How Do Air Plants Grow Without Soil

More like pets than other plants, air plants are adorable. It doesn’t matter if a variety is fuzzy, furry, spiky, or trailing—it is impossible to resist. Usually very little, soilless air plants are simple to grow. As their name suggests, air plants use scales on their leaves to absorb nutrients and water from the atmosphere. Because they are simple to maintain and don’t require a lot of light to thrive, they are popular as indoor plants right now.

How do air plants naturally enlarge?

Air plants are one of nature’s many wonders and by far one of the most unusual plant species. We will discuss what they are, how to best care for them, how to display them, and our top three favourites in this journal.

A Brief Overview

Tillandsia, the Latin word for air plants, are indigenous to South and Central America’s mountains, deserts, and woods, and certain varieties can even be found in the southern United States. Air plants grow on and around trees because they are epiphytic, but they are not parasitic. Instead, they absorb nutrients from the air and sporadic rainfall through their leaves. Their leaves have layers of trichomes, which are small, hair-like structures that are silver in colour and help the plants easily absorb water. Unexpectedly, the tiny roots that air plants have serve to hold the plant to a surface rather than to absorb nutrition. It’s normal practise to trim the roots off of plants before bringing them indoors for a cleaner appearance.

Life Cycle

Air plants have a predictable life cycle, in contrast to many other tropical indoor plants. Years after reaching maturity, the air plant will blossom, with the majority of the blooms featuring extremely strong violets, pinks, reds, and oranges. After they have blossomed, the mother air plant will gradually start to generate offshoots known as “pups.” You can carefully remove these pups, which will grow into new, healthy air plants once they are roughly one-third the size of the mother plant. Following this stage, the mother plant will gradually start to die, leaving behind a sizable number of baby air plants, and the cycle will then begin again.


You can be sure that air plants don’t require (or even particularly appreciate) that kind of harsh, direct sunlight, despite the fact that some of them may resemble succulents, cacti, and other light-loving plants in appearance. Since air plants typically grow around the shady canopies of trees in their natural habitat, they enjoy bright indirect light when housed indoors [find out more about lighting here].

Contrary to popular belief, air plants do need water to survive and can’t thrive on air alone.

Once a week, immerse your air plant in water for about an hour. After giving the air plant its weekly wash, gently shake it out to get rid of any extra water that may have gotten between its leaves. Before returning your air plant to its normal position, turn it upside down for a couple of hours to let any remaining water drain from the plant. By doing this, your air plant’s risk of developing rot is significantly reduced. Your air plant will have a longer, happier life if you follow these maintenance advice.

Ways to Display

Because air plants don’t require soil (i.e., a container) to survive, one of its most intriguing characteristics is that they may be placed almost anyplace. They can be displayed in a transparent glass container with pea gravel to support them or left alone on a desk or countertop to give off a more natural appearance. There are countless options.

Our Favorites

This tiny T. tectorum specimen resembles a fuzzy snowball. Because of the abundance of its silvery trichomes, it can tolerate extreme heat and drought.

T. xerogrpahica: These air plants, sometimes known as the queen of the air plants, can grow to be quite large. They form a rosette and have long, silvery-green leaves that spiral around one another.

T. streptophylla: This air plant, which is bulbous and has ringlet-like leaves, curls more tightly the longer it goes without water.

I hope this post has helped you learn a little bit more about air plants. They are wonderful plants that everyone ought to use. Please feel free to ask any more questions regarding them in the section below.

How can rootsless air plants grow?

Tillandsia, also known as air plants, are considered to be epiphytes, a group of plants that attach themselves to other living things without becoming parasitic. This epiphyte classification is shared by ferns, Tillandsia (and other Bromeliads), orchids, and the majority of lichens and mosses. In tropical rainforests, these plants frequently cling to tree trunks or branches so they can get filtered sunlight through the tree canopy. These epiphytes receive all of the nutrients they require to exist through their leaves, including sunlight, atmospheric moisture, and organic stuff that lands on them. In contrast to other plants, tillandsia only use their roots as an anchor.

