How Big Do Air Plants Grow?

Ever walk into a room and noticed little plant-like decorations? You ask the host where you can get a piece or two to decorate your home, and they mention that they are actual plants. If you are not familiar with the Tillandsia plants, you would probably think they are pulling your leg. These Air plants grow without soil, how?

It is quite perplexing to a newbie who has no idea how air plants survive. They can live without soil, as a matter of fact, the dirt will suck the life out of these extraordinary beauties. The atmosphere around them supplements their every nutritional need- food, air, and sunlight.

These cuties come in differing colors, shapes, and sizes that make them favorable to place on whatever staging you wish to. Be it on a geometrical model, a hung metallic frame or a simple glass tabletop terrarium. You may even include one variety or two as part of your fairy garden. However, for this to be possible, you have to familiarize yourself with the exact size each grows so that you know the best location to place them. Every species germinates from a seed, then a seedling, then a fully grown plant. But the question we are to answer today is how big do they grow? And the best way to do so is to take a look at the largest kinds in the Tillandsia family.

How Big Do Air Plants Grow
Grow Your Air Plants @m.o.m.o_sapiens


This air plant has long wave-like dark green tendrils that originate from the bulbose base and meander outwards. The thin flat leaves give the crop a striking resemblance to an under the sea creature because of their unique winding nature that grows freely in all directions. The leaves at the base of the plant are usually highlighted with an attractive hue of plum and will yield a bright red bloom and bright violet petals when it flowers.

This crop marks its origins on the wild sides of the Caribbean basin and Central America. It loves the humid air found in such regions. These Bromeliad epiphytes use their tiny roots to anchor themselves on any surface. They are therefore found growing on trees and rocks where they get plenty of direct shaded light.

A full-grown Tillandsia Bulbosa produces large bulbous bases that can range between 2 to an astounding 9 inches in circumference and 18 inches in height. Their narrow, curled up leaves can spread to a length of 8 to 10 inches.

Due to their larger size as compared to other air plants, they do best when grown in open structures such as open frames and unconstricted containers.

Make sure to check out “7 Rare Air Plants You Need in Your Home” to see a full list of rare airplants for your home.

Caput Medusa

If you are familiar with the Greek mythological story of medusa, you will recall that her head was filled with live snakes. And this air plant appears as this name suggests. The snake-shaped green leaves bring an exotic flair on any surface this crop is placed.

The Caput Medusa acts as an ant-plant in the wild, where it provides a habitat to the small animals. And in return, the ants keep the plant safe by repelling pests and providing a natural fertilizer by means of their feces. When grown domestically, they do enjoy the brightly lit spots that receive filtered bright light. This air plant loves humid air, and that is why it prefers being sprayed as opposed to being soaked in water.

A mature Caput Medusa’s grey-blue, snake-shaped leaves grow to a stature of around 9.8 inches. This air plant would look divine located on a shell decoration or laid on a wooden saucer as centerpiece art.

Take a look at “5 Types of Air Plants” to see other types similar to the caput medusa you can get for your home.

How Big Do Air Plants Grow
Medusa is Growing @chengjit


The Tillandsia Circinata is a sturdy, light fuzzy green stalky air plant with a lot of character. This air plant has trichomes covering the leaves, and they help the plant acquire nutrients from the air. During its blooming season, the crop grows strikingly bright yellow or purple flowers that are a great attraction to bees and hummingbirds.

Tillandsia Circinata traces its original habitat in the countryside of Mexico, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, and the southern united states.

This air plant grows to an approximate width of 1 inch at the base and around 7 to 9 inches in height. The Circinata looks wonderful mounted on driftwood.

Don’t miss out on “Your Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Air Plants” for our full guide to taking care of your air plants.


This grass-like species is native to the west indies, Mexico and Central America. This Tilly looks fantastic in a hanging planter or a simple tabletop planter. It has a very memorable fan-like leaf structure that grows to a height of about 12 to 18 inches. It is perhaps one of the biggest air plants found. Although, there are smaller versions of this crop that grow to a height of about 5 to 7 inches and 8 to 10 inches.

