodermis than mesic plants because they can store more water.

The majority of air plants grown for commercial purposes would be classified as belonging to a “Xeric environment.”

The white, hair-like fibres on the plant’s leaves known as trichomes are more abundant on Xeric Tillandsia than Mesic varieties. Trichomes consume nutrients from the rain and the atmosphere. Although they resemble fuzzy hairs, they are actually microscopic water-absorbing “cups.”

Compared to its Xeric counterparts, mesic Tillandsia have less trichomes. On the plant’s leaves, these trichomes are also distributed more widely. This is due to the fact that they depend on capturing water and nutrients in their axils, which are the spaces between the leaves at the plant’s base.

A Tillandsia has an astounding variety of “vascular systems” in its leaves that function to move nutrients and moisture throughout the plant. This emphasises even more how these plants have evolved to survive in various conditions.

Tillandsia need energy to produce new plant cells, which make up the plant’s body, much like other plants do. And how is that done? through the conversion of materials including sunlight, water, CO2, and minerals into energy through a process known as photosynthesis.

When active radiation is absorbed by the plant’s skin cells and converted to sugar, the process truly picks up speed. These sugars are converted into energy for the plant after being broken down (much like in an animal’s body). This “energy” is what the plant uses to produce new leaves and maintain its health.

A plant requires additional energy to either bloom or reproduce. This process can be improved using fertiliser in industrial settings or even just your backyard at home.

Including other plants, air plants are constantly in need of vital minerals like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These minerals are present in typical fertilisers, but not in the proper proportions for air plants.

Because air plants cannot rely on soil to break down nitrogen, fertiliser for air plants must be different from conventional fertiliser.

Nitrogens such as ammoniacal and nitrate can be consumed right away by air plants. They can lose their qualities without soil. Air plants thrive in special fertilisers made for Tillandsia because they contain the proper ratio of minerals.

You can buy a specially formulated water-soluble fertiliser that is ideal for air plants. North and South American Tillandsia specialists worked together to create this product.

It has been demonstrated that this fertiliser enhances elements like pup production and flowering cycles. All you have to do is combine the fertiliser and water in the right proportion. You can then easily use the mixture for a few months. You can even decide to use a spray bottle to apply your fertiliser mixture to your plants.

Finally, give your plants access to plenty of sunlight and shower the leaves of your plants on a regular basis. Make sure to give your plants enough of water if they are not in a place where they receive natural rainfall. This will guarantee that your plants blossom brilliantly and yield a plentiful crop of pups.