You’ve had your air plant for a few months, but despite your tender care and attention, it seems to be doing nothing. What is happening? How quickly do air plants actually grow? Don’t give up just yet; air plants called tillandsias actually grow quite slowly. They will eventually grow and blossom if given the right care; it just takes time!
Although certain species of Tillandsia grow more quickly than others, on the whole, they grow quite slowly, which makes them all the more unique when you have a huge specimen plant to exhibit! The growth rate of an air plant will also vary depending on whether it is a tillandsia seedling or an offset from propagation. The first two years of a seedling’s existence are spent growing slowly, rarely exceeding one inch in size. After the first few years, they begin to grow slightly more quickly as they reach bigger in size. Even though plants grown from seeds grow more slowly, they often are larger and better specimens than plants grown from offsets. In comparison to plants grown from seeds, plants developed from offsets or “propagation” grow far more quickly and typically blossom within the first few years as the cycle continues and they create offset of their own!
It can take a long time for the Tillandsia fasciculata tropiflora to reach this size.
Consider the locations where your species of air plant grows in the wild when caring for your air plants. Does the species come from a dry, arid desert with little water (xeric), a cloud forest at a high elevation, or a humid, rainy rainforest (mesic)? Due to the changes in climate, plants located in these particular climates will exhibit particular features and grow accordingly. Plants may develop more slowly in dry climates than in more humid, moisture-rich conditions.
Look at our blog entry (Mesic Vs. Xeric Air Plants) for more information on the distinctions between mesic and xeric plants, as well as what conditions each will require in terms of water and light.
Your ability to accurately recreate the plant’s natural environment will have a significant impact on how quickly it grows. Patience is essential because it might take years for a small air plant to develop and blossom. Although it’s not an exact science, your plant can surprise you and grow and blossom more quickly than usual!
If your plant hasn’t produced pups or offsets yet, don’t worry; it might just be a slower-growing plant. Most air plants will produce pups or offsets during the first year of their existence, after blooming. Just keep giving your plant the attention it needs and making sure it gets enough water and light.
This puppy is developing slowly. It can take a long time for T. xerographica to reach maturity.
T. xerographica is one of the Tillandsia species that grows slowlyest; it can take years for it to reach a size where it can bloom and produce pups. Small T. xerographica plants, which have a diameter of 4-5 inches, may be 3-5 years old! The T. capitata and T. harrisii are two other slow-growing plants that get rather big.
These large-growing Tillandsia plants, which are all slow-growing (top to bottom, left to right): T. harrisii, T. xerographica, T. xerographica in bud, and T. capitata
The T. ionantha variant, T. stricta, T. aeranthos, and T. brachycaulos are some of the air plants with the fastest growth rates. These plants are all categorized as mesic varieties, which implies they prefer more water and filtered indirect light.
These Tillandsia species that develop more quickly bloom and produce pups than other species. (From top to bottom, left to right) T. ionantha, T. stricta, T. brachycaulos, and T. aeranthos
In addition to routine watering, you can give your plants a boost by fertilizing them once a month. This will promote quicker growth, blooming, and pup production. To encourage the growth of your air plant, check out and buy our specially designed Tillandsia fertilizer!
Be patient with your plants; they will grow best with the right amount of light, water, and airflow. When the seasons change, such in the summer or winter, you need alter your care routine. You should have a healthy air plant that eventually blooms and gives birth to pups! You could even manage to cultivate a sizable specimen air plant!
Do air plants expand in size?
The most common queries that air plant owners and potential owners have about their plants are listed below. Please post any further questions you may have about air plants in the comment area below.
Do Air Plants Purify Air?
Air plants are less successful in air filtration than other plants, although they do remove carbon dioxide and some trace chemical pollutants. However, some research imply that they may be useful in clearing the air of pollutants like mercury.
Do Air Plants Grow Bigger?
Depending on the species, your air plant will reach its full size if it is a pup (baby air plant). As was previously mentioned, air plants may grow from two inches to seven feet tall, so do some research on the kind you choose to learn more about how big it will get. An air plant that you purchase at a market is probably fully developed.
Do Tillandsia Die After Flowering?
Unfortunately, most air plant kinds that bloom are elderly and will soon pass away. On the plus side, air plants produce tiny pups before they die that will eventually reach the size of their parents.
Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
The most frequent factor that causes air plants to die is overwatering. They are very susceptible to root rot, which will destroy them, if they are overwatered. Make sure your air plants dry off within three hours of watering to prevent root rot. Underwatering is the second most typical reason, which the plant can generally overcome. See our suggestions below to rejuvenate a dry plant.
How Do You Revive an Air Plant?
Give your plant an extra bath and then continue your regular watering schedule if you notice that you’ve only slightly under-watered it (for example, if the tips of your plant are turning brown or feeling a little dry). The steps listed below can be used to revitalize a brown or very dry plant:
Place the plant and water container in a room with plenty of light and a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (1823C).
Repeat the procedure if the plant continues to wilt three days after being soaked, but this time soak it for just three to four hours.
Air plants are wonderful additions to your plant collection and can make wonderful presents for friends who also enjoy plants. Cute air plant jewelry can be made from the tiniest ones. Ingenious crafts like air plant string art and do-it-yourself terrariums may also be made using air plants. Have you thought of a unique way to use your air plant? Tell us in the comments section below!
Do air plants continue to grow?
When cultivated from seed, air plants grow slowly, only gaining less than an inch in height in the first two years. They only bloom once, but they can continue to produce offsets (pups) for many years after that. You can either propagate the pups to produce new plants or allow those to continue growing in clumps indefinitely to grow a giant air plant specimen.
Do air plants naturally expand?
The majority of air plants can be found growing naturally in places like the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Some can even be found there. The T. fasciculata, as well as other air plants and Bromeliads, grow natively in the wild in the Everglades here in Florida, particularly in the southern region of the state. Additionally, Spanish moss, also known as T. usneoides, which is a member of the Tillandsia family and not a moss at all, can be seen growing in trees in the southern United States.
The majority of air plants can be found in the wild in the regions and nations shown on this map.
Looking at the locations where air plants are located, we may learn a lot about how to care for them and what traits particular air plants might have. The leaves of air plants from wet areas may be greener and prefer more moisture and indirect light. These plants are categorized as “mesic.” On the other hand, plants from drier areas may have lighter grayish green leaves, show more trichomes, and be more tolerant of both sunlight and water. These are viewed as “xeric.” In our blog post “Mesic vs. Xeric Air Plants,” you can read more about mesic and xeric plants.
Consider the drought-resistant Tillandsia tectorum as an example. This fuzzy little plant has trichomes all over it, which enable it to take in nutrients from the surrounding air. T. tectorum naturally flourishes in the dry coastal deserts of Peru and Ecuador’s high Andean slopes, where rainfall is scarce. They utilize the moisture they can from low-lying clouds in the high mountains and near the shore using their profusion of fuzzy trichomes. You should consider the T. tectorum’s native environment when taking care of these plants. As they are used to in the wild, they want less water, more sunshine, and good air circulation.
How gradually do air plants develop?
Air plants can be divided into two categories: mesic and xeric. These classifications distinguish tillandsias from two quite different types of habitats. Xeric tillandsias often develop more slowly than air plants from the mesic group.
Tillandsias that are xeric grow in hot, dry conditions naturally. They appear fuzzy because they have more trichomes, which are holes on leaves that absorb water.
Since there is less water available in hotter settings, larger and denser trichomes enable them to absorb more water. They shield against the damaging effects of direct sunlight as well. These factors contribute to the slower metabolism and slower growth of xeric air plants.
On the other hand, mesic tillandsias are native to regions with regular rainfall and generally high humidity. They lack the silver/white fuzz, have less noticeable trichomes, and have a greener appearance.
Tillandsias from xeric regions have adapted to survive under these conditions. They require a lot of indirect sunlight at home (some may survive a few hours of direct morning or afternoon sunshine every day), as well as regular watering. Mesic tillandsias, however, require more frequent watering. They often develop more quickly than air plants in the xeric group.
Reason #2: Air plants are slow growers
Air plants develop slowly; in fact, they are among the slowest growing plants. It takes at least a month or two for air plant seeds to germinate, and another four to eight years for them to grow into full plants. For the first two to three years or so, their growth will be very sluggish.