Because of the intense competition for light, water, air, and nutrients in the densely populated tropical rainforests, epiphytes have adapted and evolved over time to not need roots.

Since they are epiphytes, air plants may survive without soil. They can live in high places where other plants can’t reach in the upper story of the rainforest because to this adaption. Additionally, air plants contain trichomes that enable them to take in nutrients from the air above in these moist tree canopies.

That’s intriguing, you might be thinking, but what should you do with their roots if they aren’t really necessary? If you leave them alone, their roots will keep growing, but you can easily trim them for aesthetic purposes. Just be careful not to cut too close to the plant’s base as this could harm it. Additionally, you may use the plant’s roots to secure it to a piece of driftwood, a hanging planter, a wreath, or pretty much anywhere else you can think of! They will have a very powerful anchor to keep them in place once they have anchored to the wood with their roots.

Air plants are extremely adaptable and may be displayed almost anyplace they get good indirect light and air flow due to their soil-free nature. You can nestle them in a glass globe, make lovely living art, or send them to a friend across the nation in a sweet little sea shell gift!

Can air plants be grown in water?

Put the plants in a bowl, sink, or other container face down and let them soak for 10 to 20 minutes. As sitting water can create rot and harm or kill the plant, always take care to gently shake any excess water off the base of the plants. We advise watering the plants in the morning and leaving them outside of their containers in a spot where they can dry in four hours or less. Never leave your air plant submerged in water for a long time. Additionally, you can water your plants by “dunking” them in water multiple times and then gently shaking off the extra.

You can put your plant in the dish for a longer soak for a few hours or even overnight if it is having trouble and appears “thirsty.” Wide open leaves indicate a healthy air plant, but closed and curled leaves indicate a dehydrated one! Never immerse a bloom or flower because doing so can make them decay.

Before watering the plants with tap water, let the water remain for a few hours to let any chemicals evaporate. Whenever feasible, it is ideal to use water from ponds, aquariums, or rain. Never use distilled or artificially softened water, however it’s fine to use bottled water and spring water.

Keep in mind that every plant species is unique and will necessitate a different watering routine than others. Your air plants will suffer if you ever place them in soil.

As you might have imagined, air is another crucial factor for your air plant. For the plants to survive and live a healthy existence, there must be a good flow of pure air. After watering, it’s critical that the plants receive adequate airflow to completely dry in 4 hours. While air plants can survive in containers, it is advised against displaying them in closed containers and to wait until they are entirely dry before re-planting them in a container that might limit air flow.

Plants that are too close to the A/C vents may dry up more quickly and need to be watered more frequently.

If you want to keep your air plants in a terrarium or globe, you’ll need to take them out so you can water them normally. Also, be sure to leave them outside until they have had enough time to completely dry out. Four hours usually suffice. You can mist the tillandsia occasionally while it’s in the terrarium or globe to add some humidity. You’ll want to spritz your plants fewer times as the globe gets smaller and more compact. You can give the terrarium a few mists from a water mister a few times each week if it is bigger and has greater air circulation. Just watch out that the plant doesn’t get over-mistified and that it dries off quickly while in the terrarium.

If you bought one of our incredible sea urchin kits, be careful to separate the air plant from the sea urchin before soaking. Wait several hours for the plant to thoroughly dry before removing it from the sea urchin. If you give the air plant back to the sea urchin while it’s still wet, the base will become coated and eventually rot, which will harm the plant. If you want to mildly mist while inside the sea urchin, go ahead!

Without dirt, how do plants grow?

The Wonder of the Day for today was motivated by Casi from Alabama. Why do plants need water, wonders Casi? Casi, we appreciate you WONDERing with us!

When you hear the word “garden,” what comes to mind? A tiny plot of tilled soil covered in lovely flowers and vegetables? maize, lettuce, and tomatoes triumphantly bursting through the soil in rows?