It is an extremely hardy plant that forms a clump over time, but before then it blooms charming royal purple flowers. It does well under brightly filtered lights, a low- moderate watering regime and an easy-going maintenance schedule.

Learn how to take care of your air plants and check out “Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?” for tips on maintaining them.


The xerographic air plant is a striking air plant that has a bright mossy green coloring on the gently gathered leaves. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful large air plants that look beautiful placed as it is. With or no container, it is a sight to behold. The leaves grow and curl inwards towards itself, forming a bowl-like shape. The leaves are thicker at the base and extend into thinner streams.

It relishes direct sunlight in the summertime. Its watering is not so time-consuming as one may either do a frequent misting or soak it in water for fifteen minutes at least once a month.

The seedling alone volumes 2 to 4 inches and the jumbo matured one measures 8 to 10 inches. And with proper care, the Tilly’s size can multiply three times over. The fascinating thing about this air plant is its bloom. Its sensational floweret can be an astounding four times the plant’s height. For this reason, the Xerographica makes an incredible centerpiece for any table.


How Big Do Air Plants Grow
Fascinating Air Plant @sirenofsucculents

Contrary to belief, air plants can actually grow to super and jumbo sizes. Evident from the sorts mentioned above. And just like their smaller counterparts, they still look amazing!!

Thank you for reading with us today! Enjoyed learning about how big do air plants grow? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “Rare Succulents You Wish You Knew About“. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

Happy Planting! 🌵

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying? Everything You Need To Know

You go to the store. And get a plant— an air plant that is. Oh, it’s so gorgeous, you can’t take your eyes off it. You get an unusual display and set it up in your living room, and don’t you just love how your guests are blown away by the sight?

“I love your plant!” — your friends and family would say.

Barely two weeks later, you notice strange colored spots, and what used to be a healthy, vivacious Tillandsia is now all droopy and dying. But why?!

Unbowed, you quickly discard it and head to the store for a different species. And guess what? The cycle continues.

I know. It’s sad, frustrating and downright shattering.

Every plant lover has been down this lane before. And yes, at first, you might be tempted to throw in the towel and forget all about air plants. But of course, nobody ever resists the urge to try once more given the attractive and idiosyncratic looks of these alien plants.

While it might not be possible to categorically state the specific cause of death, several pointers may give us a clue. Put on your medical gloves, we’re about to do some in-depth air plants diagnosis!

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
dying succulent @katloveskale

Tillandsia Rotting

If you recently lost an air plant, it was probably due to rot. It’s typically the biggest cause of death in Tillandsia plants. Overwatering your plants is the main cause of this destructive condition. Just like succulents, air plants store water in their leaves which may sustain them for as long as two weeks.

Allowing water to accumulate inside the plant will quickly result in rot. The tell-tale sign of a rotting air plant is the presence of black or purple color at the plant’s base., almost like the colors, human bruises are! How ironic.

Additionally, setting your Tillandsia plants on a damp display pot or dish makes them susceptible to rot. Air plants absorb water and nutrients via trichomes found on their leaves and not through roots. Display your air plants on dry surfaces.

We did an entire article on how to water air plants. However, just for a quick rundown, water your plants by soaking them for about one hour, then immediately place them upside down for all the water to drain. Ensure the plant is totally dry before returning it to the display surface. Avoid misting unless you live in an area with high temperatures.

Air plant rot is fatal and in most cases, is irreversible damage. However, if you catch it early, you can pluck out the rotten leaves to prevent infection and cut back on watering.

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
Example of plant rotting.

Are You Poisoning Your Air Plant?

Toxins embedded on your display surface may be harming your air plants and causing them to die slowly. Rust, copper wire, and some type of pressure treated wood are dangerous to Tillandsia health. Sometimes these materials are made with your planters or terrariums and you won’t even know that they’re not helping the growth of your beautiful plants!

Also, such toxins may also result from fertilizers. Using fertilizers containing iron, copper, zinc and boron is highly lethal to these plants. Only feed them with tillandsia-specific fertilizers.

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
An example of a poisoned plant.

Does Your Air Plant Have Access to Enough Light?

