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 favorites 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 color 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 practice to trim the roots off of plants before bringing them indoors for a cleaner appearance.
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.
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.
Where can air plants be hung most effectively?
All air plants are native to tropical regions where freezing temperatures never occur. It’s crucial to keep them at a reasonable temperature without a sweater, right? typically from the 1960s or earlier. Keep them away from windows that are cold in the winter and air conditioner vents.
At least a few hours of bright, indirect sun each day are necessary for air plants to thrive. The optimal placement is between one and three feet from an east or west-facing window, or around two feet from a source of artificial light. They can be exposed to hotter, more direct sun for longer periods of time if you maintain them well-hydrated. Avoid areas that are poorly lit.
What kind of air plant is the simplest to grow?
- Harris’s Tillandsia
- Caput-Medusa Tillandsia
- The Tillandsia ionantha
- fuchsii Tillandsia
- Tectorum-type Tillandsia
- Streptophylla Tillandsia
- Tillandsia aerophylla
- Capital Tillandsia
- Tillandsia spp.
- Byzantium butzii
- Twig-leaved Tillandsia
#1: Tillandsia harrisii
The air plant Tillandsia harrisii has rosette-shaped leaves that are soft and fuzzy and have a silvery color. You shouldn’t have any trouble locating them for sale, like here, as they are generally accessible. This fuzzy air plant is a member of the xeric group, which originates from hotter regions of the earth.
This would imply that T. harrisii doesn’t require a lot of watering and can survive if you neglect it occasionally. For newcomers and busy individuals, that is excellent news. Your plant needs watering if you notice that it’s less fuzzy and seems dry.
Additionally, because T. harrisii prefers bright light, you can place it close to a window or ledge where it will receive indirect light the majority of the day and bright, unfiltered light in the morning and afternoon. Use fluorescent lights similar to these in a workplace or throughout the winter (that applies for all air plants).
Which air plants are the best?
Most Popular Air Plants in the Top 10
- Xerographica. This huge, slowly growing plant, which also grows naturally in Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador, is a favorite among gardeners.
- Ionantha. The T. rex is one of the most well-liked air plants for terrarium design.
- Bulbosa (Belize and Guatemala)
- Mediocre Medusa.
How long does an air plant live?
Perennial plants are tillandsias, also referred to as air plants. According to the source, they have a lifespan of between two and five years, which indicates that they normally survive longer than two years.
The type of air plant and the growing conditions have an impact on how long they live, though. They reside in deserts, on various surfaces, and on tree branches in their natural habitat (other surfaces they can grow on).
Air plants only experience one flowering during their existence, which marks the culmination of their development and maturity.
Depending on the species, the flowers might remain in bloom for a number of months. However, the air plant will begin to die when the blossoms start to wilt and fade. Air plants develop pups or offsets before they die to carry on the same growth cycle.
Despite the mother plant dying, you can take the pups out and raise them separately. Separating the pups from the mother is referred to as “division is a method of air plant propagation.
As an alternative, you might leave those puppies grouped together ” (also known as “tillandsia balls).
Do you soak air plants with their tops up?
It is best to provide air plants with water that is rich in minerals and nutrients because they obtain many of their nutrients directly from the water. The best water is rainwater, although spring water is a close second if you don’t have a convenient way to collect rainwater. Alternatively, you might utilize well, lake, or creek water. Never use filtered or distilled water. Less minerals and nutrients are present in distilled and filtered water. Many municipal water systems include fewer minerals and nutrients and more contaminants. If you are concerned about your pH level, air plants enjoy slightly acidic water. The ideal range for alkalinity is between 5.5 and 6.0. Most frequently, tap water from the city is higher than this range, making it unsuitable for air plants. Do not worry yourself too much about PH levels. Any good, pure water would do.
After watering your air plants, thoroughly drying them off is the second most crucial step. To ensure that your air plants completely dry, put them down on a dish towel on their side or upside down. For the larger species like Xerographica, Streptophylla, and Sparkler, this is especially crucial. Within two hours of their bath, they should be completely dry to the touch. Wait until your air plants are completely dry before putting them back in terrariums and vases. If you water your plants and then put them in an enclosure right away, your plant can get rot. Your air plants will be content and healthy if you follow these straightforward watering guidelines.
Are air plants placed in soil?
- Don’t bury them in the ground. Ever. Because they are epiphytes, they grow atop other plants rather than in the ground.
- You can plant them in imaginative locations because they don’t require dirt. One can be set in a shallow bowl or vase with rocks or sand, one can be put in a small container with a magnet and placed on the refrigerator, or one can be tied to driftwood with a clear fishing line.
- Don’t confine them to a terrarium. Yes, they are adorable, and Instagram is full with pictures of air plant terrariums, but air plants need to breathe. They will become overly damp in a confined vessel, which will cause them to rot or contract a fungus.
How often should my air plant be soaked?