What about a big greenhouse made entirely of plastic pipes where a dizzying array of flowers and vegetables are sprouting? No? Well, reconsider! Without any soil, as absurd as it may appear, plants can be grown above the ground.

Researchers realised hundreds of years ago that although soil is essential for plant growth, it only traps mineral resources close to plant roots.

Instead of using soil, “hydroponics” allows you to grow plants in a fluid solution containing mineral fertilisers. The Greek terms hydro (“water”) and ponos are whence the word “hydroponic” originates (“labor”).

Numerous mineral elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, are essential for plant growth. You can eliminate the need for soil by supplying a plant’s water with these essential mineral fertilisers. Practically every plant can be cultivated hydroponically.

There are numerous types of hydroponic containers. Numerous networks of plastic tubing with holes for plants are used in large hydroponic farms. The pipes deliver watery solutions containing mineral nutrients to the roots of the plants.

Plants can also be grown hydroponically by putting their roots in a nutrient-rich mineral solution that is contained in a non-soil substance like gravel, coconut husks, or shredded paper. The root systems of the plants can benefit from more assistance from these non-soil components.

Plants grown hydroponically typically have healthy growth and great yields. Oxygen is always available to plant roots. Additionally, they can get as much or as little water as they require. Hydroponic systems continuously reuse water, which reduces water expenses.

Modern society can benefit greatly from hydroponics. Residents can grow fresh food with hydroponics in places with limited access to decent soil. Fresh food can be grown all year round in hydroponic farms that can be put up indoors.

Due to the possibility of lengthy transit times on upcoming missions, hydroponics may also allow humans to stay in space for longer periods of time.

Rocks can air plants grow on them.

On shrubs, rocks, and bushes, air plants can grow. Other epiphytes include several fern species and orchids, which are found on tropical trees.

The same as Spanish moss, are air plants?

Searching for live Spanish moss strands to buy? [Not that powder from the hobby shop.] On our Wholesale Page, we sell them individually or in packs of six or more.

One particular species of air plant is Spanish moss. Tillandsia Usneoides is the official scientific name. The genus Tillandsia contains all of the air plants that we sell on our website. A more inclusive term that includes air plants is epiphytes, which are plants that get their nutrition from the air around them. Epipytes do not directly injure or parasitize their hosts. The sole sources of support for them are trees or other buildings.

They might unintentionally harm the tree host, though. This can occasionally be observed on trees that have dense Spanish moss growths. An overgrowth of moss on a tree may reduce the quantity of sunlight that reaches the host tree’s leaves. When Spanish moss is moist, it can also significantly increase the weight and surface area of a tree. The larger surface area may be a problem during hurricanes or other high-wind events. Over most other trees, Spanish moss tends to favour Southern Live Oaks and Bald Cypress. The main cause of this is the mineral leaching that takes place in these species. The moss uses the nutrients from this leaching process to fuel its growth.

Growing Spanish moss is not that difficult. The most typical method is via division, however seed can also be naturally multiplied in nature. Thousands of wispy seeds can leave a single clump in the spring after releasing small, unnoticeable blossoms and be carried by the wind to other host tree branches. However, it’s possible that you’ll get your Spanish moss in the form of a strand or division. As long as they are kept in a warm environment with sufficient air circulation and water available, they will grow contentedly. The ambient temperature should be at least sixty degrees. Preferable is some sun. The moss will get dry when exposed to direct heat, especially indoors. Like other air plant species, Spanish moss requires watering through misting or bathing in water.

Spanish moss can be brought outdoors in northern climates during the warm months. But if it’s put out too early in the Spring, birds might take it and use it as an unusual, snug nesting material.

Spanish moss has a wide range of applications. It can be utilised as insulation, packing material, mulch, and art supplies. It can be used as a filler for mattresses or furniture if it is grown commercially. Even the upholstery of automobiles was packed with moss throughout the first part of the 20th century. It is not advisable to use tree-picked moss for bedding or stuffing since it may be infested with pests like chiggers or red beetles. The plant will be killed if you microwave or boil the moss for a few minutes to get rid of the insects.