It can be tempting to set up these decorative plants in living room corners, even in poorly lit places. While an air plant kept in inadequate light will not die the next day, its form will greatly change over time leading to a lanky and deformed plant. And soon enough it will be a goner, unfortunately.

It’s an air plant after all, so it needs a sufficient amount of light just like other plants!

Set your air plants where they can receive bright, indirect sunlight for a few hours a day. This can be three or four hours on average. A south or west-facing window is your best bet for your plants to receive sufficient light. Remember— moderation is key like anything in life! Too much sun and your Tillandsia or air plants will get sunburns and become parched.

In case your natural lighting can’t get the job done, you can opt for artificial grow lights, they work just as good. Here’s one that we have set up in the office that works quite well for those gloomier days. They are cleverly designed to provide lighting so that plants can keep up with photosynthesis.


Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
Plants that are drying out quickly.

Lack of Air Circulation

The basic requirements of air plants are water, light and, yes, you guessed it… air! They’re air plants after all. Air plants kept in closed containers lack proper ventilation and this leads to build-up a humid environment— a quick ticket to plant rot.

Everybody agrees that air plants placed in terrariums look super cute. But those pretty and closed terrariums could spell disaster for your plants due to increased humidity. This is due to a lack of proper air circulation and may cause early death on your plants. Plus, the lack of space in these beautiful terrariums isn’t optimal for the growth of your air plants!

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
Succulent plant with healthy growth.

Temperature Changes

Air plants can’t stand freezing cold temperatures or frost. They’ll end up being limp and mushy. It’s advised to keep them in environments above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, this might not be a huge deal when growing them indoors. For outdoor air plants, it’s recommended that they’re whisked inside once temperatures go below 32 degrees.

Be careful with high temperatures as well. Too much heat will lead to parched and dry plants and so you might need to give them a soak more often than normal.

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Air plants with the proper amount of sunlight exposure.

Dehydrated Air Plants

“Air plants can get all the water and nutrients they need from the air,” said the biggest air plants myth.

While it might be true that Tillandsia plants get some water and nutrients from the air, assuming that they can survive on that alone is a big lie. A really big lie!

Tillandsia are native to the tropical rainforests of Mexico and America. In such settings, air plants can get along pretty well as the air is humid and they can get all the water they need for survival. That drastically changes when you domesticate them. The air in a living room or office setting is dry and things like heating and summer only makes it worse. Therefore, tamed air plants can’t survive without water.

Curly, shriveled and droopy leaves are signs of dehydration. You can salvage such plants by giving them an overnight bath.

Watering air plants once a week will prevent your plants from being dehydrated. Nevertheless, this largely depends with your environment. Air plants growing in arid areas require regular watering.

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
Air plants with driftwood.

Pests on Your Air Plants

Often, Pests can cripple up your plants’ growth and ultimately lead to death. Mealy bugs are the most notorious of all. They form a white cotton-like substance and use it to hide while feeding on the plant’s sap.

Quite cheeky creatures if you ask us!

You can knock off these bad boys by using 70% isopropyl alcohol. Try this 99% isopropyl alcohol. Dip a cotton swab in the alcohol and carefully wipe out every infestation on your air plant.

Why Do My Air Plants Keep Dying?
Vibrant air plants.

If you think your air plants keep dying way too fast, the common problems you just read ‘why do my air plants keep dying’ may be part of the problem but not the only. Comment below other problems you think other people might have with their air plants dying. Or for answers and tips from fellow succulent and air plant lovers, join and like our exclusive Facebook Group, Succulent City Plant Lounge! Our community will gladly help.

Ah we almost forgot, this post is sponsored by Amazon Audible! They are offering all of our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of 2 FREE Ebooks when signing up for a free trial! You can sign up for a free trial here! Think about it, air plant some of your favorite succulents or air plants while listening to your favorite Harry Potter book or something else you might be interested in! (Anyone else fans of Harry Potter anyways?)

If you’re still here for some more insight on the wonderful world of air plants, here are some additional articles to check out— How to Grow Air Plants, 5 Types of Air Plants, or Everything You Need to Know About Air Plants.