I wanted to go into more detail about this because our Facebook Page gets a lot of questions about how to water air plants. Although tillandsia, often known as air plants, are simpler to maintain than many other plant species, they still need some care and attention, and water is crucial to their general well-being. Here are some frequently asked questions about watering air plants along with our suggestions:
This mostly relies on your climate, where you’re keeping the air plants, the Tillandsia species itself, and the environment in which it naturally grows (learn more about mesic vs. xeric air plants here). Since most of the year is humid where we live in Tampa, Florida, we don’t run the heat in our home as often as our friends in the north do (I’m not trying to pick on them, I swear!). We typically water our plants twice a week, but drier climates require more frequent watering. Depending on the season, you may discover that you need to water your plants less. Additionally, it depends on where you put them at your house or office. The plants will stay more wet in a humid bathroom, but you’ll probably need to water them more frequently if they’re close to an air vent or a heat source. (Note: We don’t advise keeping your plants close to heat sources.)
It should be noted that while humidity might slow down drying, it in and of itself is insufficient for watering.
Again, you should modify your watering practices according to your climate and the species of your air plants, but for the majority of air plants and surroundings, we advise that you immerse your plants in water at least once a week. Use something that allows you to totally submerge the air plants, like a bowl, bucket, or your sink. Give them a lengthier bath for an hour or more every other week if you live in a dry area. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes at least once a week. You might wish to shorten the soaks if you reside in a location with higher humidity or if your air plant is more xeric in nature.
You should allow the air plants to completely dry after soaking. They can either be let to dry with their leaves facing down or turned over and gently shaken. If water is allowed to sit in the leaves, the plants risk rotting. The plants should be placed in an area with sufficient airflow, and they should be able to dry entirely in less than four hours. Before bringing your plants back home, ensure sure they are entirely dry if they are in a globe or terrarium.
You will observe how open and wide the leaves are after soaking your plants, as well as how much more “happy” they seem. A well hydrated air plant should appear like this! You’ll learn over time that if the color starts to look a little dull and the leaves start to close or curl, your tillandsia are thirsty and you should give them another nice wash. Try soaking your air plant for several hours or even overnight if it is really struggling to see if you can rehydrate the plant. Always allow them to totally dry off before soaking or spraying them once more.
Between waterings, you can spray the plants. If you live in a dry region, this might be a terrific method to keep plants healthy and offer them some additional care. However, unless you have one of the few species of air plants that appreciate low moisture, such as T. tectorum (for which we only advocate misting) or T. xerographica, misting is not a replacement for a thorough soak (which we recommend dunking instead of soaking).
When it comes to water, air plants aren’t particularly finicky; most tap water is suitable, although it depends on the water quality in your location. The most nutrient-rich types of water to utilize are rainwater, aquarium water, or pond water. If utilizing one of these types of water, don’t add any more fertilizer. Allow the water to rest for several hours to allow the chlorine to dissolve if you’re using tap water (maybe 24 hours in some areas.)
Use water that is not distilled since it is too “pure” and will deprive the plants of the nutrients they require. Additionally, artificially softened water should not be used since Tillandsia cannot tolerate its high salt concentration.
We advise soaking your air plants in the morning so that they can dry completely over the day. Additionally, air plants utilize the nighttime hours to breathe carbon dioxide, so if they are wet in the evenings, they won’t be able to do so effectively. This method is known as CAM; to learn more about CAM, read our page on how air plants breathe. You can check on them before you go to night and place them back in their terrariums or displays. Some indirect sunlight will help them dry more rapidly.
These are the queries about watering air plants that we encounter the most frequently. Did we respond to yours? If not, just inquire! Need advice on caring for air plants? Visit our page on air plant care.
Regarding watering the plants with blooms, I have a query. How do you water them if, as I understand it, you don’t moisten the bottoms or the blooms? Do you bring all of your indoor air plants inside during the winter? Although it doesn’t get very cold very often where I reside in Largo, Florida, it does occasionally. Since we don’t have snow, I believe the wind to be the main issue with the cold. Please lend me any assistance you can.
I recently purchased an aquarium, and in order to ensure that my three air plants receive continuous moisture in the office, I planned to tie them to a branch and let them sit on top of the tank. Do I still need to sprinkle and soak them as usual if the water that has evaporated from the tank should be plenty for them to receive?
Our well water passes through a water softener, which I should have mentioned in my previous query. They would be set up here if they could just survive on smoke.
Since we live in north-eastern Washington, rain has not been an option for us. Instead, we use well water, which I won’t even drink. I use spring water to water my air plants because I purchase it and drink it. I haven’t had them long, but they seem to be doing fine. Is using spring water for irrigation problematic?
Due to hydration issues, I do not advise attaching air plants to driftwood. In retrospect, it sounds apparent, but I was new to air plants and lost five of my six because the wood kept too much water when I first gave them a soak.