Most people use pups to propagate air plants, however even pups take 2-4 years to develop. When you purchase medium-sized air plants, they frequently grow for a short time before giving birth to puppies (offsets). Pups eventually grow into independent plants and can be cut off from the parent plant when they are half as big.
The parent plant will blossom for the first (and only) time at this time, and then it will start to produce pups. Your tillandsia will be ready to reproduce at this point. The parent plant begins to deteriorate after producing pups.
If you keep the parent plant and don’t separate the pups from it, it will eventually grow into a lovely cluster. Just consider the fact that after a few years of growing, plants only ever bloom once. The parent plant then gives birth to pups, at which point its existence is done.
It will take between 12 and 16 months for a newly purchased plant to show noticeable growth. You should notice blossoming in one to three years.
Spring through mid-summer, followed by early fall through late autumn, are the warmest times for air plant growth. During the winter and the height of the summer, they won’t grow much if at all.
Reason #3: Lack of care
Despite their hardiness and low maintenance needs, air plants still need to be cared for. They need a lot of direct and indirect light, as well as watering (yes, tillandsias love water and cannot thrive without it). Additionally, your air plant won’t grow or thrive at all without adequate air exchange, hydration, and light.
A lot of light is needed for air plants, most often filtered light. Avoid subjecting them to intense direct sun for more than a couple of hours each day; doing so will burn the plant.
Air exchange is crucial as well.
Ensure that the room is ventilated once every day. If you’d like, you can also take your plants outside for a few hours each day (or at least few times a week). But don’t leave them in the air conditioning.
Watering is yet another crucial component. Watering air plants frequently is necessary. Less irrigation is needed for xeric air plants compared to mesic air plants.
During the warmer months, deep water your plants for an hour once every 10 days for xeric plants and once a week for mesic plants. Because they are prone to decay, certain plants don’t require deep watering (such as t. tectorum).
Running a lot of water over the plants for a short period of time under a shower or sink will also water them more frequently and less intensively. For mesic air plants, do this three times each week, and for xeric air plants, once per week.
Air plants won’t get enough water from misting alone. Every two to three days, you can spritz your air plants. However, at least once a week, you should soak or submerge them for extra deep watering sessions. Shake off any extra water consistently (you can even leave your air plant to dry upside down).
While this is a broad suggestion, the best course of action is to learn what each species of tillandsia requires.
Tip #1: Promote rooting
The beautiful thing about air plants is that you can exhibit them nearly anywhere by just arranging them on top of different things.
However, roots will be encouraged if you secure your air plants to fixtures that they ordinarily cling to in their natural habitat. Better roots will therefore encourage more rapid and superior growth overall.
To achieve this, you must secure your air plant to items like driftwood, wood, tree fern slabs, bark chips, and trees, among others. By encasing the base in moss, you can attach your air plants to those items.
After that, secure by wrapping the plant around the mounting device with some floral wire, as shown. You might need to do this by drilling holes through the display for the wire.
Tip #2: Fertilization
Fertilizing your air plant might assist if it’s not growing. Although air plants can survive without fertilizer, fertilizing your tillandsias is strongly advised.
By doing this, you dramatically increase the lifespan of your plant. Your air plant won’t thrive if you don’t fertilize it. Your air plants’ growth and coloring will both be enhanced by fertilizing.
In the wild, they actually take in nutrients from the nearby sources and decaying stuff (such airborne debris, dead leaves, and bugs). Through the trichomes on their leaves, they take in water-soluble nutrients.
We must use specially prepared tillandsia/orchid fertilizer/food because we don’t give our indoor air plants with natural sources of fertilizing at home. Fertilizers for air plants, like this weekly spray, frequently contain additional nitrogen and potassium for foliage development (new tab).
Tip #3: Provide favorable conditions
Make careful to offer your air plants the best conditions for growth and success. This includes plenty of filtered strong light (a terrarium cannot have more than one hour of direct unfiltered sunshine), excellent air exchange, and regular watering.
Make sure there isn’t a draft, but if it is near a window, ventilate the space once daily or move the plant outside for some fresh air (they love it).
To assist them tolerate more heat in the summer, deeply hydrate your air plants and lightly mist them in between. Your air plants won’t last very long if you keep them in showers or gloomy areas.