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Happy AIR planting friends! 💚

How to Grow Air Plants/Everything You Need To Know About Them

Have you ever seen those interesting creepy crawlies that try to pass for a fly on the wall?

You might see them dangling precariously off the edge of a bookshelf or encased in a geometrically arranged glass globe kind of like this one. They have green, tentacle-like extensions that twist and curve, making them look like a sea creature that came up for air. These living creatures are not bugs. They are air plants!

Did we trick ya?

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s an Air Plant

Part plant– part creature, air plants are fascinating in the way they look and behave. They are called air plants because they seem to thrive while hanging in the air and their roots have no real connection to soil. In the botanical world, they are known as Tillandsia.

They are classified as Epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants, but are not parasitic to the host plant. These perennial plants get their nutrients from the rain, air, dust and moss surrounding the host and they use their roots to attach themselves to things, rather than to absorb nutrients.

There are over 650 species of air plants that can be found naturally basking in the cracks of trees, shrubs and rocks, maybe we’ll list them all some where! Air plants thrive in forests, mountains and deserts, and have originally been discovered clinging to tree trunks in Mexico, Central and South America and the West Indies. They are closely related to Bromeliads and appear in different shapes and sizes. Don’t wait, get started on this air plant kit with everything you need!


How to Grow Air Plants

It’s All About the Look and Feel

Air plants are full of personalities, and you can easily find one that matches yours! The ones with furry-looking or fuzzy silvery leaves are from dry climates and can handle long periods without water. Air plants with glossy leaves are from tropical rainforest and are not very drought-resistant.

Most air plants have thin, triangle-shaped leaves that can either be rounded or long like a ponytail. There are tiny scales on the leaves called Trichomes that absorb water and nutrients from the air. Air plants only bloom once in their lifetime and most of them produce bright colored, funnel shaped flowers. Check out 5 popular air plants here!

Whether a Green Thumb or Brown Thumb, Air Plants are for All Thumbs

The greatest thing about these charming creatures is that they do not need you to fuss over them like other house plants. These low maintenance little beauties only need air, light and a little water to flourish.

How to Grow Air Plants

Let There be Light

Air plants are lovers of warm weather, but they are not sun worshipers and they do not appreciate direct sunlight. They prefer air temperatures of between 50 °F to 90 °F (10 °C to 32 °C) and are terribly troubled by frost. There is a high possibility that your air plant will die if left in temperatures below 45 °F (7 °C).

If your air plant is dwelling in a glass globe like this, please do not place it directly on the window sill. Glass intensifies the heat and sunlight from outside, and can give your plant sunburn or dry it out completely. (Like a magnify glass beaming light!) They enjoy bright filtered light and they are content to hang around under fluorescent light bulbs.

Being air plants, they prosper in humid environments and cherish air circulation.  A little breeze helps the plant to breath, but crazy winds will blow things out of proportion. Try and avoid housing your air plant under a fan or near an air conditioner vent.

They May Like Water, But They Are Not Good Swimmers

How to Grow Air Plants

Like most succulents, air plants are not too enthusiastic about water, although they do need it in their diet. Spray misting on its own might leave your air plant hanging on to dear life, especially in the summer or if you live in areas with a dry atmospheric conditions. Some people think that using a spray bottle like this will suffice, but that’s far from the truth!

They need a good soaking bath once a week during the hot weather and every other week in winter. Air plants do not really have roots that can search for replacement water and their leaves do not store internal reserves like other succulents.

Try and avoid using distilled water or softened water for your plant bath time. They benefit more from tap water that has been left to sit overnight for the chlorine to evaporate. Air plants are partial to the essential nutrients found in water from a lake, pond or aquarium.

Bath time should be a fun time for your air plant. Either fill a sink or a wide bowl with water and let the roots of your air plant be submerged in the water with the leaves resting out of the water. A bowl like this would work perfectly, unless you have a ginormous air plant of course! Let the roots marinate overnight or for at least 3 hours. When bath time is over, take your air plant out of the water, turn it upside down and gently shake off excess water. Your plant should then be given 4 hours to air dry before putting it back in its home.

Feed Me

Air plants fancy a spot of fertilizer every now and then, especially just before blooming. Pond water or aquarium water acts like a natural fertilizer and helps to relieve distressed plants. Once a month, a little water based Bromeliad fertilizer can be added to the bath water (following the manufacturer’s instructions) to give your plant a little confidence boost.

Here’s a tillandsia fertilizer you can use straight from the bottle too if you’d like, it makes life much easier.

How to Grow Air Plants

What’s All This Blooming Business?

As mentioned earlier, air plants only bloom once in their lifetime. They produce flowers at different times of the year depending on the species, and the blooms can last from a few days to a couple of weeks. There are some species that produce one delicate flower while others produce multiple flowers.

You can also find air plants that grow flowers on a bloom spike or inflorescence. The blooms will vary in color, ranging from brilliant blues to bright purples and yellows as well as delicate pinks and fiery reds and neon orange.

Caring for Mommy and ‘Pups’

After blooming, air plants produce at least 3 offsets from the mother plant that are called ‘pups’. These are new plants that form at the base of the mother plant. These pups can be separated from the mother and grown as individual plants or they can be left to form a clump, although the mother plant will eventually die after producing pups. If your idea is to create a clump of air plants, remove the mother plant gently when she dries up. If the leaves are still fleshy and soft, then she still has life in her. If she has passed on, then she will just break off easily.

The pups can be separated from the mother and transferred to their individual new homes when they are about 1/3 the size of the mother plant. With a sharp, clean knife or gardening scissors, you can cut off the pups downwards, but as close to the mother as possible. The pups can also be gently twisted away from the mother plant.

How to Grow Air Plants

Grooming Tips

Air plants are versatile and can easily adapt to new environments. As an air plant parent, you can literally go nuts mounting your air plants on colorful glass, jagged rocks, creative corals, sea shells, wood planks, ceramics, even driftwood!

Trending interior designers have been creating jaw dropping air plant chandeliers using water proof glue, wires, fishing lines or twisty ties. Keep in mind that using copper wires or super glue to attach your air plant to its host will kill your plant. Try to use natural fibers to tie the plant and avoid stapling or nailing the leaves as this will crucify your plant. Here’s some inspiration for you to to get started!

If you are thinking of glass baubles for your air plant, then consider that size matters. Your plant should not be squashed in a glass prison but should have enough room to stretch and do some yoga. If the globe is too small for the plant, it will reduce air circulation causing the plant to retain moisture for longer, which is not good.

Air plant terrariums and hanging wire baskets make a spectacular difference for those with small space living. Air plants are great companions for orchids and cacti.

To maintain the beauty of your air plant, you may occasionally trim the roots and dry tips. (Here’s the trimmer we use for one of our office air plants, it’s very durable and sharp!) Dry tips are an indication that your plant is getting too much direct sunlight and you can tell your plant’s thirst level when the leaves start curling inwards. When misting, concentrate the nozzle of your spray bottle on the roots and not the leaves. Remember to shake off excess water!

How to Grow Air Plants

Feel Good Inside and Out

Air plants will not only look pretty in your home but they also have health benefits. Scientists have proven that the air plant, Spanish Moss, can detect and absorb mercury.

By having one air plant for every three people in your home, you can eliminate toxins and reduce carbon dioxide by 50%, thus improving the air quality! No need for a air purifier right? The likelihood of sneezing and coughing also goes down as pollen particles get trapped in the plants’ trichomes and reduces allergic reactions.

Now that you know a little more about how to grow air plants, how about looking for one online or at your local farmers’ market? We would love to hear your experiences with these amazing creepy crawlies.

Want to start your own air plant or succulent garden but stuck on where to begin, our full article about 16 types of succulents might help you out on what type of plants you can get!

Did this article help answer your succulent care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents or even Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth today!

Have fun and happy planting, send us pics of your succulent garden too!?

The Best Succulents Box Review Guide For You

We love getting plants delivered! Our local nursery is a little slim on the succulent pickings, so plant subscription boxes, like Succulent Box, allow us to try out so many species we never would’ve gotten a chance to own. 

We’re always super excited to receive our plants in the mail, and a little nervous. Succulents are pretty hard to ship. Their leaves are delicate and fragile, so they’re easily damaged in transit. The leaves can even fall off if the succulents aren’t properly packaged and get jostled around too much!

When we got our Succulent Box in the mail, we were relieved to discover that all of our plants were ok! Thanks to the ample padding in the box, none of our succulents were damaged.

Time to Unwrap!

We carefully unwrapped all of our new succulents and were really impressed with how they looked.

Would you be able to tell that these succulents were wrapped in bubble wrap just a few minutes ago? We wouldn’t—they don’t look misshapen at all!

We loved that every succulent came with a little identification card. It’s easy to figure out which genus your succulent belongs to, but it can be pretty hard to figure out the species and variety.

We definitely would’ve known that the succulent on the left in the photo above was an Echeveria, but we might not have figured out it was a Blue Elf. So we really appreciate the fact that these ID cards were included in the subscription box!

We also liked that the subscription box came with care instructions. It had some really helpful tips, like acclimate your succulent plants gradually to sunlight to keep them from burning and water them less during the winter. It had almost everything someone new to succulents would need to know to take great care of their plant babies!

Now let’s take a closer look at each plant that came in the box!

What’s Inside?

Our subscription box came with four succulent plants: one Echeveria, two Sedums and one Sempervivum.

A Succulent Box like this one with four plants only costs $20, so each succulent costs $5. Not bad, right?

We’d say this cute little Echeveria ‘Blue Elf’ is worth the price!

And so is this Sedum ‘Firestorm’ below. The edges of its leaves turn a beautiful bright red color in the sun. You can already see that they’re starting to turn red, but we can’t wait until the colors get even more vibrant!

Here’s one of the Sempervivums⁠—a beautiful Pachyphyllum plant. Look at those gorgeous fleshy green leaves!

Last but not least, here’s a closer look at the Sempervivum Calcareum.

This succulent has a big, beautiful green rosette with a hint of maroon on the tips of its leaves! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Looks like it’s already sprouting a chick, too, so this succulent is basically two for the price of one!

Overall Consensus

Overall, we’re super happy with our Succulent Box! The plants look healthy and didn’t arrive with any kind of damage. We loved all the extra touches that the box came with, like the succulent identification cards and the care instructions. The bright blue packaging on the outside of the box was super cute too!

As you can see from the photos above, there’s a nice variety of succulents in this box. They’re pretty good size as well—the ones you’d get from a nursery wouldn’t be much bigger.

And who knows if a nursery near you would even have all of these unique succulents! We’ve personally never seen an Echeveria ‘Blue Elf’ at any of the garden centers near us.

Plus, going to the garden center is not nearly as fun as getting a subscription box in the mail. Having a succulent surprise delivered to our door and not knowing what was in it was so exciting!


Would you guys get a plant subscription box like Succulent Box? We’d definitely get one again, especially since they start at $5! We also love that their 200 varieties of succulents and air plants are organically grown in California, making them a quick- ship when ordering within the USA.

Ready to get your subscription box started? Head to this link to order yours! Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below or share in our Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge. We’re sure our fellow succulent lovers would love to hear from you!

Have your own succulent subscription box, or planters, or any succulent- related item you’d like for us to review? Contact us to inquire, we’d love more succulents for the office!

Before your new succulent babies deliver, make sure you check out our care guides so you’re fully prepared! Check out When You Should Water Your Succulents, How to Propagate Your Succulents Successfully, and Your Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Air Plants!

Calling all succulents lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

Have fun and happy planting! 🌱

Definitive Guide To 5 Types of Air Plants

Have you seen those plants that look like they are growing from nothing? With no soil anywhere near them and no visible roots, they are a sight-for-sore eyes as they dangle in the air from wire baskets, hooks and chandelier-like containers! You may have spotted some with furry, silver leaves or others with glossy leaves, while some present the most vibrant colored flowers.

These tiny, floating, evergreen perennials are known as air plants.

Air plants go by the scientific name Tillandsia, and there are over 650 varieties of this species! They are originally found hanging on for dear life in the tropical climates of South and Central America as well as southern parts of the United States.

Tillandsias have the unique feature of being epiphytes– which means they do not require soil but more rely on water and air to grow. This attribute has Tillandsias attaching themselves to trees, shrubs, rocks, fences and telephone posts, but they do not feed off the host.

These amazing, un-demanding plants are brilliant for decorating small spaces and look adorable peeking out of sea shells, against a piece of drift wood, suspended on wire baskets and vases or semi-enclosed in glass baubles.

If you are looking for a plant that looks more like a pet without the hassle of cleaning up after it, here are a variety of 5 types of air plants to add a kick of personality to your home or office.

And before you learn about them, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Amazon’s Prime Membership! Get that FREE 2-day shipping on all your new air plant necessities! Click here to learn more and sign up today. Think of this as a thank you gift from Succulent City for keeping up with our articles.

5 Types of Air Plants
5 Types of Air Plants @carmenmcnall

Tillandsia Caput-Medusae

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a plant that is referred to as the goddess of Greek mythology, Medusa? Absolutely yes! If the name alone does not peak your interest, you will be blown away by its thick, wide silvery-green leaves that curl as they grow, giving the impression of the snakes on Medusa’s head reaching out to you.

This gorgeous, evergreen air plant is a South American native, sprouting heavily in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Its leaves appear grey-blue in color and are arranged like rosettes. The twisting leaves grow from a bulbous base, can get to 25 cm long and have fine, grey hairs all around them.

T. Caput-Medusae pulls out all the floral stops as it blooms from spring to the beginning of summer. It produces delicate purple flowers that are about 3.2 cm long from a pale pink bract. Pups grow from the bottom of the plant after flowering and these can either be left to form a clump, or can be propagated when they reach 1/3 the size of the ‘mother plant’.

A fun fact about the T. Caput-Medusae is it can be mounted sideways or upside down and it will still grow straight in the direction they are in. These beauties do not abide by the laws of gravity like many other plants do. So you can hanging them in a planter like this one, or like this one and have no issues!

When looking for a truly unique looking statement plant, look no further than T. Caput Medusa. We promise that, unlike the myth, you won’t turn into stone when you stare at it!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Caput-Medusae @flowerheartseverywhere

Tillandsia Cyanea – Pink Quill Plant

The Tillandsia Cyanea is an indigenous resident of the rainforests of Ecuador, boasting large, bright pink bracts arranged in the shape of a paddle, that gives it the name Pink Quill plant. Its Latin name, Cyanea, means ‘blue,’ and refers to the blue-purple hue of the flowers. The leaves are long and green.

Peeping out of the sides of the fan-like quill are blue-purple-violet flowers, appearing at most 2 at a time and last for only a couple of days. The plant blooms during spring and autumn. The quill itself, which is technically the inflorescence of the plant, can stand tall for as long as 4 months, bringing a burst of color wherever it’s positioned.

This epiphytic perennial is unique because unlike most air plants, the Pink Quill can grow in soil, so you can plant it in a cool planter like this one! It has tough, dark green, grass-like leaves and can develop to be 20 inches (50 cm) high by 20 inches (50 cm) wide.

This hardy houseplant can handle dry conditions like a true champion, although it does like good air circulation and temperatures not below 7°C (45°F). This tropical stunner enjoys its moments in the sun, but direct, strong sunshine will leave the plant with sunburn.

Did you know that air plants, along with succulents, are trending in becoming decor for weddings? Take a look at this article and you’ll really be inspired!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Cyanea – Pink Quill Plant @brandon_nxs

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula

Catching the eye of everyone who passes by is the Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula or simply known as T.Maxima . When in bloom, this upright shaped plant proudly shows off bright hues of pink, purple, blue and green, while bearing a resemblance to an enchanting firework display.

The rare T.Maxima has thick, moss green, succulent leaves that burst out from a central point, with the leaves starting off dark green at the base and turning pinkish-red towards the tips when exposed to strong light. The plant generates multiple, striking purple flowers with yellow tips, producing more than 5 flowers all at once.

This air plant originates from Oaxaca in Mexico and has been known to grow up to 6 inches tall. The T.Maxima’s colorful and unusual form gives it that wow factor when mounted on a piece of bark or driftwood, if not sitting pretty in a terrarium. But to also keep up with their tropical theme, we thought you may like these flamingo planters!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula @mj.0512

Tillandsia Harrisii

The Tillandsia Harrisii is a very exceptional plant that is held dear to the hearts of many botanists, as it was named after an American air plant enthusiast named Bill Harris who was brutally murdered in Guatemala in 1985.

This distinctive air plant has silvery- grey leaves that are curled in a dense rosette along its stem and are usually falling towards one side. It is considered to be a caulescent species— which defines it as a plant that grows along a stem that is above the ground.

T.Harrissi displays a deep- red inflorescence that consists of 5 to 9 spirally positioned, purple- violet flowers with blue-violet petals and orange to red bracts. These magnificent colors create a sheer contrast to the grey-green leaves of the plant. As a slow grower, it may not produce blooms until after a year or two.

The T.Harrisii thrives under bright indirect light and away from full sunshine, so a sunny window or nook is the perfect spot for it. It also prefers moderate humidity with a good air flow to prosper. Try storing yours in a unique planter like this one, it’ll fit perfectly on your desk at work or night table at home!

This easy care plant is native to Guatemala and requires a CITES permit that certifies that the plant was sustainably grown and not collected from nature.


5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Harrisii @pot_plants_windy

Tillandsia Stricta

The ever-popular Tillandsia Stricta is an evergreen air plant and a local resident of Trinidad, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana and northern Argentina. The plant can take root on sand dunes as well as under tropical rainforests, making it a highly adaptable plant. According to its climate, Tillandsia Stricta may have soft flexible leaves or firmer rigid leaves and can vary in size and color.  

This air plant’s scientific name (stricta) translates to ‘erect’ and illustrates the upright habit of this plant. It also ties into the plants’ colloquial names; Upright Air Plant, Strict Tillandsia and Erect Tillandsia.

The Tillandsia Stricta is a clump-forming perennial with short stemmed leaves that grow into thick rosettes. This compact species has dark green leaves and produces attractive pink and white floral bracts when in bloom. The bracts hold a showy bright blue flower that sadly only lasts a day, although the bracts remain vibrant for up to 10 weeks.

Known to be one of the fastest growing species, the Tillandsia Stricta is a decorators dream– delivering an impressive colorful clump after a few years. They can be mounted on virtually anything, giving you creative leeway to go nuts with wood, ceramics, sea shells and rocks.

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Stricta @tamanhatijz

Care Tips for Air Plants

Air plants are slowly taking over the indoor plant world and you do not want to be left behind! There are some pointers to remember when taking care of air plants.

Check out our article, Check out Your Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Air Plants, for an extensive look!

Watering Air Plants

Too much water will kill your little one. Some air plants do well with the occasional misting once a week, especially during cold seasons. During the summer, the dunk and dry method works the best. Soak the plant for 15 minutes then shake off the excess water before putting it back in its home.

Here’s our article dedicated to watering air plants, check it out!

Sunlight for Air Plants

Air plants are naturally found hanging on to tree branches. This shows they flourish with a bit of shade or in bright, filtered or indirect light. They do not like baking under the scorching sun.

5 Types of Air Plants
Beautiful air plant display

Curious to try out one of these 5 types of air plants? We would love to hear about your adventures as well as answer any questions you may have! Already own air plants? Show us your photos in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plants Lounge!

Ready to start your air plant collection? Let us help! Head over to Succulents Box, where you can sign up for monthly subscription boxes and get over 200 air plants and succulents delivered right to your door! Starting at just $5 a month, you can grow your air plant collections right from the comfort of your home! Click here to learn more and sign up today.

If you want to learn more about air plants, we have some additional articles to help! Air Plants vs Succulents, Everything You Need to Know About Air Plants, and 7 Rare Air Plants You Need in Your Home!

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Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complementary guide. 

Thanks for reading, happy planting! ?